My friend Jesse's description of this bedraggled lane (as best as I can remember from 1993) was intended as reassurance. Following his footsteps, my friend Bill and I had to walk another several minutes from the foot of well-trafficked Th. Si Ayutthaya to reach the Chao Phraya River and Kaloang Home Kitchen. Most of the restaurant's seating was on an expansive (and, all those years ago, substantial-looking) deck, so we felt fortunate to clamber aboard the large wooden boat tied up alongside and be guided to the single table at the bow.
We ate massive green New Zealand mussels, and wild boar, and a dish whose name was something like "chilli-broiled serpent's head in chilli sour" and that turned out not to contain snake but, rather, one of those predatory fish with a head shaped like a serpent. For dessert, crushed ice and sea coconut. Bill and I also discovered why we and a party of European businessmen were alone on the boat, while Thai customers sat on the deck, as soon as the first river taxi motored by and sent our table pitching in its wake.
At least as recently as 2006, when the photo above was taken, the lane leading to Kaloang Home Kitchen was still much as I remember from that first visit. By 2010, though, when Bill and I returned for lunch, the "back yard" had been almost completely cleared of canopies, cookstoves, laundry, and the like. The boat, too, had set sail (or been scuttled), so we sat on the deck, our view largely blocked by a roofed pier that sat in the river, parallel to the bank and close by the restaurant. The one dish we would have reordered in a shot, the snakehead, was nowhere to be found on the menu; we made do with catfish larb (about 100 baht), a meaty crab (600 baht), and vegetables with salted fish (about 100 baht). Perfectly satisfactory, all of them — but there's no matching the excitement of your first time in Bangkok, when you're years younger. and the boat's a-rockin'.
Kaloang Home Kitchen
2 Soi Wat Thevarajkunchorn (off Th. Si Ayutthaya, at the Chao Phraya River), Bangkok