Bangkok‘s Samrub Samrub Thai: Named for Love, Reviving Lost Thai Dishes

Located in a residential area of Bangkok’s bustling Charoen Krung district, this very unique restaurant might be not easy to find on your first visit. Samrub Samrub Thai has recently secured a Michelin star and is ranked 31st among Asia’s 50 Best restaurants. The venue, housed in a white four-story renovated residence, offers an intimate chef’s table dining experience, where the interior ambiance feels like eating and drinking in a kitchen, with the host being an exceptionally skilled chef. It also serves as a gathering place full of memories and friendships.


The chef-owner, Prin Polsuk, a protégé of the renowned chef David Thompson, is well-known for his work at Nahm (ranked first amongAsia’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2014) and Sala Rim Naam, inspired by new discoveries and seasonal changes. He delves into rare cookbooks to recreate ancient Thai recipes that span multiple eras, according to seasonal shifts and new findings.

In my recent conversation with Prin, he shared his journey since leaving Nahm. During the pandemic, there was a period when he was out of the limelight, later reemerging from the pristine young guy to a rugged “wild uncle.” Chef Prin reflected on how quickly time passed and discussed his post-Nahm life, mentioning that David Thompson was like family to him. Since setting out on his own, Prin has experimented with new culinary styles in Bangkok, aiming to make cuisine more interesting and creative. He draws inspiration from everyday life, from villages and markets he visited across Thailand, seeking out old recipes to overturn past cooking directions and create an entirely new original menu.

Prin Polsuk and The Author(Right)

Discussing the cuisine at Samrub, Chef Prin explained, “In my view, the concept of Samrub is ‘friends first.’ While food is important, what truly makes this place special are the friends that transform it.” This philosophy, prioritizing friendship, has won the hearts and recognition of many patrons. They support the use of ingredients from local producers and some lesser-known manufacturers, like small farmers who brew various types of alcoholic beverages.

Regarding his culinary philosophy, Chef Prin emphasized the memories and feelings that food brings to people. He said, “The food here touches people’s souls. When my family comes here, they say, ‘Oh, this is our taste.’ It’s a flavor found in their memories. It’s not just about the food; it’s about memories and feelings.”

Deep fried great white sheatfish stuffed with shrimp paste and turmeric

When discussing his favorite dish, Chef Prin confessed a particular fondness for Deep fried great white sheatfish stuffed with shrimp paste and turmeric. This dish, inspired by traditional southern Thai cuisine, traditionally uses a lot of seabass, which after cleaning, is filled with shrimp paste prepared from Koh Samui, then fried to a golden crisp and served with rice for family sharing. At Samrub, the chef substitutes sheatfish for seabass, stuffing the fish meat with shrimp paste as filling, then coating it in sweet potato flour before deep-frying it to achieve a crispy exterior and tender interior.

The menu changes every two months, and this time the tasting included laab of tiger prawn with yellow eggplant and mint, served with fried shrimps, derived from the Northeastern Thai salad Laab. It uses plump prawns that, after blanching, are paired with eggplant and mint, then topped with fried shrimps for an added fresh and crispy flavor.

Another appetizer, deep-fried rice field crab with garlic and sea crab roe paste in its crispy shell features small rice field crabs deep-fried to a glossy finish, accompanied by a rich sauce based on garlic and crab roe with a side of lemon to enhance the freshness and add a refreshing touch to the dish. The Grilled braised free-range 21 days old baby chicken with fish sauce served with fresh chili and lime sauce uses organically reared baby chickens, grilled over an open flame to achieve crispy skin and tender, juicy meat; paired with a spicy sauce made from raw chili peppers and lime, plus fish sauce. Because it is a chef’s table, dishes are always served in perfect condition. After the meal, we tried different types of locally brewed beverages with Chef Prin’s wife, Mint, a very interesting experience, as relaxed and friendly as visiting friends, reminding me of the hospitality at Tokyo’s Den, a husband-and-wife-run establishment.

Deep fried rice field crab with garlic and sea crab roe paste in its crispy shell

Prin’s culinary skills are unquestionable; now he seeks to break free from his past frameworks. Although not fine dining in form, the craftsmanship and deliciousness of his dishes surpass many “high-end” restaurants, stepping away from fuss and complexity to enjoy delicious food, which should be the direction for many food enthusiasts tired of the usual menus in this era. Polsuk adjusts his research and seasonal ingredients to provide the utmost in seasonal and local flavors. Each visit also presents dishes from different perspectives, potentially representing different regional cuisines from various eras, offering more dimensional possibilities.I asked Chef Prin how he felt about working with his wife Mint. He simply and frankly replied, “Love.” In all his recent travels, it’s always possible to see him with his wife and son, feeling the emotional bonds and love he shares with his family.

Cooking is not just a skill, it’s an expression of emotions, a spirit of sharing and passing down traditions. Dining at Samrub, and interacting with the chef from start to finish at a large chef’s table, continues to make this place a confluence of cuisine and friendship.
Author: Jocelyn 华姐

Photo: Peray Hsiao/Instagram@samrubsamrubthai



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Jocelyn Chen
Jocelyn Chen
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