By Eric Lim
Krua Ja Daeng or Ja Daeng’s Kitchen is a quaint restaurant located on the banks of the Bang Phrom Canal in Taling Chan on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River about 12 km from Bangkok’s city centre.
The Bang Phrom Canal extends westwards leading to the Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market and this network of canals will eventually connect to the Koh Sarn Chao Community, an old community that’s surrounded by canals turning it into a serene island.
Thankfully Taling Chan still retains a considerable network of canals that have not been covered up in the course of development unlike in Central Bangkok. Some of the waterside communities here still retain the charm of old Bangkok.
As I don’t usually write about places to eat, we didn’t go looking for this restaurant. We just stumbled upon it by accident more than a year ago while we were visiting Wat Inthrawat across the canal. Again, we returned to this place not by design but by force of circumstances.
More than a year after our first visit to Wat Inthrawat, we were on our way back from Nakhon Pathom late one afternoon and were caught in a massive traffic jam.
As we tried to avoid the traffic, we found ourselves pushed along this way and decided to have dinner here while we waited for the traffic to clear.
That was how we ended dining at Krua Ja Daeng. The restaurant is so obscure and inaccessible that you can hardly find it by chance. That’s why it’s one of Bangkok’s hidden treasures.
For the location, please see map to Krua Ja Daeng
The restaurant, located on the southern banks of the Bang Phrom Canal, is not directly accessible by car from the south because of the narrow footpaths in the area. It’s easier to get there by going to Wat Inthrawat from the north, park in the temple grounds and then cross the pedestrian bridge to the restaurant.
While you are there, take a look around Wat Inthrawat, an old temple built in 1606 during the Ayutthaya era. Visit the temple in the late afternoon before crossing over the canal for dinner.
Let’s take a look at what’s cooking at Ja Daeng’s Kitchen. Krua Ja Daeng specializes in game or jungle food (aharn – food, pa - jungle).
We first crossed the concrete bridge over the Bang Phrom Canal, walked along a footpath and crossed a narrow foot bridge to the restaurant. The décor on the way in sets the mood for the evening.
Hanging birds’ nests and beautifully hand painted fans decorate the way.
The signature dish in Krua Ja Daeng is a fiery curry called kaeng pa or jungle curry (kaeng – curry, pa – jungle). It’s hot and spicy and guaranteed to perk you up. Kaeng pa is served with fish, pork, chicken, wild boar or frog. Alternatively, these meats can be fried with hot spices.
Here’s what we had.
If you don’t have the stomach for this kind of food, the kitchen serves the more conventional dishes like deep fried pork strips, chicken, baked prawns, barbecued squid, a variety of steamed fish, preserved crab, papaya salad (som tam) and mango salad (yam ma muang).
If you like something really mild, there’s tofu and vegetable soup available.
It’s not just the food that’s the attraction at Krua Ja Daeng, the location and décor of the restaurant are also a draw. Dine by the canal side in a restaurant with a traditional wooden décor. It’s apparent that the owner has taken considerable efforts to decorate the place to fit the setting.
As it wasn’t crowded, we got a table by the canal with Wat Inthrawat on the far bank.
Some of the decorative pieces are these masks used in the Phi Ta Khon Festival (Ghost Mask Festival) in Dan Sai, Loei a province in North-eastern Thailand on the banks of the Mekong.
This three-day festival takes place on the first weekend after the sixth full moon (around June/July). The people in the village of Dan Sai parade through the town in ghost masks and colourful costumes.
The dining area is surrounded by plants and flowers which add to a very pleasant ambience.
There is not much traffic along the canal, only two boats passed while we were having our dinner. There weren’t very many diners and the place is quiet, ideal for a peaceful evening out.
The canal is teeming with fish eagerly feeding on any food thrown to them.
After this very pleasant dining experience, I would give Krua Ja Daeng top marks for food, setting, ambience and service. Try it out.
How to get there
Cross the Taksin Bridge – Ratchapruek Road – Inthrawat Road – Wat Inthrawat. Please see the markers shown in the map.
Krua Ja Daeng is open every day from 1000 – 2200 hours except on the 1st and 16th of every month.
Contact: Tel: 02 865 5227, 089 988 7116, 089 067 3693
Parking Free parking is available in the grounds of Wat Inthrawat.
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