Friday, February 20, 2015

[Bangkok] Somboon Seafood (建興酒家) @ Siam Square One

Somboon Seafood (建興酒家) is well known for its fried curry crab and has been featured in various travel guides and blogs alike.  Yet, it's no secret that Bangkok taxi drivers would scam unsuspecting travelers and/or diners to it's infamous twin - Somboon Dee - to receive a kickback.



We experienced just that when I brought my parents to the Bantadthong location a few years ago (2009).  The first taxi made us get off after we told him clearly we don't want Somboon Dee.  A few taxis just outright refused to take us to the right Somboon.  Although we eventually ended up at the right place, the experience was such a let down it really wasn't worth the trouble.

My friend, who arrived before we did, ordered their signature fried curry crab.  Unbeknownst to us, the manager sold him a "discounted" crab.  (Can't blame him, he intended to treat us and he didn't know.)  When the crab was brought to us, I was eager to try the claw and actually liked the sauce.  My mom went for a piece of the body and she spit it out almost instantaneously, stating the crab was stale.  My dad was furious and asked for the manager.  Eventually the truth came out and the manager agreed to send it back (i.e. the crab is dead).  It left quite an impression to my friend and I.  I've never seen my parents act like that at restaurants, especially when there is an outsider...  Good thing my friend took the incident quite well (we still joke about it).  Needless to say, I can't remember anything else I ate that night...

This was that crab dish I will remember for the rest of my life.

Because I never actually tried the body, I was always curious if my parents overreacted or if the restaurant is overrated.  So fast forward to 2015, I finally had a chance to revisit Somboon.  Thank goodness they have opened a few new stores so I don't have to endure the same heartache to find a taxi that would take me to the right place.  The branch I went this time is their newest shop in Siam Square One.


I was promptly seated and I was eager to try the curry crab again.  The sauce was still as good as memory but to my dismay, my mom was absolutely right about the crab.  The crab wasn't fresh.  The claw was about the only thing that's edible.  I could not bring myself to eat the body after a bite.  I was further put off when I discovered there were more than 2 claws in the dish.  I ordered a (S) thinking they would give me a smaller crab.  Nope - it was an assembly of miscellaneous butchered crab parts... (Unless it's genetically engineered, have you seen a crab with more than two claws naturally?)  I keep wondering why - why couldn't they serve live crab?  Does it take that much more work than to risk their reputation?  Or do they think that their customers can't tell?  If you read their menu very closely, I think you will find the answers you were looking for.

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This was what arrived at the table
This was how much food I left.
I didn't even bother to box it.

The cockles fair better.  Again, the green chili dipping sauce was excellent.  But there were maybe 7-8 of the cockles on my plate that weren't fresh.  Yet, I want to give my server props when she saw me struggling with the cockles and offered to help me open them.  (Truth be told, I was just slow.)

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The only thing I could finish during this meal was the stir-fried bitter gourd tips... /sad

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Let's face it, food in Bangkok is not expensive and I don't think ordering a live crab would break the bank.  Needless to say, this will be my last trip to Somboon.  However, I am glad I could finally put my curious mind to rest.  Next time I want crab in Bangkok, I think I would go to Nam Sing (南星) in Chinatown.  (Disclaimer: I haven't been back for a very long time.)

Green Pepper Crab @ Nam Sing
This is what fresh and delicious crab looks like to me.

Somboon Seafood @ Siam Square One
4th fl., Siam Square One Building Rama 1 road, Patumwan, Bangkok 10330 (BTS Siam Station)
Tel: +66 (02) 1151 4012
Hours: 11:00 AM - 10:00 PM

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