*InSuk = Inner Sukhumvit, roughly the area of Sukhumvit Road from the First Stage Expressway through Soi Asoke (Sukhumvit 21). I’d like to propose a naming convention for different areas of the city, relative to Sukhumvit. Let me know what you think:
- InSuk – Inner Sukhumvit (Sois 1-21)
- MidSuk – Middle Sukhumvit (Sois 21-63)
- OutSuk – Outter Sukhumvit (Sois 63 and above)
- NoSuk – Northern Sukhumvit – from Sukhumvit to Phetchaburi
- SoSuk – Southern Sukhumvit – From Sukhumvit south to Rama 4
Anyhow, one of the things missing here in Khrungthep is “Mexican” food. I use the quotes because I know that the food I’m referring to isn’t authentically Mexican but is probably more accurately described as San Francisco Mission District Taqueria food. There are a few places here that serve the Mexican style food, but they are either not very good at all or are way too expensive.
Recently, I received an email from Greg Lange, managing partner of Sunbelt Asia law offices, announcing the opening of his pet project: Sunrise Tacos. Open 24 hours a day – “from sunrise to sunrise” – Greg is looking to fill what he sees as an empty niche in the Khrungthep dining scene.
Featuring freshly-made ingredients (“no cans!”) and no preservatives or artificial anythings, Greg explained to me that he is looking to provide that California taqueria-style food, especially to the tourist and expat crowd that frequently converges late nights in the nearby Nana entertainment district. As many will attest, nothing absorbs excess alcohol so well as carbohydrates in the form of a burrito.
In the past two weeks, I’ve made two trips to Sunrise Tacos. Nestled next to Sunbelt Asia’s Expat Service Center in a small strip mall between Sukhumvit Sois 10 and 12, half the space is filled with a counter seating six and the other half is the assembly area for made-to-order tacos and burritos. The order-taking procedure continues to be refined. On the second visit they had introduced order forms where you mark what items (lettuce, onions, guacamole) you want. For dine-in orders, you don’t pay until you’re finished and with the clunky ordering process and system of “add-on” pricing where you pay extra for various added ingredients, this leads to some discrepancies in charging. It would be easier if you just pay as soon as your food is prepared.
Those are procedural issues, which will get sorted out in due time. The real question is the food. Starting from the counter up, I was excited to learn that Sunrise makes its own tortillas. However, on both visits these tortillas have been tough and crumbly and when they become chips, the chips are too thick and, again, tough. I’m not sure whose mother’s recipe is being used, but we had best get her into the kitchen to demonstrate how it is really done.
While the tortillas are less than perfect, the fillings are redeeming. The quality of the meats is very high. The carne asada and barbacoa beef are flavorful and tender. The chicken is also nice, chopped into moist and tasty pieces. The carnitas, perhaps the best measure of any taqueria, was a bit under-seasoned, something that some tweaking with the recipe can resolve. A roasted vegetable offering was fine for vegetarians but a bit unimaginative consisting mostly of too-large strips of bell peppers. The addition of roast pumpkin, squash, or zuchini would make this option much more attractive and tasty.
Vegetable fillings were the usual suspects: black or red beans, Spanish rice, and cold fillings of shredded iceberg lettuce, onions, pickled jalapeno peppers, tomatos and for an extra fee, fresh guacamole made from imported Australian avocados. The black beans and rice are not stand-outs on their own, some sofrito would greatly pump up the beans’ flavor, but as an addition to the burritos they are fine.
Salsas can make or break a good burrito or taco. Sunrise Tacos offers four types of salsa, all made fresh throughout the day. Their Munchy Mango Salsa is the standout, especially right now during the height of mango season. In a few months, it may not be quite as spectacular. John’s Red Hot Salsa is advertised as being so hot, it can dodge bullets. In trying it, I’d be hard pressed to describe the heat as anything but mild. We’re in Thailand; you can’t claim that something is hot (spicy or, as Ajarn Yai always says it “speee-cy”) unless it really is really hot. The flavor is fine, mind you, very fresh. Just not hot.
Sunrise rounds out its menu with a selection of fresh margaritas, from various in-season fruits. Mango is on the menu right now. While tasty, at 399 baht a pitcher it makes lunch quite expensive. They also offer less-expensive virgin margaritas but in the confusion of ordering yesterday, Pune and I wound up with a pitcher of decidedly non-virgin mango margaritas and hopefully she was able to get some work done after lunch.
All in all, Sunrise Tacos makes a nice addition to the Khrungthep dining scene, adding some variety and providing good quality in the process. Greg says they are planning on adding fish tacos in the next few months, which will be very welcome as I miss Rubio’s tacos pescados from San Diego. The current menu has some room for improvement in terms of coaxing some more flavor from some ingredients and once the tortillas improve, there’s no doubt that Sunrise will become a weekly lunch destination for me.
There is competition, though: recently, another taqueria opened up on Silom complete with a logo blatantly ripped off from the Del Taco chain in the United States. I’ll have to go check that out soon for a comparison.