I’m a huge proponent of a good weekday lunch.
And I don’t mean a sweat-inducing Isaan feast at a street food stall that requires a nap afterwards. Or a creativity and productivity-killing sandwich gobble at your desk as you frantically answer week-old emails.
I mean a good old-fashioned sit-down at a neighbourhood restaurant.
While a huge part of Thai society and culture revolves around the social aspect of eating, – visions of a huge multitude of sharing plates rotated between friends, family or colleagues to a backdrop of raucous laughter, Instagram snaps and platitudes of “kin, kin, kin!” – my ideal weekday lunch is a solitary one consisting of me, one plate, and a well-thumbed book.
A good lunch is nutritious, delicious, quick and cheap. It will recharge and inspire you for the afternoon but won’t propel you into a shattering food coma.
Most of my cherished lunch hours are spent waltzing around the slew of eateries in Phrom Phong and I make some effort now and then to find new places and dishes to whet the appetite.
But as a creature of habit, I regularly find myself coming back to my familiar roster of six restaurants and cafes that always manage to hit the spot.
A quick note on prices: although they obviously can’t compete with cheap-as-chips street food and work canteens, most of my favourite dishes at the below establishments clock in around the ฿200 mark maximum and often well below. For a generous helping of deliciousness, that’s a pretty sweet deal in my book.
Without further ado…
Part of the ubiquitous Greyhound brand, Another Hound’s European fusion menu is marginally better suited to dinner but its reasonably priced pasta dishes and quiet atmosphere in comparison to the rowdier Greyhound in EmQuartier means that it makes for a great lunch spot too.
Favourite dish: Spaghetti Sugar Cane Smoked Duck Spaghetti (check out dat garlic)
If your lunch choices are dictated by a tight budget and you don’t fancy the MSG and sugar-laden street food offerings, try out Brainwake at the bottom of Soi 33. Their boat noodles are richly flavourful and incredibly filling; a dish of these plus a bottle of water clocks in around ฿80.
Favourite dish: Noodle soup with pork and glass noodles
Yum & Tum
Found on the second floor of ever-popular K-Village, Yum & Tum serves up delicious and generous portions of Isaan cuisine for those times you’re happy to pay a little extra not to sweat in the sun at a street stall. The menu is a mix of salad and noodle dishes and designed for the sharing of multiple small plates – unless you’re like me and prefer to invest yourself with one plate and a few handfuls of sticky rice.
Favourite dish: Larb Moo
I’ve waxed lyrical on Chapter 31’s laidback atmosphere, cheap eats and all-round deliciousness before, but it certainly deserves an inclusion on any Phrom Phong lunch ranking. As well as a host of Thai and European dishes on their menu, they’ve got an alluring dessert counter and a well stocked tea selection.
Favourite dish: Stir Fried Chicken with Rice Noodle
Having never really “got” the obsession with ramen, Nantsuttei’s gluttonously creamy bowls managed to convert me to the craze. If you get there between 11am and 3pm, check out their ฿189 lunch deal featuring a bowl of ramen, an appetiser and refillable green tea.
Favourite dish: Kuro Nantsu and Gyoza
Caffe What If
Here’s another tucked away cafe in a corner of the Green Connect Building at the bottom on Soi 31. A quirky interior with friendly staff, delicious international food and creamy coffees means that it’s one of Phrom Phong’s most underrated haunts.
Favourite dish: Tomato and Pork Sausage Fettuccine
Where’s your favourite spot for a weekday lunch in Phrom Phong?