In 1962, Wu Chun Pei, a chef from Guangzhou, opened Sanyod Pochana, doing what he knows best – Cantonese cuisine. Always by his side was his then-teenage son, Namchai Benjarungroj. Fast forward 50 years, and with the second-generation at the helm, the restaurant has expanded with six additional branches, plus a seventh in the works.
The restaurant’s flagship restaurant in Soi Charatwiang Road near BTS skytrain Saphan Taksin station is small, seating only 20 upstairs and another handful along the counter on the ground floor.
The action is here in this unassuming shophouse, which houses the main kitchen which serves up to an additional 100 diners in the main restaurant space across the alley, often families and groups of friends gathering for mouth-watering food.
For over five decades, Benjarungroj has been continuing his family’s culinary legacy, delighting diners with the same recipes passed down from his father. Compared to other cuisine, the flavours in Cantonese cuisine are subtle to allow the quality of the dish’s ingredients to shine through. This attention to detail in creating a well-balanced dish is the same philosophy of “Lamiat” used by Chang to look beyond the ordinary in the pursuit of perfection.
“I wouldn’t know what to do if I didn’t work here,” says Benjarungroj, now in his late 60s, whose two children have also returned to help with the family business. “This restaurant has always been my life.”
Judging by the stream of regulars who offer their greetings and the impressive piles of takeaway boxes bound for appreciative mouths, Sanyod (Sathon-Bang Rak) has become a part of many people’s lives.
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The signature dish Sanyod (Sathon-Bang Rak) is most known for is its roast duck, cooked on a charcoal grill with a recipe that has remained unchanged since Mr. Wu senior. It’s got such a following that the restaurant sells about 80 whole ducks on a normal week, and up to 150 on weekends. This is a menu item that always tastes better when enjoyed with friends.
Medium-sized ducks are chosen to avoid thick skin and the subsequent layer of fat. Fermented soybeans and a mixture of other seasoning are stuffed into the duck’s cavity and grilled over charcoal for 30 minutes.
The complex, gamey taste of the duck washes down beautifully with refreshing sips of full flavoured brew. To make it into a meal, you can also order the duck alongside egg noodles with optional toppings of crabmeat, shrimp or pork wontons.
Braised beef spicy salad
While Cantonese food is not traditionally spicy, the restaurant offers a selection of spicy Thai-style salads that dial up the heat to balance out a cold drink. Generous chunks of beef and tendon are braised for three hours – once the meat is tender and the tendon melt-in-your-mouth soft, they are tossed together with fish sauce, lime juice, shallots, and other herbs and seasoning that make this dish a perfect accompaniment to share over a good chat with a group of friends.
Deep-fried shrimp balls topped with mustard greens
The subtle hoppy aroma of a quality brew brings out the understated flavours of the shrimp and balances the bitter notes of the mustard greens. There’s no flour or other fillers in these shrimp balls, just fresh minced seafood and seasoning, deep-fried into sizeable balls before being stir-fried with mustard greens. These are incredibly moreish and easy to lose count of when engrossed in a chat with your buddies.
Stir-fried century eggs with basil leaves and green peppers
Century eggs, or thousand-year-old eggs, are an acquired taste. For those who have a preference for this blue cheese of eggs, its jelly-like texture of the egg white and pungent creaminess of the yolk is pretty hard to replace. Combine it with everything that is great with krapao (Thai stir-fried basil) – the saltiness, spiciness, garlicky, subtly sweet flavours, plus the crunchy texture of the deep-fried basil leaves – and you have a dish that’s pretty close to culinary perfection.
Stir-fried fish with bitter melon and salted black bean
The hoppy flavour of an ice-cold lager complements the light flavour elements of fish (usually dory, but you can request grouper) and balances out the bitterness of the bitter melon. The fermented salted black beans impart a unique Chinese taste, adding another layer of goodness to the dish.
Sharing is caring, but when it comes to food, we all know that when enjoyed with good friends, a meal can be made that much more special.
To make a reservation at Sanyod (Sathon-Bang Rak)’s original Sathorn-Bangrak branch, call +66 (0) 2 234 7968.
This article is brought to you by Chang.
To learn more about Chang’s spirit of lamiat, a philosophy underpinned by a deep and authentic appreciation in the small details that produce perfection, visit www.changbeer.com/lamiat.