We sometimes spend weekends stay-cationing at our condo in Bangkok CBD and take the opportunity of being close and convenient wandering around for great local foods – the ones considered too far-fetched given our usual abode in the suburb. And last week we ate at ‘Urai Han Palo Songwat’ (อุไรห่านพะโล้ทรงวาด) Teochew-style braised goose that for me is the best breakfast ever in Bangkok Chinatown or Yaowarat.
Price: $$ (breakfast for two in this picture is less than Bt500)
We walked pass Song Wat Road so many times before. And every time, we saw this clean-looking ‘Urai’ shop very tightly closed, even at 11.00 or noon which – as everyone knows – is lunchtime and that they should be OPEN, or early afternoon. Found out later that this might be the restaurant with the shortest opening hours in the world. They are open strictly from 09.45 and the shop can be closed at around 10.30 because they run out in less than an hour! That fast.
Bangkok Chinatown or Yaowarat is not short of Teochew style braised goose. But for me, Urai is just the best. I like neat food, clean food, subtly naturally tasty food. As you can tell from the clean tables and everything we see at Urai, this place reflects a bit of their compulsive controlling, which is a dear quality for me. Tables are squeaky clean, the walls, countertops and everything including the front wide footpath are wiped clean. All the signs point to their meticulous cooking. If you care about the looks, hygiene and all, chances are you will be also neat in the kitchen, which is gold in this age.
Teochew style braising poultry comes with the meat braised to tender, rich in flavours, and fragrant with all the herbs, served chopped in dark, soy-based sauce. Urai is a real beak-to-butt eating. You can order meat, neck, beaks, wings, legs, webs and intestine (which is available only on Wednesdays and Saturdays) to go along with a bowl or two of steamed rice (and they use good quality rice, too, which, see is supremely neat for them). Our staples are usually a big plate of meat (breast + dark together), a pair of wings and legs (optional, not always). Those with acquired tastes will also go for the neck (finely finely chopped, so you can enjoy the fatty parts picking them with your chopsticks), and the intestines are available only by reservations. Rare item in a goose, hence always in shortage.
The goose at Urai is just perfect. Tender, fragrant (with a hint of good sesame oil), and generous. Not too oily, not too sharp-tasting, but gently delicious. They serve their fare with ample amount of dipping vinegar sauce which for me is another of their secret weapon. Unlike other places that I have experienced, vinegar here, again, reflects their perfect cooking. Fresh garlic (neatly peeled) neatly chopped along with yellow chili and a bit of green parts of chives. The sharp, yet mellowed (by being pickled in the vinegar) taste of garlic in good fermented vinegar just add to the tasty momentum of each bite. They are so generous that without asking, they give us each a bowl of the dark sauce in addition to some already ladled in the chopped meat plate. So, meat, half-a-spoon splash of additional dark sauce, a tip of the spoon sprinkling of the garlic vinegar on soft steamed rice. Heaven!
This restaurant is naturally artisanal. The goose are all cooked in-house. One soup per day depending on the fresh available ingredient. So, no need to worry about what to choose. Just order whatever they are serving that day. We had a fabulous bowl of jing-ju-chai (white mugwort) soup with minced pork. See, another mastered soup. Clear as a good consommé, yet so deep and intense in taste. Wonderful.
Song Wat Road runs in parallel with the main Yaowarat Road in Bangkok Chinatown. For us, this old area is a quiet and cool escapade to the louder version of Chinatown. Song Wat Road is a loading dock, thanks to its proximity to the river, hence you will see lines of old and charming warehouses, some so fragrant thanks to the variety of dried herbs which are their main products, along with rice and other dried staples. A great road to walk around and snap away their century-old buildings. This is like a living museum in Bangkok Chinatown. Just truly awesome.
‘Urai Han Palo Songwat’ (อุไรห่านพะโล้ทรงวาด) (click for map)
Teochew-style braised goose – Song Wat Road. Open daily (except for Chinese monthly holy days which are usually 1st and 15th of the month). เปิดทุกวันเว้นวันพระจีน ควรโทรไปจองล่วงหน้า
T: 02-221-4413 (call to reserve or show up at 9.30 or little earlier).