I had a pleasant surprise in the back alleys of Patpong. Sometimes, it still happens. Bangkok surprises me with beautiful things that I discover in unlikely places.

When you are – like me- working and living in the Patpong Area, you see a lot of things every day that are not overly nice. They may be interesting, but they are sure not nice. For the last few years, I have been looking directly at a hotel in a small street, opposite my office. The name will not be mentioned now because I always thought that it was a –let’s say- pretty cheap and not overly nice place. You know…the kind of hotel you expect in an “entertainment” area with red light appeal.

So I was quite surprised when a friend invited me to go to the restaurant of that hotel.  My reaction was not so much “oh, thank you” but more “are you sure?” So we went to that little side street, turned left, opened the door and entered a world that was as much different from what was unexpected.

The outside of the hotel was kind of “70’s”- block architecture, not appealing at all. The interior and exterior of the restaurant was as Thai style as it gets.

It does not get more Thai- style

Lots of teak wood, dark, warm colors, silk, hardly noticeable music, traditional Thai artefacts and paintings. It was almost like moving around in a museum or a nice hi-end restaurant…but less stiff. In fact, the atmosphere was quite relaxing.

The next surprise came when we opened the menu. It was because the price did more match the outer experience than it fit the very nice and exclusive looking interior. The food was far from cheap. It was as far from expensive too, though.

There is a wide choice of very traditional Thai dishes available, as well as some creations that are unique to this restaurant such as the excellent appetizer called “Tung Tong”- small fried parcels filled with minced shrimps, chicken and holy basil.

Just great taste!

It also proves to be quite helpful that the menu has little chillies printed on it to mark the spicy food items on the list.

Aside from the mentioned Tong Tung, we had a grilled snapper, some chicken in tamarind sauce, spicy glass noodle salad and the inevitable Tom Yam Gung.  Everything was just excellent!

This restaurant is the best example that judging a book by its cover is wrong and something you should never ever do.

By the way, I found out by now that the “attached” hotel is way better on the inside than it looks from the outside. The rooms are contemporary Thai style and not that expensive, either.

So let me now “name and shame”- name them and shame me, for being overly judgemental. The Hotel is the “Rose Hotel” at 118 Surawongse Road and the restaurant is called “Ruen Urai”, which means “Golden House”.

If you are looking for a fantastic, authentic Thai dinner in a real nice, Thai-style surrounding, you should remember those names.