Ponn Cafe Bangkok is one of the countless food and beverage outlets in Terminal 21, a large shopping mall in the Asoke section of Bangkok, Thailand. It serves an extensive menu of mouth-watering Thai dishes with regional Thai, Chinese, and Islamic influences. In addition, there is a large choice of fruit juices and fruit smoothies;
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The Back Story
I discovered Terminal 21 on my last trip to Thailand, which had been three years earlier. And while I suspected it was near my hotel, I wasn’t sure of its exact location.
So I went out in search of it because I knew it was full of places to eat. There was a large food court. In addition, there were numerous stand-alone restaurants and fast-food outlets. And they were scattered across several levels.
And you could shop till you drop to your way and from your meal!
Unfortunately, I was misled by Google Maps, which had led me in the wrong direction. I eventually found it, after about a hour walking up and down Sukhimvit Road, one of Bangkok’s key commercial arteries.
As it turned out, Terminal 21 was a less than a 10 minutes’ walk from my hotel. But I only discovered that the next day, when I spied it from a pedestrian overpass, which – in fact – had direct access to the mall.
As the Chinese sign over the window suggests, Ponn Café serves many different flavours. At least that is how Google Translate translates it.
But I think that maybe “cooking styles” would be a better translation. Because the dishes on the menu seem to have been inspired by various influences, which include regional Thai cuisine, Chinese cuisine, and Islamic cuisine.
I discovered this restaurant while looking for a place a eat at Terminal 21. And I posted some photos on Facebook. The manager of the hotel I was staying at – Jono Bangkok Asoke Hotel – saw the pix and complimented me on my choice of eateries.
“This is a very good restaurant,” he told me. “How did you find it?”
Ponn Café has a diverse menu running from appetizers, salads, and what it calls “dressed salads” to namprik and main dishes. In addition to entrees, main dishes include rice plates, noodles, and vegetarian delicacies.
BTW, if you don’t know what namprik is, it usually comprises several raw vegetables (such as cabbage and string beans), which are served with a bowl of liquidy dip. While it is very popular with Thais. I’m not a big fan. So I didn’t pay much attention to this part of the menu.
Just a clarification. If you DO like namprik, you will find many choices at this popular eatery!
Based on a recipe from the Royal Traditional Thai Crafts School, this mouthwatering red curry is made using Panaeng curry paste, coconut milk, and other ingredients. And it comes in a choice of chicken or pork (155 baht) and beef (165 baht).
BTW, paneang is a type of red curry paste that is thick, salty, and sweet. In addition, it has a hint of lime. Should I add tangy to the equation?
Whatever! The bottom line is, this dish was absolutely delicious. It went very well with white rice, which I ordered separately. And it is for this reason that I decided to revisit the restaurant upon my return to Bangkok several weeks later.
On my second visit to Ponn Café, I ordered the Chicken with Cashew Nuts and Gingko (175 baht). In addition to the stir-fried chicken, cashew nuts, and gingko listed on the menu, there were carrots, black mushrooms, baby corns, and onions. Have I missed anything?
OMG! This dish was light, fresh, and packed with subtle flavours. I absolutely loved it!
BTW, gingkos are a nut like kernel from the gingko tree, which is native to China. And they are occasionally used in Chinese, Japanese, and Thai cookery. They had a delightful soft texture and absorbed the other flavours in the recipe.
On my third visit to Ponn Café, I ordered the Black Soya Sauce Fried Rice with Pork (165 baht).
The rice was fried with a dark soy sauce. It was reminiscent of the fried rice served at Chinese restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area when was growing up in the 1950s and 60s.
In fact, I was surprised when I made my first trip to Asia in 1970 and discovered that fried rice was often white rather than brown. Apparently, it was seasoned with salt rather than soy sauce. So this was like a Walk Down Memory Lane!
In addition to rice, there were two kinds of pork: crispy pork and sweet grilled pork. Other ingredients included Chinese sausage, kale, and tomato.
Okay, I have to be honest. I was put off by the crispy pork. Not only was very salty. In addition, it was so tough I couldn’t bite through it. So I left it on the plate.
Overall, I enjoyed this dish. But I doubt I would order it again. There were lots of other fried rice options on the menu. And I would like to try another one – as long as it doesn’t have crispy pork!
On my first afternoon dining at Ponn Café, I paired a delicious coconut smoothie (115 baht) with the red curry with chicken. It was both creamy and refreshing!
On my second visit to Ponn Café, I washed down the chicken with cashew nuts and gingko with a virgin mojito ( 95 baht). Loved that dash of brown sugar!
On my third visit to Ponn Café, I paired my Black Soyo Sauce with Pork with a very refreshing glass of orange juice. Unlike the way orange juice is served in the west, this version was served over crushed ice. And it had a slightly creamy quality! Or was it just my imagination?
Ponn Cafe is an informal eatery with a spacious, well lit interior with booths and tables. The atmosphere is laid back and friendly. It seems to be very popular with locals.
There were so many eating options at Terminal 21, I was spoiled for choice. But I had had a couple of disappointments at the food court.
Plus: I don’t like the way food courts in Bangkok make you pay in advance and then refund your leftover cash after you finish eating. So I decided to try one the numerous restaurants at the massive shopping centre.
I had no particular reason for choosing Ponn Cafe. To clarify, I chose it pretty much at random., trusting my “blogger’s intuition”.
Since the manager of the hotel I was staying told me later it was a very good restaurant, I decided to try more of their dishes and share my experiences with you.
I give Ponn Cafe an enthusiastic one thumbs up!
Ponn Cafe – Terminal 21, 88 Sukhimvit Road, Soi 19, Bangkok, Thailand.
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