BANGKOK | When talking about a city’s heritage, we often speak about protecting architecture, and cultural touchstones. Hospitality venues are an important part of the fabric of a city, but it’s not often that they stand the test of time. Venues close , concepts change, owners move on to new challenges.
It’s rare to find a restaurant that survives for decades, barely unchanged since the day that it opened. Every city has them, however, if you know where to look. In Bangkok, one such restaurant is Sanguan Sri.
The restaurant opened in 1970, and can be hard to find in a neighbourhood that’s change immeasurably since then. Behind a small, unassuming door, a few metres back from the main street in a part of Bangkok that’s surrounded by high rise office towers, hotels, and shopping malls, is where you’ll find Sanguan Sri. Walk inside and it feels like you’ve walked into a different era.
Miss Sanguansri ran the restaurant until she passed away aged almost 100, several years ago. She left no heirs, passing the restaurant down to her staff, many of who have been here since the start. The decor, from the big stuff down to the tissue dispensers, is from another time. It’s great.
The food here is simple. A selection of signature classic Thai curries and other home-style dishes, plus several rotating daily specials. Portions are small and affordable, allowing you to order a few different things. I opted for a trio of classics – soy braised eggs and tender, slow-cooked braised beef in ‘brown sauce’, a wonderfully fragrant chicken green curry, and a fiery fried spicy fish ball curry.
I’m all for progress, but it’s equally true that some things don’t need to change. If the constant stream of locals, young and old from all walks of life, keep coming in here like they did the day I visited, there’s every chance that Sanguan Sri will be around for decades more.
59, 1 Witthayu Road
Lumphini, Pathum Wan
Telephone: 02 251 9378
Mon – Sat: 10:00am to 3:00pm