In researching places to eat in Bangkok, Krua Apsorn was a restaurant repeatedly recommended, including multiple shout outs by David Thompson himself. Something of a Bangkok institution frequented by foodies in the know, Krua Apsorn have a few branches in the city, however the original branch on Samsen Road near Samsen Soi 9 is considered the branch to visit. Although the restaurant does apparently take reservations, their website is in Thai and I wasn't sure if sending them an email in English would be understood, so we decided to chance it and get to the restaurant for their opening. Just as well we did - almost every table was already booked, and waiting outside in the hot weather would not have been very fun at all.
When visiting Krua Apsorn, it is basically mandatory to order the Stir-fried Crab in Curry Powder. The restaurant's famous signature dish, the Crab meat was cooked perfectly, being sweet and incredibly succulent. The Curry Powder mix that the Crab is stir-fried in was complex and flavoursome, but was decidedly mild in terms of chilli heat. After a few fairly hot meals, Alissa and I were happy to be eating this milder dish however those looking for something a bit hotter, a Yellow Chilli variant is also available. Regardless of heat level, this is definitely a must order dish that is well deserving of its cult status.
It might seem odd to order two Crab dishes, but the Omelet with Crab is another of Krua Apsorn's famous signatures.
The dish is pretty impressive - I'm not sure how they make an omelette so fluffy while being this thick, but they evidently have found a way. The omelette was perfectly seasoned and light, with delicious, sweet flakes of Crab meat throughout. Simple but well executed, this is another definite must order.
I had heard that the Stir-fried Green Mussels with Basil Leaves was another must order dish, however as Alissa does not particularly like Mussels we decided to go with the Yellow Curry with Prawns and Lotus Shoot. This was not the yellow curry we were looking for. Little did we know at the time that their are actually two Thai Yellow Curries, and this sour and thin curry was nothing like the thick, luxurious Yellow Curry style we knew. We didn't really dig the overwhelmingly sour flavour, but concede that it was probably a case of cognitive dissonance given the dish did not taste at all like we were expecting. The biggest disappointment however were the Prawns - the measly three prawns in the bowl were tough and overcooked, making for a roundly disappointing dish. Alissa didn't want to eat much of it, and in hindsight she would have probably liked the Green Mussels more in spite of usual preferences. Oh well, live and learn.
The Verdict: Very Good
This was a tough one to judge; if Krua Apsorn had been an ostensibly one dish restaurant like Thip Samai, then the Stir-fried Crab and the Omelet with Crab would have to score fairly highly, given both dish were executed skillfully and were definitely worthy of the slightly inconvenient trip to Samsen Road. The Yellow Curry on the other hand really let Krua Apsorn down, especially given the stingy three prawn serve was also overcooked and rubbery. Given the Stir-fried Crab was an Excellent + level dish, the Omelet with Crab an Excellent and the Yellow Curry an Okay, the Krua Apsorn would average out to a very strong Very Good. That said, if you were to stay away from the Yellow Curry, Krua Apsorn would be a significantly more enjoyable experience - well worth visiting for the quality of their Crab dishes.