Last Updated: February 18, 2019
Just as its name suggests, Soul Food Mahanakorn in Bangkok dishes out yummy and authentic Thai food that comforts the soul. Think big portions of wok-fried pad thai, seafood fried rice, and warm bowls of savoury green curry with large chunks of fork-tender beef cheeks. Mmm!
Located a mere three-minute walk from Thong Lo BTS, this quaint little diner was opened by an American in 2010 with dreams of serving up good Thai street food in the comforts of a restaurant. Over the years, the menu has evolved to include a wide range of inventive cocktails as well.
You’ll recognise Soul Food Mahanakorn from the rustic wooden signage that’s hanging right outside its shop.
Deck in wooden decor, the restaurant resembled a Texas eatery more than anything else — to be entirely candid, I half expected it to serve fried chicken and waffles.
Soul Food Mahanakorn’s interior is small and cosy, with approximately six to seven tables on the first floor and a larger seating area upstairs that sits up to 25 people.
It’s air-conditioned and brightly lit thanks to the wide glass panels lining the front of the store. At night, the warm and yellow lighting from the hanging lamps casts the entire store in an orangey hue.
If you’re one for bar seats, ask to be seated at the bar counter instead. You’ll be greeted by an impressive shelf of liquor, and you get to see the bartender or waitress mix your drinks.
I was pretty impressed with Soul Food Mahanakorn’s service. Upon seating, I was given a menu and a tablet, which allowed me to scroll through various pictures of the dishes.
Being a visual person, I really appreciated being able to see what each dish looked like before ordering. This way, at least I’ll know what I’m paying for.
A Nice Crab Fried Rice (THB280) consisted of charred corn, brown rice, topped with spring onions and fresh crab meat. The dish was really fragrant with a strong wok hei taste and came with a green savoury seafood sauce.
What I really enjoyed about this dish was how naturally sweet the fried rice was thanks to the seafood stock base, which made each mouthful of fried rice soft and aromatic.
I especially liked the green seafood sauce, which was sharp, tangy, with a strong taste of lime and parsley, and packed a tinge of heat. I ended up mixing the entire green seafood sauce into the fried rice, it was that good!
The Pad Thai with Fresh Softshell Crab (THB400) was a definite showstopper because the entire softshell crab rested on a mount of stir-fried pad thai that was wrapped in a thin omelette.
Regular pad thai toppings, such as finely chopped peanuts, red pepper flakes, beansprouts, spring onions and a wedge of lime were placed on the side, so you can choose what you’d like to mix into your noodles.
Though the dish was certainly impressive to look at, the noodles itself were slightly too soggy for my preference. However, I liked that the soft shell crab was crispy on the outside, and the flesh was springy within. I wasn’t ashamed to say that I finished the entire crab.
Soul Food Mahanakorn’s Stir-Fried Egg Noodles (THB275) was one of my favourite dishes because of how silky smooth the noodles were.
Plus, the restaurant was super generous with the wild tiger prawns, house-cured bacon, chilli, bean sprouts and crabmeat.
Each strand of noodle was coated in a light gravy, and the seafood and crabmeat lent a sweetness to each bite. The house-cured bacon bits were slightly smoky and gave a crunchy texture to the dish, while the chilli slices weren’t overly spicy and instead were mild and tangy, and its aftertaste left a tinge of pleasant heat.
A special on their menu, the Green Curry with Braised Beef Cheek (THB300) was a real delight. The curry itself wasn’t spicy at all, but packed with a ton of herbs, such as basil, kaffir lime leaves, coriander and chilli, which made each spoonful fragrant and lip-smackingly savoury.
I particularly liked the braised beef cheek chunks, which were tender and fell apart easily when I picked them up with my fork. Each piece was tender because of how long it’s been slow cooked fo and reminded me of my mother’s braised beef stew because of how simple but satisfying each bite was.
The Stir-Fried Morning Glory with Crispy Pork (THB220) was a tad disappointing because of how overly salty the crispy pork was. When mixed in together with the vegetables, the pork turned soggy.
The stir-fried morning glory itself was well fried, with a slight kick of spiciness from the chilli and aromatic from the garlic.
While a meal at Soul Food Mahanakorn isn’t necessarily the cheapest around (especially considering how affordable Bangkok street food is), each dish’s large portions certainly made up for the price.
There were definitely hits and misses with each dish (some could’ve gone a little easy on the salt), but I appreciated being able to enjoy popular street food dishes in the comforts of an air-conditioned, clean and cosy environment.
I wouldn’t say that the meal was so satisfying that it comforted my soul, but it certainly left my tummy warm, full and satiated.
Expected Damage: THB275 – THB350 per pax
Price: $ $
Our Rating: 3 / 5
Soul Food Mahanakorn
56/10 Sukhumvit Soi 55, Thong Lo, Bangkok, Thailand
56/10 Sukhumvit Soi 55, Thong Lo, Bangkok, Thailand