Siam square and all the malls that surround it has become the new center for shopping in Bangkok. There are several shopping malls one after another – the older Siam Discovery Center and Siam Center (of which their third floor is exclusive to young and upcoming Thai designers), MBK Center or Mah Boon Krong (for designer handbag copies) and the new Siam Paragon, opened in 2005 which is the largest shopping mall in the city.
A family friend who is also a California wine representative and long-time Bangkok resident, J, invited M and I to a mid-week lunch and took us to the Gourmet Paradise level of Siam Paragon mall where we went to Cafe Chilli. This is one of J’s favorite Thai restaurants and they specialize in Northeastern Thai cuisine or E-sarn (also know as Issan) style street food.
J ordered many different dishes for us to try: spicy papaya salad with soft shell crab, tom yum soup, grilled chicken with the sweet and spicy Jaew dip, grilled pork which came with little baskets of sticky rice in different flavors (black, pandan and plain), spicy pork dumplings, crispy fried catfish and deep-fried vegetables. In typical Thai style, all the food came at the same time and was served family-style so we dug in and shared everything. We started off with the clear soup which was sinus-clearingly spicy but delicious. The dumplings were probably the spiciest dish on the table while the pork and chicken were simply grilled and served with their own dips. The crispy vegetables and refreshingly tangy papaya salad helped ease the chili heat. After a long lunch spent catching up (the last time J and I saw each other was in 2000 at the VinExpo in Bordeaux), we said goodbye to J and M & I decided to wander around the shopping mall a bit longer, walking off our large lunch.
Ground floor (Gourmet Paradise)
Siam Paragon mall
991 Rama I Road
Telephone: +66 2 610 9877