After surviving an all-night flight across the Pacific, complete with a painful layover in Taipei, I was excited to experience my first full day in Bangkok. Armed with John Powers’ Gourmet restaurant round-up, I set out into the triple-digit heat to devour my first authentic Thai meal.
I chose Le Lys, which was the restaurant closest to my hotel and as it turned out, a satisfying culinary kickstart to my stay. Set 200 feet down a tree-lined alley, there was no sign from the street, so I never would have discovered this restaurant on my own. The repurposed two-story white house featured an inviting outdoor patio, but given the withering heat, I had no choice but to sit indoors.
Le Lys looked like it was airlifted from Ha Noi, with its French colonial feel. France never occupied Thailand. Hell, Thailand’s never been occupied. Turns out Le Lys’ look is the product of Philippe Delmas, the French ex-pat owner, who runs the place with his Thai wife, Paty.
A photo-inclusive flipbook menu held plenty of tantalizing options. Given the sweltering heat and the light nature of Thai food, I was able to consume mass quantities. For the first of my three lunch selections, I ordered “Mango Salad with Caramelized Shrimp (75 baht, less than $2). An interesting variation on green papaya salad, julienned green mango arrived in a chili broth with shredded onion and a topping of caramelized, crispy shrimp. The dish was outstanding, spicy, sweet and crunchy.
“Stuffed Squid in Tamarind Sauce” (120 baht) featured four squid stuffed with pork and glass noodle forcemeat. The sauce was sweet and the cephalopod tender.
Philippe said his favorite dish was “Duck Breast in Penang Curry” (180 baht, about $4.50). I could taste why. The sliced duck breast was rich and tender, in a nutty tasting brown curry. The curry was fairly spicy, and the crispy basil leaves were scrumptious.
Le Lys formed steamed white rice into the shape of a Teddy bear, a nice touch.
Given the combination of solid food, affordable prices and charming setting, Le Lys would inspire a blizzard of posts on Chowhound message boards in Los Angeles. For Bangkok, it was a fairly solid restaurant, and a fitting introduction to Thai cuisine.
Update: On November 12, 2008, Philippe Delmas e-mailed to say, “from the first of july 2009 we are moving to this new address : le lys restaurant nang linchi soi6 thung mahamek sathorn bangkok 10120 with the same concept the same team the same cuisine and chef and petanque court for more details the web site www.lelys.info thank you. best regards”
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