Shri Ganesha Restaurant
Bangkok’s South Indian Food Specialists
Before I start, I should probably mention that my blood is 80% Indian curry. From my turmeric tip-toes, to my Juniper berry belly, right up to my ginger hair – I can eat Indian food 3 times a day, every day. I love the spices and aromas and flavours. I also love the variety. That being said, outside of India – the spice of life tends to be limited to only a handful of variations which have found their way into the world’s palate. Not that I’m complaining, mind you – the selection is still substantial – but finding a nice selection which isn’t on your usual menu is always a treat. It seems that finding south Indian food is generally a lot trickier than all the curries of the north. Located down a tiny side street in the busy streets of Bangkok, lays a very inconspicuous restaurant, with phenomenally low prices compared to most Indian restaurants in the city. Shri Ganesha serves up some of the best of south Indian food!
If you’re expecting glamour, you’ve come to the wrong place. Nestled down a tiny side street, you would miss it completely unless you were actively looking for the signage. Once inside, it’s florescent tube lighting, tiled floors and TV blaring Bollywood music only adds to the hole-in-the-wall mom and pop feel. Like any good local restaurant, however, you shouldn’t be coming for the decor – the food is the important part. Many subtle elements, such as the stainless steel plates lined with banana leaves just add to that dining experience you would expect in a local restaurant in the backwaters of Kochi. The clientele we encountered consisted primarily of other Indians as well, which in my opinion, is always a good sign in an Indian restaurant!
Of course, asking for the opinion of the staff is always a good start. You can discuss their daily specialties, and also try to find something which fits your particular taste. Our group of intrepid foodie explorers had more of an idea of what we were after, however. When you come to a Southern Indian restaurant, expecting Butter Chicken and Tikka Masala will leave you fairly disappointed. Southern India’s palate is far less spicy, and it’s all in the subtleties.
Before ordering, we all started with some fairly standard samosas to start. An easy starter dish, they were cooked to perfection, with just the right amount of spice. On to the entrees. I thought back to my trips to India, and south indian food. I remembered the pride in their dosas – an paper thin crepe. It would be served with dips and whatever stuffing you order. Both Gesa and myself decided to try some of their rava masala dosa varieties, while Marianne went with a chickpea (known as channa) curry. We all sampled each others selections of south indian food and I felt were quite satisfied with all of our choices! We had each intended to order a cup of their creamy and frothy Madras coffee, but had somehow forgotten along the way. Was forgetting to order the coffee possibly a subconscious tactic to need to go back there? Was this my brain’s subtle way of telling me it needs more south indian food in it’s life?
Not the easiest spot to find, you’re going to have to keep your eyes peeled when on the lookout. This is really a back-alley kinda joint. If you’re coming by BTS (Skytrain) or MRT (Subway) you’ll need to get off around Asok station. Then you’ll need to walk several blocks (about 7 mins) to Sukhomvit Soi 20/1 (which is actually situated between Soi 18 and 20, just to confuse you more – oh, and it doesn’t have a street sign). If coming from the other direction, it’s about half way between Asok and Phrom Phong BTS stations. Now if you’re able to find this unlabelled alley between these two sois, you’re smooth sailing. It’s only about 20 meters up from there, and there’s not much else around it. The signage is a little camouflaged, but should still be visible.
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It’s one of the cheapest Indian restaurants I’ve seen in Bangkok, and perhaps even in Thailand. Not bad, given an ideal central location, and a unique niche of South Indian food. I’ll certainly go back to try other dishes, though selection is limited, there’s plenty of South Indian food I’d like to try from there. If you’re looking for posh – turn around. If you’re looking for something that feels like you could be in a homestyle restaurant in the back waters of India, with a unique array of south indian food – this is your spot!
Have you ever been to a restaurant that specialized in South Indian food? How did you like it? Was there any dishes in particular you would suggest to someone who hasn’t tried South Indian food before?
Please feel free to share your stories and opinions in the comment section below!