In recent decades, The title of one of the most popular “Backpacker Ghettos” should be definitely given to Khaosan road. Khaosan road offers cheap accommodation, ranging from low-cost guesthouses to mid-range hotels. Myriads of extremely diverse travelers from all over the world are resting here with internet cafes, swanky bars and clubs, restaurants, massage parlours, travel agents, tattoo shops and much, much more.
Perhaps for an inexperienced travelers, there is a dilemma: Where is a good place to eat? We are going to compare 2 of famous restaurants around Khaosan road. Both of them are operated in shophouses in the same building and adjacent to each other. Furthermore, both of them sell cultural food but from opposite hemispheres. One is Shoshana who serve Jewish cuisine from Israel and another one is Kansai Fu(ll) who serve Japanese cuisine from Japan. So travelers who visit Khaosan road might want to consider some differences for a special meal.
Shoshana offers excellent Israeli cuisines. From word of mouth, Shoshana’s dishes are probably the best Israeli food in Bangkok and a lot of the Israeli tourists said that the food is just like back at home. Shoshana opened as a guesthouse in 1982 when Khaosan Road had become more popular as a tourist destination. Then it started making Israeli food for their guests. After a while, a group of Israeli customers helped name the restaurant “Shoshana”, which means “a rose”.
The chef cooks outside by the front door so you can visually see the fresh foods being prepared. The restaurant is decorated in homely style. Shoshana’s Atmosphere is just like common restaurants with air conditioner. The small dinning room was a bit crowded. However, we felt comfortable with this kind of decoration style and the efficiency of the staff.
Hummus and Pita
Hummus[90B] is an ancient Egyptian food made with cooked-mashed chickpeas or other beans blended with olive oil. Pita[15B] is slightly leavened Arabic flat-bread. To eat hummus and pita, we tear a small piece of pita and dip it in the hummus. The taste is a bit oily and creamy. It melted in my mouth when its silky texture touched my tongue. This food is great to eat either with or without any side dishes.
The first time I saw falafel[180B], I thought it was a meatball. But in fact, falafel is not made with meat at all. It is made with chickpeas or fava beans or a combination of the two combined with other spicy herbal ingredients. All of these are good for people who care about their health. falafel is crunchy on the outside and smell of herbs including cumin and coriander. If you like to eat vegetables and are looking for something new, falafel is a good choice for you.
Shashuka[140B] is poached tomato with eggs on top. Perhaps this sounds like a banal food but its taste really isn’t. Although tomatoes are a typical food from around the globe, The shashuka has such a unique taste. Thanks to the mysterious middle-eastern culture for shaping this way of cooking. My shashuka had a sweet-scented fragrance from poached tomatoes and was served in just perfect temperature. I felt pleasure every time I swallowed.
After the meal, we interviewed the restaurant owner, Mrs Sumol Chaisoy. She said that she is the main chef and she has to prepare the food and its recipes for a genuine taste. For example, for the hummus, she has to boil the chickpeas for several days. She let us try “eggplant salad” which is one of her proud dishes. It made us feel breezy with the fresh eggplant.
Kansai Fu(ll) offers distinctive Japanese cuisines in reasonable prices. This small restaurant has been established for 6 years by gourmet who addicted to Japanese food. The name of restaurant was named with Kansai region which is the cultural and historical heart of Japan while the word ‘fu(ll)’ means cool or stylishness, so the main concept of the restaurant is to represent innovative japanese cuisines based on Japanese cookery culture.
Kansai Fu(ll)’s Atmosphere
Sometimes small restaurants turn out to be surprisingly pleasant places in which to dine. Kansai Fu(ll) is one of them. The restaurant is decorated in modern Japanese style and it provides multiple styles of tables: Japanese-like, outdoor and couple of lovers. Japanese-like tables are look like traditional Japanese tables which people sit on the floor although these roomy seats are lifted up and covered with tatami mats so customers can enjoy sitting in any posture they want. Pictures on the wall and yellow light create relaxing and cozy atmosphere. The owner was standing hospitality and was carefully receiving orders while the chef was showing his professional cooking skills in the kitchen which was inside the dinning room.
Bacon oyster[185B] is one of iconic dishes of Kansai Fu(ll). A fresh oyster from Hiroshima wrapped with aromatic fried bacon on each of five pieces is served with a crescent of lemon, salad and cold mashed potato. If you eat it, squashy oyster will splash of its intensive taste in your mouth as well as smokiness smell of bacon.Bacon oyster is the perfect combination of land and sea,fresh and fried,hot and cold.
Sushi mariawase[365B] contains 10 pieces of bite size sushi. The raw materials are good quality sushi-grade fishes. This dish is optimized not just the taste but also the appearance. It delivers art through integration of colors on a wooden platform. If you look closely on a piece, you will see skillful decorative cutting on the fish and the rice is loosely squeezed which allow it quickly split up and mix in the mount by just the right balance of tangy and savory flavors while eaten with soysource.
Kansai-style Okonomiyaki[165B] is widely known as Japanese pizza. Its pizzaness comes from various versions of ingredients. Just like the pizza that you can have whatever you want on(or in) it. Kansai Fu(ll) provides endless possibilities start with 7 types of invented okonomiyaki plus a long list of recipes that let you custom yours. I recommended shredded cabbage and bacon topping with Katsuobushi (dried, fermented, and smoked skipjack tuna). This selection is popular among regular customers.
Shoshana and Kansai Fu(ll) differ in a number of ways. The first of them is decoration style. While Shoshana has nothing special with dinning tables covered by plastic tablemat as if it was a table at your home, Kansai Fu(ll) furnished its place with wooden traditional-like tables and tatami mats to create Japanese feeling and look more stylish after all. Shoshana places the kitchen in front of the restaurant so customers can see the chef cooking only when they walk into the dinning room. Unlike Shoshana, Kansai Fu(ll) places its kitchen inside the dinning room so customers can enjoy watching the chef on every movements. Besides, Chef’s performance is an important element in Japanese cookery culture, for example , the skillful cutting , the steps of making sushi and so on.
For the food, Shoshana serves Jewish food which is rare in Thailand; hence this could be a good place to find new experience for one who has never eaten Israeli food, whereas Kansai Fu(ll) offers Japanese food which already well-known around the world. In general , Israeli food usually are well-cooked and seasoned with a lot of spicy and herb. Most food are served in creamy form and ready to eat with pita bread, for instance , hummus , shashuka and eggplant salad. In contrast, half of Japanese dishes are made with raw and fresh fishes. They get rid of fishy smell by using wasabi and apply clever techniques to bring out the excellent natural taste of each raw materials. While Shoshana focuses on its customers from middle-east by serving authentic taste, Kansai Fu(ll) develops Japanese food on its own way as Japanese food are always evolved by the time, At this point, Kansai Fu(ll)’s dishes are not only put in suitable size dish but also always be decorated for beautiful appearance.
The last few things we have to compare are about prices and portion sizes. If you compare them dish-by-dish, you will see they are not quite different. But if you consider their portion sizes, Shoshana will be cheaper because the food is served in big portion. One can full by only 1 dish from Shoshana. On the other hand, Kansai Fu(ll)’s dishes are quite small and you will have to order 2-3 dishes for a meal. However, the raw materials of Kansai Fu(ll) are sushi-grade fishes which are normally expensive and Kansai Fu(ll)’s prices are still very cheap compare to other Japanese restaurant in the same quality.
Shoshana and Kansai Fu(ll) are located in a small alley opposite Wat Chana Songkram. It’s not far from Khaosan Road. You can go north-west along the Khaosan Road to Chakrabongse Road , Then make a right and straight ahead to the alley.