My Choice – A Great Thai Restaurant in Bangkok
Michael Babcock (text, photos) & Kasma Loha-unchit (photos)
(This page added in May 2009. Updated March 2011.)
Don't miss: Thumbnails of food dishes at bottom of page.
Click any image to see a larger version.
5 Sukhumvit Soi 36 (Soi Napasap)
Bangkok residents, like all Thai people, love their food. Several years ago, in the early 1990s, a restaurant with incredibly delicious food at reasonable prices on Sukhumvit Soi 33 became the "in" place to go. For a couple of years you showed up 5 minutes late for your reservation at your peril: your seats would already be gone.
These days, although My Choice is no longer so trendy, the quality of the food has never varied: it has always been unfailingly excellent. Any dish is liable to be a "wow" experience, where you wish you had more space in your stomach or less people at the table so you could eat more and more of it. In a 2001 review, The Nation called it "one of the city's better Thai restaurants."
The decor is pleasant and bright, an attractive family-style restaurant.
Originally on Sukhumvit Soi 33 (for 12 years), in 2001 My Choice relocated to its current location on Sukhumvit Soi 36 (map to restaurant). The chef, all of this time, has been a Thai Woman, a mae krua (literally, "mother of the kitchen") named Ampai Boonrad.
Thankfully, now most of the menu is also in English. (You can see much of the menu on the My Choice website.) When we started coming here (I'm guessing 1992 or 1993), there was an extensive menu in Thai but only 29 items in English. In fact, I used this menu to teach myself to read Thai: I figured that if there was only one thing I could read in Thailand, it should be a menu!
One of the hallmarks of My Choice comes from the extremely fresh ingredients. Although My Choice is seldom full when we go these days, the over 80 items on the menu are uniformly fresh and appetizing. I remember one occasion when we came for lunch and ordered the roasted eggplant salad (something I am always tempted to order here). It took a little longer to arrive than the other dishes; when it came, the eggplant was still hot from the grill. Talk about fresh!
Everything we've ever had here has been good. I'd recommend that when you eat here, don't simply order things that you're familiar with. Use this restaurant to expand your Thai culinary horizons by taking a chance on a dish you've never heard of before.
Note: We have pictures of all of the dishes mentioned either in the article or accessible from the thumbnails at the bottom of the page.
One of the things that My Choice does especially well are the type of salads known by the Thai word yum.
Kasma always brings her small-group trips to My Choice, often for two meals during the trips, and there are three yum that she usually orders. One is item the Spicy Winged Bean Salad (Yum Tua Poo). Like all yum it is predominantly spicy and sour. What distinguishes this salad from the other yum are the large quantities of crispy, fried shallots on the top, adding another dimension to the salad. She also orders Spicy Water Mimosa Salad (Yum Pak Gkrachehd), also deliciously sour with fresh shallots and shrimp. My personal flavor is Spicy Eggplant Salad (Yum Makeua Yao) made with roasted eggplant. This salad is similar to the Water Mimosa Salad but distinguished by the delicious roasted eggplants. The long eggplants used in much of Thailand, and here, are a green variety that I've never seen in the states, that roast up with a delicious smokey flavor. When they call this dish spicy, they are not kidding! Also good are the Spicy Banana Blossom Salad (Yum Hua Bplee). We usually order only one of these per meal – they are fairly similar in flavor, all emphasizing sour (from lime juice) and spicy (from Thai chillies, prik kee noo). One last one to try, for people who like bitter melon, is the Spicy Bitter Gourd salad – it is similar to the Spicy Winged Been Salad.
My Choice also excels with curry dishes of all kinds. The best green curry I've ever had was one time at My Choice; and I've been eating delicious Thai food that Kasma makes plus at restaurants all over Thailand since 1992. On the menu it is Chicken Green Curry, (Gkaeng Kiow Wahn); you can also get it with pork or beef. When you taste it, it is immediately obvious that it is made with fresh coconut milk. It is always a wonderful dish, always excellent (if not always transcendent). Kasma also likes Beef Panang Curry Paste (Gkaeng Panaeng Neua), which is a rich, coconut-milk based curry. Another outstanding curry, this one made without coconut milk, is Chicken Curry Southern Style (Gkaeng Kua Gkai Bpak Dtai). Be warned: this dish is spicy! A dry curry, it's made with Thai eggplants, long beans, often with baby corn, chicken and a very spicy indeed red sauce. If chillies indeed release endorphins, thus improving your mood, this dish can put you into a state of bliss. (For more information on Southern food see Kasma's article Southern Cooking – Thai Style.)
Other Favorite Dishes
I'll only mention a few of our other favorites, things that we order time and time again, whether or not we are with trip members. The advantage to coming with a group is that we can order more dishes; the disadvantage is that we have to share favorites!
Another favorite is Roasted Duck with Gourd Leaves (Bped Awb Dam Leung). It consists of succulent Thai duck (much better than duck that I've had in the United States) with a type of gourd leaf all served in a brown sauce. This is a good non-spicy dish to throw into the mix. Thai people usually serve a variety of flavors and spice levels in their meals. You could also go for Roast Pork Leg with Gourd Leaves (Ka Moo Dtam Leung).
Fermented Fish Dip Served with Vegetable is a coconut-milk based sauce made with salted crab and served with various raw and blanched vegetables.
A terrific spicy dish is Squid Fried in Chili Sauce and Fresh (Pad Chah Bplah Meuk). This is a very spicy dish that receives added flavor from fresh green peppercorns and a root called gkrachai in Thai (often known as "rhizome" here in the U.S.).
If you want to try another taste of southern Thailand, try the Beef Curry with Roti; the roti here are excellent, flakey and delicious. The curry is good, too!
We recommend you finish up with a nice bowl of ice cream. I usually get the Coconut ice cream (Ait Cream Gkati) or the Taro Ice Cream (Ait Cream Peuak) while Kasma often gets the Basil Seed Ice Cream (Ait Cream Med Maeng Lak). (Note, these are not on the menu.) I believe that all of the ice creams are dairy free. These coconut-based ice creams are a good way to cool down a mouth that has just eaten some spicy dishes!
Luckily, it's very easy to get to My Choice. Take the skytrain to the Thong Lo stop. Go down to the street on the even soi side, walk back to Sukhumvit Soi 36 and walk up the soi – you'll see it on your left, the first break in the fence.
Click any image to see a larger version; then clicking the larger images will take you to the next image in sequence. Page titles and bold caption below the pictures are the name of the dish on the My Choice menu.
See also: Black Olive Rice at My Choice Restaurant (blog entry)
Read the article by Bangkok Restaurant Guide, review and food critic – My Choice Restaurant review on Sukhumvit 36 (2008).
Kasma Loha-unchit (photos). All rights reserved.