Monday, January 26, 2009

Bei Otto German Restaurant in Bangkok


Bei Otto German Restaurant in Bangkok, Thailand-Photo-02

Bei Otto German Restaurant in Bangkok, Thailand-Photo-02

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For some authentic German food In Bangkok one place to go is Bei Otto on Sukhumvit Soi 20. It's run by chef/owner Otto Dufner, a Bangkok veteran of about 27 years. Otto's a big, burly guy with hands like a pair of Carpathian hams. He looks like the stereotypical German burgher straight out of his native Black Forest, but instead of engaging in some sort of rough physical type of labor Otto mastered the art of cooking and baking.

Those are two of the activities that take place here, the others being a delicatessen and a butchery. Actually, nothing is killed on the premises, but instead, some of the best German sausages, cold cuts and other meat delicacies are manufactured in the large kitchen and food prep areas.

The food that Otto makes here is an important part of the German experience at Bei Otto, but more on that a little later. Of per­haps equal importance is the atmosphere that Otto has created through the decor and the clien­tele that frequent the restaurant.

Our favorite section of this rambling three-part structure is the dining room with the large circular bar as a centerpiece.

There's also another dining room and a deli area where everything from meats, cheeses, beers, prepared foods (including Otto's own line of canned German soups) and a large selection of international newspapers are sold. The bar/dining room has the coziest ambiance, however, and re­minds us of what we think a Ger­man country inn should look like.

White, stuccoed walls and ceilings are set off by narrow, dark beams and window trimmings. Comfortable chairs and banquettes provide seating for about 60 people in this room and the adjoining addition and the walls are covered with dozens of photos of patrons enjoying themselves in the restaurant over the years. There have been seven years here, by the way, and an additional six at an earlier location on Sukhumvit.

The clientele here on the Tuesday night we visited was mostly foreigners with a sprin­kling of Thais and everyone was busily eating and drinking. For a Tuesday, it was actually quite a good crowd. The other dining room across the way was doing a brisk business as well. In fact, if you're interested in visiting on a weekend you better make reservations first or you could find yourself waiting for a table. Anyway, the foreigners here looked like they could all have been German, so it lended a little more authenticity to the surroundings.

And if you do, at some time, find yourself waiting for a table, you won't mind too much be­cause you'll be able to experience another aspect of the authentic German flavor of the restaurant by Sipping on one of the imported beers that are available. Otto brings in some real German wheat beers as well as some pilsners like Warsteiner and Kaiser and the excellent Deibel's Alt, a dark amber brew with a nutty, toasty taste that's light on the hops and very smooth on the palate. Try one of the Schneider Weisse varieties too, for a representative taste of some of Germany's best wheat beers.

When you get to the menu you'll find a wide variety of well­known German favorites and some lesser known dishes as well. A pan-fried Bavarian meat­loaf and braised beef in sweet and sour gravy fall into the latter category. Various German sausages, wiener schnitzel and pork knuckle are representative of the former category.

The appetizer and soup sections contain dishes from Ger­many and the rest of Europe with entries like Norwegian smoked salmon, deep-fried camembert cheese, Hungarian goulash, Ital­ian tomato soup, potato soup, and German pea soup.

The sausage page contains nine entrees and all of the sausages are, of course, made in Otto's butchery. And, in addition to the regular entrees, which cover several pages, there are five steak entrees that are pre­pared on the Lava Grill. We neglected to ask what a Lava Grill is, but the dishes looked quite appetizing, especially the Chateau briand.

The desserts page features some German favorites also with strudel leading the way. We've never made it that far because the portions here are very large. You'll have to struggle to make it through an appetizer and main course, so keep that in mind if you want to have dessert.

One thing that must be men­tioned is the level of the service here. It is undoubtedly one of the top places in Bangkok when it comes to the attentiveness of the waiters, the speed of the kitchen in putting out the food and the overall friendliness of the staff. Whoever is responsible for man­aging this end of the operation deserves the highest kudos.

Great service always helps one to enjoy the food more and some of our favorites here include the grilled .half chicken with French fries, a real deal at only 150 baht, the pan-fried sole fillet at 250 baht and any of the sausage dishes which range from 95 to 180 baht. These and any of the other dishes offer real value for money.

We don't know if value for money is another German characteristic or just one of Otto's, but either way this is a great place to experience a full range of German delicacies in an authentic way. Bei Otto has certainly made a tremendous effort to present as authentic an experience as possible for diners and they should be commended for reaching the level that they have. It's the next best thing to being in Germany.

See for info on Bangkok restaurants.

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