Over the last 20 years I’ve sampled a lot of different beers in Germany, particularly in Franconia, so I welcomed the opportunity to sample some German style beers at the Tawandang restaurant during a recent visit to Bangkok.
There are two Tawandang restaurants in the Bangkok; Rama 3 opened in 1999 and Ram Indra followed suit in 2005. There is also a Tawandang restaurant now in Singapore at which I suspect the prices are considerably higher than they are in Bangkok! I’ve only been to the Rama 3 restaurant and on my first visit, in 2008, it was necessary to take a taxi as the location is a few miles south of the centre.
It is now much easier, and cheaper, to get to the restaurant as Rama 3 – a major road – is the 4th stop on the BRT tram line departing from Chong Nonsi sky train station which is on the Silom line. A single ticket costs the equivalent of @ 20 pence. You simply can’t miss the restaurant as it is right in front of you when you exit the tram. If you have been visiting the major tourist sites such as the Grand Place and Wat Arun, then consider boarding one of the frequent river boats from Tha Tien to Tha Sathon and then taking the Sky Train the two stops from Saphan Taksin to Chong Nonsi.
As can be seen from the first two photographs this is a seriously big venue. If you arrive, as I did, at the opening time of 17.00 then the staff will greatly outnumber the customers but it certainly gets busy later in the evening.
There is an extensive menu, with reasonable prices, that is in English as well as Thai. As of the date of my writing this article the Tawandang is ranked 12th out of 1,424 restaurants in Bangkok on Trip Adviser, no mean feat given the high quality of dining in the capital. Service is friendly and efficient and there is a range of t-shirts and other beer related paraphernalia on sale should you wish to purchase a souvenir of your visit.
So it’s an easy place to get to with good food and service but how do the beers compare to the usual fare in Thailand, reasonably widely available in the UK, of Singha, Chang, Leo and the various other regional offerings?
The first, and in my opinion the best, beer I tried was the lager. It has a 5.0 ABV and is said to be fermented for 25 days. As the photo shows the beer is fairly hazy with a good head and the nose is hoppy with a quite pronounced flavour of pear drops. It’s served at a reasonable temperature, unlike most draught beers in South East Asia, so that you can appreciate the hoppiness and the zesty character of the beer. A further positive is that, again in contrast to the various “macro” beers, there is a pleasant and lingering aftertaste. All in all, not a beer that you would necessarily expect to be served if you ordered a lager / helles in Germany but one that I would certainly be happy to drink in a beer garden in West Middlesex.
The weizen beer, served in an appropriate glass, is a little stronger at 5.5% ABV and is fermented for 19 days. It has a decidedly fruity nose and a soft mouth feel with, again, a pronounced but not overpowering taste of pear drops and other, perhaps tropical, fruits but certainly not the bubblegum, banana and cloves which are associated with some German weizens. Not a beer that I would want to spend an entire evening drinking but a good beer nevertheless.
The dunkel beer, weighing in at 4.5% ABV and fermented for 28 days, was my least favourite of the three beers on offer although I’ve had a lot worse dark beers on my travels in Asia. The nose is sweet and malty but the beer has a thin taste and body, although not the metallic taste of some dark beers in Cambodia.
In conclusion, and to quote Meatloaf, “two out of three ain’t bad” and I would thoroughly recommend a trip to the tawandang restaurants should you find yourself in Bangkok.
For more information see www.tawandang.com
John Bush - August 2012