Our “Hey! Japanese Texi Driver” series makes its overseas debut.

Here at SoraNews24, we like to travel, and we like to eat. So recently we’ve been combining those passions with a series we call “Hey, Japanese Taxi Driver,” in which we ask the cabbies at our travel destinations to drive us to the best local restaurant serving up regional specialties.

Obviously, though, “Hey, Japanese taxi driver” isn’t a phrase we can use on our overseas adventures. Still, we think the core concept should still work internationally, which is why on a recent trip our reporter Ikuna Kamezawa made a slight adjustment and said “Hey, Thai tuk-tuk driver, take me to the best Thai restaurant!”

But first, a little background. For those who haven’t had the pleasure of riding one, tuk-tuks are motorized trikes that you’ll see running around Thailand as taxis. Their colorful paint jobs and open seating makes them feel a little like an amusement park ride, and they’re a fun way to get around big cities like Bangkok, where Ikuna was on her trip.

There is a drawback, though, according to Ikuna. Since tuk-tuks are a unique symbol of Thailand, they’re especially popular with visitors from overseas, and some of the drivers in tourist-oriented areas like the Bangkok city center might overcharge you for your ride when they see you’re from out of town, she says. So to avoid that, Ikuna got out of downtown and headed to the Wongwian Yai neighborhood, over on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River.

Wongwian Yai has two rail stations, one for the national railroad line and one for the BTS Skytrain. The area around the Skytrain station has a number of wholesalers dealing in fabric, paper, metal fixtures, and paints.

Compared to the hustle and bustle of the city center, the atmosphere is much more laid back, and to Ikuna it felt a little like walking around the Asakusa “old town” section of Tokyo.

Ikuna seemed to be the only tourist around, with everyone else apparently a local working or doing their daily shopping. Unfortunately, this also meant that there weren’t any tuk-tuks looking for fares nearby, so she headed to the national railway station, which was about a 20-minute walk away, where there was a group of the vehicles parked near the entrance.

Though Ikuna has been to Thailand about 20 times, her grasp of the language isn’t very strong. Luckily for her there was a manager of sorts arranging tuk-tuk rides for passengers, and he and Ikuna were able to use their common English skills to communicate. Ikuna said she’d like her driver to take her to the best Thai restaurant in the area, which he said he could do for 50 baht (US$1.35), and away they went!

Ikuna’s driver dropped her off in front of a restaurant called Go Bamee Sarapee, located somewhere between the neighborhood’s two rail stations. She’s sur she never would have been able to find the place on her own, and looking inside she could see a cozy family-run eatery with seating for about 10 customers.

Again, Ikuna’s not exactly fluent in Thai, or even conversational, if she’s being honest. She was in luck, though, since the restaurant has pictures of some of their specialties, and using them Ikuna was able to order a bowl of noodles with wantons and pork.

After a short wait, Ikuna’s had her…well, honestly, she’s not sure what it’s called. She didn’t even know how much it was going to cost her. What she did know, though, was that it looked delicious!

And that visual impression turned out to be completely accurate. The flavor was simple but tasty, with the meaty notes of the pork and wantons blending nicely with the chopped green onion and crisp Napa cabbage.

▼ There was also a selection of condiments like nam pla (Thai fish sauce) and chilies, but Ikuna was happy with the flavor of her noodles just as they were served.

Ikuna added a cola to her order, and while she didn’t have any dessert, the end of her meal was still sweet when she found out the whole thing had cost her just 209 baht (US$5.79), a price she was more than happy with.

So Go Bamee Sarapee has earned a spot on Ikuna’s Bangkok eating itinerary, and it’s a great place to grab lunch before heading to the “middle aged man’s paradise” izakaya for dinner.

Photos © SoraNews24
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