Ba Chao Jungle Food Restaurant is in the area of Lat Phrao, just north of downtown Bangkok.
The curries they serve here are incredibly spicy, and every single dish on the menu is full of only the most local ingredients and traditional jungle recipes.
Although you’re in Bangkok, you’ll feel like its a miniature trip into a Thai jungle, and Ba Chao serves what might be a Perfect Meal for any true lover of spicy chilies, and Thailand’s best local food.
Scroll down to get all the details.
From City to Jungle in Minutes
Just a few turns off of one of North Bangkok’s large streets, and you enter Ba Chao’s personal jungle – a peaceful haven of spicy delights and authentic jungle-style Thai food.
I easily count Ba Chao among the most delicious jungle food restaurants I have ever visited in Bangkok, and the most authentic as well.
Chickens are running freely out the door, there’s an abundance of untamed vines and hanging greenery, and I haven’t even got to the smells emanating from Ba Chao’s wonderful kitchen…
Its amazing the meal you are going to have here when you decide to visit Ba Chao.
The Legend – Loong Ba (“Loong” means ‘Uncle’)
Uncle Ba Chao calls Kanchanaburi province his home, but (thankfully) he has chosen to open this lovely restaurant a bit closer to the giant city of Bangkok.
He is locally famous for both his love of chilies, and his authentic jungle food cooking-style, and I have wanted to visit this restaurant for a long time.
I’m very pleased to report – my happy thoughts and food dreams weren’t disappointed in the least – and I hope this article doesn’t inspire you to make a poor decision like buying a plane ticket to Bangkok immediately, just to have this meal (or maybe I do, and we can eat here together!).
The list below is not a full account of everything we ordered, but only our favorite dishes. Please leave me a comment below on which dish you enjoyed the most (or which one you made sure to order ‘extra spicy’).
Have a great day, and happy munching!
Thai Chili Deer (Deer Curry)
(ผัดเผ็ดกวาง) or “Pad Ped Gwang”
There are few better dishes to start off a meal of Thai jungle-food than a chili-heavy plate of deer meat.
The first dish here is a no-brainer – you have to go with the Deer Curry.
You’ll immediately notice the pile of herbs resting atop a small mountain of red, fried and curried, dark brown meat. I love how this restaurant doesn’t use very much oil in the cooking, choosing instead to do things more traditionally using the animal’s own fat to help it cook.
Its Literally a Thai Flavor-Spice Explosion
The light brown-golden shreds are not ginger, but finger root (also called ‘Chinese Keys’), and the chili heat builds to passionate levels instantly with the huge amount of Thai green peppercorns.
A bright red-and-green combo (chilies, tree basil, and kaffir lime leaf) is a re-occurring scene, and one that’s always welcome among many dishes of Thailand’s ‘jungle food‘ cuisine.
What I love is how the flavor explosion of this gamey, incredibly spicy deer meat just builds my excitement to incredible heights, a high that’s usually lasting for the entire meal.
You definitely need to order at least one plate of Deer Curry during your visit to Ba Chao Ahaan Pa Restaurant.
River Fish with Chu-Chi Dip
(ปลาทอแกงฉู่ฉี่) or “Pla Tawd Gaeng Choo Chee”
The next dish appears at first to be somewhat of a standard, deep fried fish… but these river fish are of the perfect size so that deep frying allows you to eat the entire thing!
Crunching through head, bones, tail, and all, the first word that comes to mind is ‘Fun.’
An amazing side dish of Chu-Chi curry though comes as a dip – one that will not only blow you away, but if you’re anything like our group, you’ll be ordering a second plate of this dish as dessert.
Chu-Chi is a sweet, rich, deep-red colored curry, most commonly fried with tilapia, cooking together in the same pan (not separate, like they do it here at Ba Chao’s Ahaan Pa Restaurant). The Chu-chi curry recipe is also full of herbs like fresh Thai green peppercorns, and kaffir lime leaves, but is not quite as heavy on either garlic or chilies like most of the other dishes here..
At other restaurants, Chu Chi Pla might even be served in a bowl… but at Ba Chao Restaurant, you use the incredibly crunchy fish as a scoop, as a spoon-less dipper, to dig straight into your chu-chi curry!
Sweep up as much flavor as you can, and then crunch to your heart’s delight.
Ba Chao’s head chef has just pushed this recipe to extraordinary heights of flavor, and I think that this is one of the best things to order at Ba Chao Ahaan Pa Restaurant.
Free-Range Chicken, Deep Fried with Herbs
(ไก่บ้านทอดสมุนไพร) or “Gai Baan Tod Sa-moon Prai”
This is one of those dishes that you are going to want to have with either soup, sticky rice, or better yet, a cold beer.
The free-range chicken is fried with salt, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and roasted red hot chilies.
It will make you desperately thirsty, and satisfied in all the right ways.
The meat is even a bit sour as well as it being salty, and it is surprisingly juicy on the inside after being so crunchy on the outside. This dish is yet another stunning example of Pa Chao’s kitchen skills.
Get this dish in combination with either a ‘gaeng pa‘ jungle curry soup, or a ‘tom yam pla nam sai‘, a spicy fish soup with clear broth (and probably a cold beer or two to share with friends).
Thai Chili Bird
(ผัดเผ็ดนก) or “Pad Pet Noke”
Just from the look of this dish, it might not surprise you that this was the most spicy dish we had today (but just barely). They call it ‘bird’ – and it could be quail, or maybe pheasant – but I can guarantee you its not chicken.
Lately I have just been going a bit crazy over Thai jungle food, and I find myself actually needing, requiring, a severely spicy order of jungle-style fried meat (check out this one here).
Loong Pa’s Recipe
Loong Pa’s version of ‘pad pet nok‘ is just incredible. The bird is chopped finely enough that you can crunch right through the bones (after they’re fried), but not cooked so long that the pan takes away from the birds’ gamey texture.
Even through the mince-size pieces you can really tell that this bird was not raised in any farm. That amount of chilies too is just incredible – you’ll find it in perfect combination with shreds of finger root, kaffir lime leaf, and tree basil as well.
Jungle Curry (with Wild Pig)
(แกงป่า ((หมูป่า)) or “Gaeng Pa Moo Pa”
If there was ever a dish more perfectly suited to its name, please let me know.
Every feeling you might imagine when trying to turn a jungle into a food, is probably all right here in this bowl.
Jungle curry has long since amazed me with its unparalleled depths of flavor, from the mega-doses of spiciness, but also the glorious combination of healthful fresh ingredients.
This bowl is full of warmth from more than just the chili heat, and it has ginger, finger root, and galangal, both yellow nightshade eggplant (furry eggplant), thai eggplant, and pea eggplant (all of which add a nice hint of bitterness, while also somehow being sweet). After all that power-packing flavor comes the small red tomatoes, green beans, and even some slices of golden Thai pumpkin.
Finishing Your Wild Pork Belly
Last but not least, a few strips of wild pork belly, cut in a way so that each piece has a chewy chunk of meat attached to a smooth piece of fat.
The recipe here at Ba Chao might have had over 15 different ingredients besides all the parts which make up their red curry paste. Every one of them either grows in the forest, or in the chef’s own garden.
Its incredible. You have to eat this dish when you’re here.
Deep Fried Frog
(กบทอด) or “Gope Tawd”
A slightly less common ingredient, but a fairly simple dish, frog really can taste like… well, many other things.
The great thing about this dish though isn’t really the taste of the meat itself, but the texture.
The frog skin and meat itself fry until they are so incredibly crispy, its just a great addition to any selection of Thai jungle food that you have on the table.
Its not hard to imagine that this is another snack which would go pretty well with some tall bottles of cold beer.
The large amount of fried garlic thats added on top assures that this dish will have you happily crunching away (might you even prefer this dish over chicken whenever you finally find yourself back at home?).
Flash-Boiled Giant Catfish
(ปลาบึกลวกจิ้ม) or “Pla Berk Loo-ak Jim”
Another great fish to order at Ba Chao Ahaan Pa restaurant, this one is native to Thailand’s rivers. It is a giant catfish, full of tasty white, non-flaky meat.
‘Luak‘ (Say “Loo-ak”) is a flash-boiling cooking style used all over Thailand, and ‘luak jim‘ is an even faster flash-boil, just dipping briefly into the water’s rolling boil, just enough so that the fish is no longer pink, and not a second more.
The meat of this fish really holds together, well enough that you can grab huge pieces of it to confidently dip deep into the tartly sour sauce that comes with it.
Not Your ‘Average’ Catfish
Not like the smaller, more common type of catfish at all really, the only similarity I notice is that there aren’t any noticeable scales, but more like a skin. This is where a lot of the flavor is, as the fat-layer underneath the skin is thick and nicely rubbery.
The large strips of ginger without any chili, and the gentle flavors of lettuce, celery leaves, and cilantro under the steamed fish, make this one of the least spicy items on the menu.
Its a good way to balance a meal thats otherwise pretty much packing to the brimful of real jungle fire, and honestly, this dish is also just a wonderful example of the diversity of the amazing food of Thailand.
Deep Fried Redtail Catfish
(ปลาคังทอด) or “Pla Kang Tawd”
At Ba Chao Restaurant, they use only river fish, so none of the fish they are frying here are salt-water swimmers. Most fish like this will be less “fishy” smelling, and have a clean flavor thats great for frying or deep frying.
‘Pla kang’ is yet another type of Asian catfish, called a redtail catfish. These can grow to be over a meter long, so the fish are large enough to be cut sideways, and fried in cross-sections like in the photo above.
Ba Chao’s way is to deep fry them (to juicy perfection), and serve them with a sweet and spicy dipping sauce. If the sauce is a bit too sweet, then you may prefer the way I do it, which is to just have a chunk of this fried fish over rice, moistening the fish with a spoon of soup from the jungle curry instead.
Fish Tom Yam Sour Soup
(ต้มยำปลานำ้ใส) or “Tom Yam Pla Nam-Sai”
Tom Yam is another amazing dish from the long menu available at Ba Chao, one that guarantees to light up your tastebuds with both flavor and fire.
Despite the fact that the recipe already includes so many multi-colored chili peppers, the dish itself comes in a fire-pot with flames reaching 6 inches over your steaming Tom Yam sour soup broth.
Full of fish meat (we chose the redtail catfish (pla kang) for this one as well), herbs like galangal and lemon grass, and long strips of green onions, cilantro, and even some mouse-ear fungus.
This Tom Yam is spicy, but also delightfully sour, and I highly recommend at least one soup (Tom Yam here is great!) as a necessary part of any jungle feast at Ba Chao Ahaan Pa Restaurant.
Thai Chili Frog
(ผัดเผ็ดกบ) or “Pad Pet Gope”
Your final order off of the fried dish options just may have to be another plate of frog.
Similar to the bird earlier on, the bones are still present in the meat, and you can definitely tell in each bite.
The chef chops them finely enough though, that you can chew through them comfortably, and enjoy teeth-friendly bone crunching and munching all the while.
Frog May Surprise You…
Frog can be an impressively tasty meat if you give it the chance, and I think this dish is easily as flavorful as any ‘normal’ meat that I’ve ever had.
The chef skill comes out in a dish like this too – you can taste massive smokiness along with that now-recognizable but oh-so-loved combination of tree basil, kaffir lime leave, and finger root.
Fluffy Fried Omelette
(ไข่เจียวฟู) or “Kai Jee-ow Foo“
We had actually finished all the dishes in our order before we remembered the famous omelette – so we got one for dessert.
The crispiness of this omelette just had me in happy tears, and its crunchiness, while also being so oily and juicy, was nearly beyond belief.
Omelettes For Dessert
Omelettes are great with just about anything you can think to dump on them, or scoop up with them, but this omelette really is so good that you may not even have time to think of such things. Divide into pizza-size wedges, and cheers your friends on yet another jungle food feast success.
You have to order at least one ‘kai-jee-ow-foo’ for your table, even as a dessert, when you visit Ba Chao Ahaan Pa Restaurant.
Some Likely Decorations
Hanging buffalo skulls and forest trapping tools are common decorations for restaurants that serve ‘ahaan pa,’ or “jungle food,” but its also just as common to see posters of local bands, or things like old cooking utensils hung from the dining room ceiling as well.
The Man, The Legend Behind the Wok
Maybe it sounds incredible, but these actually were just my favorites, and this is not a list of all the foods today during our wonderful jungle food lunch feast at Ba Chao Ahaan Pa Restaurant.
Please do remember to leave me a comment below on which dish you enjoy the most when you visit Ba Chao, and thank you for your support of EatingThaiFood.
See you for the next article, and happy munching!
Name: Ba Chao Ahaan Pa Restaurant (ป๋าเชาว์อาหารป่า)
Location: (Google Maps)
Hours: 11AM-10PM Daily
Price: 65-100 Baht per dish