This place got some pretty outstanding reviews elsewhere, mainly due to their extensive suki menu (and is is mahoosive), and sure enough when I went inside it was so jam packed that I had to stand around for space to sit. I’m not sure if they take reservations, but if you are planning to go during a busy mealtime then calling ahead is worth a try.
I ordered two dishes: the morning glory suki and the assam vegetable, both soups. Thai sukiyaki, or suki, also often called a steamboat, is a communal dish in which various vegetables, meats, and seafood are cooking in a pot of broth. A spicy and tangy sauce is served alongside in which to dip the cooked ingredients.
The suki dish I ordered (which was more of a mini suki for one, served in a small soup bowl), featured a salty, half clear broth with a sesame undertone. The bowl came filled with an assortment of goodies, including enoki and shiitake mushrooms, Chinese cabbage, morning glory, fried yuba, and various faux meats and seafood.
I had yet to try suki sauce, so was intrigued at the uniqueness of this tangy red sauce which came served alongside the soup. It tasted moderately of grape, but with much of the sweetness removed, and a smack of lime. I have since started using it in noodle dishes at home; if you are interested in finding a jar of suki sauce, most of the shops in London’s Chinatown sell it.
When people speak of laksa, they are generally referring to the curried version which utilises coconut milk in its base. Assam laksa, however, is a sour soup traditionally made with fish paste and tamarind.
Kwan Imm Jae’s assam vegetable laksa was also full of fabulous veggies (cauliflower, green beans, mushroom, some veg I couldn’t identify, and probably the best faux fish I’ve ever consumed), and it tasted marginally like fire. To be fair, the guy who appeared to be in charge did try to impress upon me the spiciness of the dish when I placed my order. He also checked on me frequently after delivering my meal, presumably to ensure I hadn’t internally combusted. Determined, I got a good two-thirds of it down, and not wholly without pleasure. The flavour was outstanding, like any good laksa, but just a tad on the fiery side for me on that particular afternoon.
The suki menu at Kwan Imm Jae is considerable, so it would be nice to return with a group of hungry buddies to merit ordering a few different variants. There are also quite a few unique-looking faux meat dishes on which I had my eye, so I will absolutely return next time I’m in BKK (which I hope, as always, will be very soon).
Kwan-Imm Jae Restaurant, 6/16 Sukhumvit Soi 24/1, Bangkok, Thailand