The Mae Sri Ruen chain of restaurants is very well known
in Thailand, with several in Bangkok and a few here in Pattaya. Because it
is (correctly) thought of as a Thai venue offering only Thai food, it is not
a restaurant that comes to mind as a ‘farang’ alternative. This review may
change your mind.
Last week we went to Big C in North Pattaya fully
intending taking in a movie. Finding that the only suitable movie did not
start till 8 p.m. we decided to eat in the Center and made our way to Mae
Sri Ruen, a large Thai style restaurant we had eaten at before. The choice
of this restaurant, from the many in the center, was based on previously
experienced speed of service, reasonable food and inexpensive, and not the
ambience, which had generally been poor.
This time it was completely different! The area was about
half the size it had been, the d้cor was pleasant, the kitchen behind glass
was clean, and the service staff were pleasant, smiling and helpful. The
restaurant itself was no longer looking run down and dowdy, but was bright
and clean, with tables that had been correctly wiped down, and not the
previous perfunctory quick swipe. What a make-over!
The menu is a photographic one, and certainly makes
ordering simple, though it does have English and Russian versions. Perusing
the menu also showed that the same inexpensive items for which the Mae Sri
Ruen outlets are well known have continued. There is also a wall with
several coffees (hot and cold) and other beverages and ice creams on offer.
This Mae Sri Ruen has certainly moved itself into today!
Tables are free-standing in the middle of the restaurant,
and will cater for four, six or eight diners, and there are booths around
the perimeter for four to six. Marble topped tables and comfortable, but
serviceable steel seating. Clean dispensers for fish sauce, sugar, chilli
powder, etc., plus clean utensils and tissues and toothpicks are on every
table, too. Along one wall is the kitchen behind glass, with several cooks
seen to be working hard to keep the service staff busy.
Examples of items from the menu included boiled duck with
black sauce noodles with soup B. 38; fried rice with pork or chicken B. 45;
steamed rice, shrimps with holy basil and chili B. 65; and if you want to
add a fried egg to anything, you will pay and extra B. 8. I must add that
the menu itself was clean and not sticky and dog-eared, as had been in the
previous incarnation of this Asian fast food restaurant. We were beginning
to warm to this new experience.
I chose a stir-fried mussels on hot plate (B. 80) and
(since it was during the government’s enforced ‘dry’ weekend) I ordered a
can of cola, with some ice. I was very taken aback later when I asked for
the bill to find that the cola was only B. 20 and the ice was B. 1. I did
say that Mae Sri Ruen was inexpensive!
We were very pleasantly surprised by this revamped Mae
Sri Ruen outlet. My stir-fried mussels on a hot plate was excellent, with
the mussels sitting on a bed of very fresh bean sprouts. And the hot plate
was indeed hot.
For a quick and pleasant dining experience we can
heartily recommend the Big C’s Mae Sri Ruen. If you had been to this
restaurant before, you would agree with the description I gave at the start
of this review. Let me assure you that the comparison to today is amazing.
I had gone there for a quick meal before the movies. I
ended up enjoying the experience so much that I decided to make the Big C
Mae Sri Ruen the subject of this week’s revue. They did not know that this
would happen, and were probably a little perplexed at why this person was
taking photographs. Now they know.
Mae Sri Ruen, Big C Shopping Center, Second Road, North
Pattaya. No booking necessary, secure parking in the Big C car park. Open
seven days, 11 a.m. until 11 p.m.