CHAWANG MAE UWAY – SOUTHERN FOOD RESTAURANT
375 ซอย วังหลัง 4 Siriraj, Khet Bangkok Noi, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10700
Most restaurants representing the southern food of Thailand have a display of various dishes ready to serve over rice. At Chawang Mae Uway, however, the spread is impressive. Daily the restaurant makes anywhere from 30-40 different dishes. Each day those dishes are not the same either. Of course, they have the foundation dishes that everyone expects to get when entering their shop, e.g. geng som, muu palo, nam prik and veggies, etc. You will be guaranteed to find something that suites you.
Origin of Chawang (#Aunties of Thailand)
The restaurant has been a family run business. Today, the original chef is 90 years old. Over 30 years ago, the restaurant was passed from Auntie to Mom. These days, after 50 years in business, the daughters take care of the restaurant. Mom now rests in a house down the road. Her fifth daughter, Ungit, is the main manager. Most of her siblings went to study and learn, and she decided to help her mother in the kitchen. Ungit’s older sister was the third and stayed to help as well. But once Dtoy married, she went to live with her husband and Ungit stayed back. Dtoy returned after her husband’s death and is now 72.
They both had watched as her mom had raised 7 children with the restaurant as a way to make a living and support the family. Ungit had studied as a girl, perhaps until the age of 14 or 15.
Skill of Cooking
“It just came to me,” Ungit described of her cooking skills. She enjoyed it too, and had the heart for it. Some of her siblings became doctors, others are professors at Chulalunkorn and Kaset universities. She studies in the kitchen.
As for Dtoy, she said it came from the love of eating. All she had to do was to taste the food and she would know what needed to be added. Some of the other siblings could taste that it was missing something, but they never developed the skills to modify the dish until it was matching their taste.
A taste of the South
The foods flavor is different than many southern style restaurants. Each province, and each Amphoe (sub-district) within the province will have its own style of flavoring the food. For example, the palo with pork belly and boiled egg was slightly sweeter and more herbal than other dishes. The flavor was deeper. The geng som (orange curry) was spicy, yet balanced with the sweet-sour of the soft coconut meat and papaya.
The food matches the flavors of their origins.
A relative started Chawang, and then passed the restaurant onto their mother. The origins of their aunt is from the province Nakhorn Sri Thammarat, in the amphoe Chawang (for a limited view of the region, check out the amphoe’s collection of Instagram pictures). Hence, the name of the restaurant and the unique flavors originating from this kitchen.
The choice of 30-40 dishes they make each day is dependent on the ingredients they get from the market every morning. Almost all the vegetables and other basic items for the food comes up by train from the South. They pick it up from the Bang Noi train station and return to decide what to fix. They always have the basics, but there is a seasonality to much of the food. So, depending on the season you may get a specialty curry, or a different fresh fish catch.
For a taste of the South, it’s worth taking a morning to explore Bangkok Noi train station. Once you get hungry for a real meal, drop in for an authentic meal from amphoe Chawang. You surely won’t be disappointed.
Our Menu – We’d Reccommend
Penang Curry with Pork – Not typically this brown color, you will find this authentic Thai dish an adventure into the variety of cuisine possible in Thailand.
Sataw (stink bean) stir fried with gapi (shrimp paste) – It may sound unappealing, but this is one of the staple favorites of many southerners, and once you get a few bites in you will understand why the balance of the herbal beans works well with the salty sauce of shrimp paste.
Khaao Yam – Rice salad is a refreshing dish (perfect for vegetarians) including sour green mango slices, a variety of herbs, and toasted coconut flakes. It is brought together with a sweet and salty sauce, and in case you like it more sour you may consider squeezing a wedge of lime.
Sweet shrimp – You only need a few bites to have a candy-like experience with these shrimp. It is perfect to balance with the spice and salty of other dishes.
Fried fish of any kind – This one is unique for many non-Thai people (okay, Americans…), because of the full fish on the plate, head and all. Slowly pull away the meat from the bones on each side, and make sure to get a spoonful of the deep fried garlic that tops the dish as well.
If you like Southern Food and you’re looking for another adventure, check out our post on Southern Food at the Flats.
Map of Chawang: