The Local, Bangkok

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The local was one of those places that had a menu I couldn’t resist. Everything on it looked good, everything was a gem I can’t not want to eat. Most of all was the dish above, an old recipe passed down from generations. The Local is based on a simple theory of preservation: keeping close to heart many ancient Thai recipes, each carefully collected by generations, some kept in families and some passed along to chefs to recreate. Our other favourite restaurant, BoLan, is similarly inspired, and it’s through these places that we’ve really come to discover authentically amazing local food. Other than chatuchak’s boat noodles, of which I’m massively enamoured.

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The Local didn’t disappoint on every dish, except perhaps once. When a restaurant of this repute says something is a “must-try”, I generally don’t think twice. But I’m only disappointed that I’d wasted precious space on something that didn’t wow as the rest of the meal had. A 1/2 KG grilled lobster seems to be all that jazz, but honestly we’d have given it up in a heartbeat to try just about anything else. The accompanied dipping was interesting but hardly inspired. But hang on, there’s treasures abound at the Local.

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We felt like we did something right with the Southern Style Stewed Pork. It reminds me of a dish I used to have as a kid. Relatives on my dad’s Hakka side used to make something like this with an impressively rich aroma hinged with anise. The pork was fork-tender and braised up to four hours, servied with quail and duck eggs.

If I remember, the second dish below is Gang Lun Juan: pork with Thai herbs and shrimp paste. According to the menu, it’s an old recipe of ML Neung Ninrat, a cook in the Rama V royal court. “Gang Lun Juan” seems to be a descriptive name or taste that locals associate with this dish. Can’t seem to find the translation for the term, suppose it’s a colloquial term of sorts? The dish in indeed marvellously addictive and frankly the second best out of the whole lot.

The real star of the meal was the Bai Cha Kram salad. As the description goes, it’s made with local vegetables grown in brackish water. It’s lovingly cuddled in coconut cream, shredded chicken and fried shallots. We couldn’t stop spooning this onto our plates of rice.

What makes The Local more than just any other Thai restaurant out there is truly the feeling of exploring Thai food through its history. It’s a difficult flavour to find and amazing to embrace.

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