Naj Exquisite Thai Cuisine – Luxury Thai Dining in Bangkok

By Mark Wiens 10 Comments
Naj Exquisite Thai Cuisine
Naj Exquisite Thai Cuisine in Bangkok, Thailand

I first met Chef Kan, the chef and owner of The Local in Bangkok, along with Dwight Turner, years ago, and both of us loved the strong flavors of the food and the traditional, southern influenced Thai dishes on the menu.

Naj Exquisite Thai Cuisine is the original restaurant of The Local. Chef Kan’s mother started the restaurant years before The Local ever existed.

amazing Thai food
They pay extreme attention to detail and presentation

Understanding the cuisine of Naj

Naj specializes in serving exquisite Thai cuisine, which, after eating there, to me translates to something between traditional and uniquely creative Thai dishes, many of which use time-tested recipes, prepared with high quality ingredients.

Along with some unique recipes that Kan’s mother has developed over years of Thai traditional culinary experience, many of the recipes she serves at Naj are authentic Royal Thai dishes.

Naj Bangkok
Some of the decoration inside Naj

Chef Kan and his mother invited Ying and myself to Naj one day, and since I had never been there, and since The Local is one of my favorite nicer-end restaurants in Bangkok, I was excited to go.

Chef Kan, along with his mother, have been developing a series of new recipes for their menu at Naj, and he was extremely excited to prepare a few dishes that he’s getting ready to add to their menu, for us to try.

The restaurant is housed in a one hundred year old wooden home, right in the heart of Silom. While sky rise buildings surround it, Naj still remains traditional, both inside and out.

Part of the beauty of eating at Naj is just admiring the old house and atmosphere of the restaurant. They even have a wine cellar in the basement – you’ve got to check it out if you eat there.

Ok, let’s move into the delicious food…

กะปิคั่ว
Kapi khua (กะปิคั่ว)

Kapi khua (กะปิคั่ว)

We started with a dish called kapi khua (กะปิคั่ว).

You might know about nam prik kapi (นำ้พริกกะปิ), which is one of the most popular forms of Thai chili sauce, made with fermented shrimp paste, lime juice, and lots of garlic and chilies.

Kapi khua (กะปิคั่ว) is a little different – the shrimp paste was dry roasted, then thickened with coconut cream, and just like any nam prik, it was served with a selection of vegetables.

Price – 220 THB

high end restaurants in Bangkok
The kapi khua (กะปิคั่ว) was so creamy and rich

The kapi khua (กะปิคั่ว) was incredible, rich and smoky flavored, and though Chef Kan told me there were no peanuts in the recipe, it had a nutty flavor to me.

The consistency was almost like peanut butter, sticky and thick, and extremely rich and marvelous.

Royal Thai cuisine
All the vegetables were carved to perfection

Along with the kapi khua (กะปิคั่ว), the selection of raw vegetables served were incredibly well carved and detailed.

I know first hand how tedious and how much skill is required to carve fruits and vegetables like that (mine didn’t turn out so well). It’s a beautiful Thai tradition.

ปลาช่อนยัดไส้อั่ว
Snakehead fish stuffed with sai ua sausage

 

Pla chon yad sai ua (ปลาช่อนยัดไส้อั่ว)

With a smile on his face, Chef Kan emerged from the kitchen with a huge platter, filled with a dish himself and his mother named, pla chon yad sai ua (ปลาช่อนยัดไส้อั่ว).

A pla chon is a snakehead fish, common in Thai cuisine, and sai ua is the famous northern Thai spiced sausage.

But this could be the first time the two have ever been combined.

The pla chon was hollowed out, and the meat of the fish was mixed with ground sai ua sausage, then refilled back into the skin and body of the snakehead fish, and baked until crisp.

It was a genius idea of a dish and the flavor was equally genius.

Normal pork sai ua is quite awesome, although it can be a little heavy and greasy.

What I really loved about the pla chon yad sai ua (ปลาช่อนยัดไส้อั่ว), was not only how cool it looked, but also that it had the same glorious flavor of any sai ua – the lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and chilies – but it was much more lean, and smooth from the flesh of the fish.

มัสมั่นลิ้นวัว
Massaman curry with ox tongue (มัสมั่นลิ้นวัว)

Massaman leen wooah (มัสมั่นลิ้นวัว)

Massaman is one of the more well known Thai dishes outside of Thailand, although I’m usually not a huge fan of ordinary massaman curries – normally because it’s usually sweet and not spice heavy enough for me.

At Naj Exquisite Thai Cuisine, we had massaman leen wooah (มัสมั่นลิ้นวัว), Thai massaman curry made with ox tongue, which had been stewed for hours until fall apart tender.

Price – 450 THB

fancy restaurants in Bangkok
Some of the finest massaman curry I’ve ever had

The tongue was indeed unbelievably tender, and the flavor of the massaman curry sauce was very complex, not too sweet, and had a wonderful nutty flavor, as well as hints of cumin and Siamese cardamom.

I also really loved the zest of som sa (ส้มซ่า), which is similar to a bitter orange, sprinkled on top – a Thai citrus that was commonly used in Royal Thai cuisine, but rarely found in Thai cooking anymore.

This massaman was marvelous.

Royal Thai food
Khao kluk pad nam prik pla duk yang nai hua pli (ข้าวคลุกผัดน้ำพริกปลาดุกย่างในหัวปลี) – say that in one breath!

Khao kluk pad nam prik pla duk yang nai hua pli (ข้าวคลุกผัดน้ำพริกปลาดุกย่างในหัวปลี)

The khao kluk pad nam prik pla duk yang nai hua pli (ข้าวคลุกผัดน้ำพริกปลาดุกย่างในหัวปลี) was a little different from the normal street food style Thai fried rice.

It was a dish of Thai jasmine rice, fried with separately fried deboned catfish, which was then filled into a banana flower, sealed, and roasted until blackened over a hot fire.

For this Royal Thai dish, the banana flower wasn’t actually for eating, but it was rather used to keep the rice moist, and give it a unique earthy aroma.

Price – 250 THB

Thai fried rice
Catfish fried rice, roasted in a banana leaf

The rice was nice and fluffy and it indeed took on a wonderful fresh fragrance. The rice was served with thin slices of starfruit, chilies and cucumbers to give it an extra fresh touch.

Lobster in Bangkok
Lobster served with sweet sauce and herbs (ล๊อปเสตอร์ย่างน้ำปลาหวานแบบใต้)

Lobster yang nam pla wan baeb dai (ล๊อปเสตอร์ย่างน้ำปลาหวานแบบใต้)

I honestly thought we were done eating, Ying and I were wiping our lips with our napkins…

…and that’s when Chef Kan came out of the kitchen one more time, this time with the biggest smile I had seen on his face yet.

And soon, I think I had the biggest smile on my face I’ve had for a very long time as well…. lobster does that to me.

neem tree
sadao (สะเดา) – bitter buds from the neem tree

There’s a fairly common Thai dish called pla duk yang sadao nam pla wan (ปลาดุกย่างสะเดาน้ำปลาหวาน), a roasted catfish served with sweet sauce and sadao (สะเดา), the bitter buds of the neem tree.

The salty catfish is eaten with bites of the bitter buds and the sweet sauce, to create a contrast of flavors in the mouth.

grilled lobster
Grilled lobster prepared southern Thai style

The inspiration for this dish came from the grilled catfish, but instead of a catfish, chef used a lobster.

The lobster was a bit smaller, yet better quality than the one I ate in Hua Hin, and I can say I was like a little kid ready to dig in.

Amazing Thai food
Is there anything better than a lobster claw!?

The lobster was roasted to perfection, moist and juicy, the sauce was slightly sweet, creamy, and lightly salted with a hint of shrimp paste… it was like shrimp whipped cream, but not too sweet.

A bite of the fleshy sweet lobster, the sauce, and some of the countering bitter herbs, was spectacular – I could hardly have been more happy.

It was quite an honor to be invited to Naj Exquisite Thai Cuisine restaurant to sample a few of Royal and traditionally inspired dishes, and the meal we had was fantastic.

Naj Exquisite Thai cuisine
Naj Exquisite Thai Cuisine – housed inside a beautifully preserved wooden house

Conclusion

Naj Exquisite Thai Cuisine is a fine dining Thai restaurant in Bangkok that serves a selection of authentic Royal Thai dishes, as well as unique dishes that the owner has developed.

I thought the food was delicious, with great quality ingredients, and I was also impressed with the traditional recipes, methods of cooking, and the gorgeous food presentation – a practice associated with Royal Thai cuisine.

Naj is a wonderful restaurant in Bangkok for a high-end Thai dining experience, with a menu of traditional and Royal inspired Thai dishes.

Naj Exquisite Thai Cuisine

Address: 42 Convent Road, Silom, Bangkok, Thailand 10500
Phone: (662) 632-2811-3, (662) 632-1004-6
Open hours: Lunch from 11:30 am – 2:30 pm and Dinner from 5:30 pm – 11:30 pm daily
Prices: About 500 – 1,000 THB per person
Websitehttp://www.najcuisine.com/webnaj/home.html

How to get there: Naj Exquisite Thai Cuisine is located in the Silom are of Bangkok, directly across the street from BNH Hospital. It’s about a 5 minute walk from Sala Daeng BTS station, just down Convent Road, and on the right hand side of the road.

Disclaimer: I’ve been a friend of the owner of Naj Exquisite Thai Cuisine restaurant for many years now, so I didn’t pay for this meal, but I wasn’t paid to write this post either. Chef Kan has been a friend of mine for years, and I’m huge fan of his cooking and restaurants.



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  • Wil

    2 years ago

    Hi mark, I am wondering how much does Lobster yang nam pla wan baeb dai cost?

    • Mark Wiens

      2 years ago

      Hey Will, I’m actually not sure, I will try to find out. I’m friends with the chef, and I tried it before it was on the official menu. I will try to inquire. Thanks!

  • davinka

    3 years ago

    Hi Mark,I’m reading this on a slow monday night at our thai street food restaurent TOM YUM in Colombo Sri Lanka and my Thai best half is intrigued by banana flower rice,Shall try in May.

    • Mark Wiens

      3 years ago

      Hey Davinka, great to hear from you, glad you have a Thai restaurant in Colombo. Let me know how it goes!

  • Paniti

    3 years ago

    Wow. You made me interested in trying Naj. I’ve never thought of going there since I’m thai. But recently with the boom in Upscale Thai restaurants and with my friend at Soulfood, I’ve developed a amenity of them. Until recently I have been so turned down by OSHA on Wireless Rd. Never go there!

    • Mark Wiens

      3 years ago

      Hi Paniti, thank you for reading. I really like Naj because many of the recipes are Royal dishes that are challenging to find elsewhere. Hope you enjoy it if you go.

  • Steve Kyne

    3 years ago

    Oh wow…. the pla chon yad sai ua looked amazing. What a visual treat – and what a meal. This restaurant is definitely going on the bucket list.

    • Mark Wiens

      3 years ago

      Thank you Steve for reading, that’s a creative and delicious dish for sure!

  • Rocky

    3 years ago

    Naj has very beautiful presentation, and I’m sure the food is tasty.

    But is it *that* much better than low-cost, popular restaurants or street food at “walking street”?

    So far, the more expensive restaurants here in Thailand have left me with an “empty” feeling because the food isn’t that good and is way overpriced.

    My rule of thumb: the more crowded and cheaper, the better.

    For example, I got 5 pieces of sushi, som tom salad, some fried fish, sugar cane crepe made with black rice and a bottle of water last night on Walking Street. Total cost: 120 baht ($4 USD).

    In America, high end restaurants give incredible food for reasonable prices, if you get the fixed price tasting menu.

    For example, the next time you’re in Santa Fe, go to the 5 star Geronimo restaurant for dinner and sit at the bar and order the vegetarian tasting menu for $45.

    It blew my mind how good it was.

    Another example is wd50 in Manhattan, which offers a 12 course tasting menu for $155, that I can 100% assure you, is available nowhere in Thailand, for any price.

    • Mark Wiens

      3 years ago

      Hi Rocky, great to hear from you, thank you for the thoughts and the restaurant recommendations – that vegetarian meal in Santa Fe sounds good.

      I typically share in your opinion, as I personally usually eat street food or hole in the wall restaurants, but there are some places like Naj that specialize in true high quality dishes and ingredients, and in this case extremely hard to find Thai dishes. Some dishes at Naj like the catfish fried rice in the banana blossom are extremely rare, so I think it’s a great value here.

      Are you living in Thailand now?