Rut & Lek Seafood Restaurant
Yaowarat & Soi Texas, Bangkok
Price: Under $25 for three (including beer) (go with friends)
The first time I tried to visit the Rut & Lek Seafood Restaurant, I failed. I went to the correct street intersection, but it was 4 pm. At that time of day there isn’t even a hint of a restaurant. If memory serves, there is a locksmith on that corner.
The second time, I got the hour right and the corner was transformed. Rickety metal tables and rickety plastic chairs line the sidewalk, even the road. There is a large wok over an open flame, a grill, and vats upon vats of the freshest seafood imaginable.
Rut & Lek serves up superlative Chinese seafood with nothing for ambience but beggars, exhaust fumes and bedlam from the perpetual traffic jam on Yaowara. Sit down with your friends (please, bring friends so you can try more food), order a round of beers, and take a look at the picture-menu the waiters will plop down in front of you. Or spy on what your neighbors are eating. In all probability they are either a) locals or b) regulars, and they know what’s good. Some suggestions: the grilled giant shrimp (the accompanying dipping sauce is excellent—eat like the locals do: crack the head off from the body, suck out the brains, toss the head over your shoulder, and get to work on the body), the crab fried rice, the whole fish steamed in foil.
And then there’s the mother of them all: Crab stir-fried in its roe with black pepper. The crab may be the best you’ve ever eaten, but most every dish (except, strangely, their tom yum goong) is delicious. You and your friends will leave your rickety metal table full, liquored up, and hankering to come back for more. Everyone does.