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Bangkok’s Best Kept Secret?

By: Mike Behnken Posted: July-28-2010 in
Sanjorn Cooking on Suan Plu Soi 8
Mike Behnken

I happened to be looking at an apartment on Sathorn 3, Suan Plu Soi 8 one night when I walked past a unique food stall/restaurant. Outside from the main dining area was a food stall with 2 pans with wonderful looking, sizzling steaks. The minute I saw the steaks I new I had to try this place so I sat down and ordered.

After a few minutes I received my steak flambe’ and was immediately impressed by the presentation as well as the aroma. I was hooked after the first bite as the meat was tender and delicious while the sauce was extraordinary. After I finished the best steak I’ve had in Bangkok I asked for the “Check Bin” (check bill in Thai) and I was amazed that the price was only 150 baht! ($4.63 USD).

I knew there was something fishy about this particular place to eat in Bangkok because I noticed the chef was paying incredible attention to detail while preparing the food. I started talking with chef Sanjorn (or John). It turns out Sanjorn is a current/former chef at the Sukhothai which is one of the swankiest 5-star hotels in all of Thailand! He is an incredibly nice guy who is more than willing to tell you everything about his food as well as practice his English while you practice your Thai.
Sanjorn Cooking on Suan Plu Soi 8

Sanjorn Cookshop’s Location (click pics to see map)
Although the area is out of the way for most foreigners it is a great neighborhood. I remembered vividly how much I liked the neighborhood because it was where the old Thai immigration center was. In addition to the many food stalls on Thanon Suan Plu, there is a wonderful outdoor food market right at the beginning of the soi. It is easy to see the area is close to a major university as there are uniformed students everywhere.

The actual location of Sanjorn Cookshop is on Sathorn (Thai: สาทร) or Sathon 3, Suan Plu Soi 8. It is 4 shops down on the left hand side where you will see the outside cooking area and the inside dining area. It is relatively close to both Sala Daeng BTS, and Lumpini & Silom MRT stations but I take my bicycle there. It takes me around 20 minutes via bicycle to get to Sanjorn Cookshop from my apartment at Sukhumvit Soi 13.

The Food & Menu
The steak is what I order almost every time I head to Sanjorn Cookhouse. Each time the steak meal has subtle differences based on what’s available and so far everything has been absolutely delicious. The menu is hardly limited to steak as the other menu items which include everything from salmon, to fish, to pork to traditional Thai dishes look amazing. The best part is everything on the menu is affordable. I have had food at restaurants in Bangkok that cost several times more than John’s food but the taste pales in comparison.

Overall Impression
When dining out at a place for the first time I can immediately categorize the place into one of 3 categories: 1. Will never eat at again, 2. Will possibly eat at again and 3. I’m coming back tomorrow and Sanjorn Cookshop easily fit in the number 3 category. The chef John is a very nice guy who can provide a lot of information about the food he prepares.

Rated 4 Buddhas

John’s experience and abilities as a chef are likely in the top 1% of Bangkok restaurants and he offers his tasty creations for a fraction of the price that it would cost elsewhere. Since the price is so affordable I look at Sanjorn as an affordable “personal chef.” Even though the location is “out of the way” to most foreigners living in Bangkok, it is a breath of fresh air with mostly Thai people, some cool shops, markets and of course my favorite place to eat in Bangkok, Sanjorn Cookshop.

More About Mike Behnken



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