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Bangkok Tai Tong Famous Shark Fin @ Charoen Krung Road · Shark Fin Soup is Elevated Chicken Soup ไต๋ตงหูฉลามเลิศรสบางรัก 大中著名鱼翅

I sneaked out of the hotel because I missed craved the burnt porridge of Charoen Krung Road 😬 

But, I lost my way and stumbled upon Tai Tong Famous Shark Fin on Charoen Krung Road instead.

I normally wouldn't stop at a shark fin place but as I passed this way, I smelled a certain unusual umami type of aroma (it reminded me of squid ink, I don't know why). It was a worker boiling dried shark fins.

My foodie curiosity kicked in.

This stopped me in my tracks as I have never seen this done before.

After boiling, the shark fins were cleaned and stretched out on rattan trays to dry.

Tai Tong Restaurant owner Phaisan “Hei Hui” Asawathanaphong'

The dried shark fin is added into a thick viscous collagen rich brown soup made with chicken and ham stock, crab meat, dried mushroom, dried abalone, and other ingredients from a closely guarded recipe.

Curiosity got the better of me and I pushed past the door into the restaurant. It's those old, slightly elevated type of Chinese restaurant. It's lunch time but a little quiet. The few customers seemed like regulars.

Tai Tong started as a push cart stall in the 1960s by current owner Phaisan “Hei Hui” Asawathanaphong's father. The stall was famous for its rich chicken stock soup and grew to the two storey Tai Tong restaurant. (Source credit)

The shark fin menu. 

They have other dishes like sea cucumber, goose web, etc in the same brown soup. They have stir fried dishes such as their popular crab fried rice and also crab roll (which I must come back to try).

First of all, I am not a fan of finning sharks. But, I thought I can document this for people who are curious about what this dish is about in terms of its taste. And, you can decide your own position on this.

So, I ordered the smallest Baht 600 (SGD 23) serving for documentary purpose.

The dish was served in a claypot steamy, bubbling, tongue scathing hot.

It is served with condiments like mustard sauce, chili sauce, pepper, etc., which I didn't use.

There's coriander and julienned bamboo shoot as toppings.

I tasted the soup with and without the coriander and bamboo shoot.

The viscous, full bodied brown soup (chicken stock base) was thick with collagen and not sure what else. The main flavour was umami savoury in many layers from soy sauce, crab meat, dried black mushroom, dried abalone, and other secret ingredients (possibly dried scallop, dried cuttlefish, etc).

With the coriander and bamboo shoot, they added a bit of crunch and a bit of their own aromatics and sweetness. But, by not much. So it is basically the same umami savoury profile.

The small pieces of shark fin were basically the bony and cartilaginous tissue stewed till they were soft with subtle residual crunch. These tissues do not have flavour of their own, only texture.

The flavours come from the umami savoury rich sweet brown soup which were infused into the shark fin tissue.

So, in my humble opinion, for taste, goose web, sea cucumber, dried abalone with the brown soup would give me a better experience than shark fin as these ingredients themselves have more flavour than shark fin. Furthermore, I prefer their textures too. (So, those simulated "vegetarian" shark fin when paired with a good quality chicken, ham and dried seafood stock would work just fine as "shark fin soup".) 

I feel shark fin, including its purported health benefits, is mostly over hyped (even if it is a tradition from long ago - hype is not only a social media era phenomenon 😂 ).


Restaurant name: Tai Tong Famous Shark Fin ไต๋ตงหูฉลามเลิศรสบางรัก 大中著名鱼翅

Address: 1459 Charoen Krung Road, Silom, Bang Rak, Bangkok 10500

Nearest BTS: 10 minutes walk from Saphan Taksin station

Tel: 0846405563

Hours: 12:00 noon - 10pm

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Written by Tony Boey on 15 Dec 2023

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