“Do not release animals into the parliament“
One of the “Vote No” animal placards by People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), which has been making its rounds around Bangkok for the past couple of weeks.
To me, it’s really a pity if you cannot—or refuse—to eat street food in Bangkok. The quality and hygiene standards may be lacking at some stalls, but when you meet a good one, you are bombarded with a smorgasbord of flavors and textures. Take this hole-in-the-wall along Soi Thong Lor (around 100 meters from the soi entrance) that M, P and I visited today.
With just filmsy metal tables and rickety plastic stools lining a cracked pavement, an open kitchen that was enveloped in smoke half the time and lightbulbs hanging from cables strewn across trees, the owners managed to carve out a small-time business serving Isan-style specialties. There was a steady stream of patrons while we were there, which probably is a reflection of the popularity of this roadside stall.
We three famished gluttons ordered enough food to feed a small army: som tom puu (papaya salad with crab), som tam puu plaa raa (papaya salad with crab and fermented fish sauce), seua ronghai (crying tiger a.k.a. grilled beef), muu manaao (pork with lime sauce), khor muu yang (grilled pork shoulder), jim jum (Isan-style hot pot), yam ruam mit (mixed salad) and sai oon yang (grilled pork intestines), alongside sticky rice and chilled beer.
M suggested trying paeng nom muu (pork teats), but unfortunately the stall ran out of teats, so we opted for grilled pork intestines instead—which wasn’t on the menu but the owners gamely agreed to whip it up for us. We joked that unlike the hi-so and hipster set who flock to Thong Lor to see and be seen, we were instead holed up at this low-so eatery with sweat dripping down our foreheads. We ate and talked and ate some more; by the end of two hours, the chairs were groaning under our weight and our buttons threatening to pop.
The damage for all this good food and company on a Friday evening? 690 baht.
My new Sukhumvit 101/1 neighbourhood is full of Chinese culinary gems, with khao naa phet, or duck rice, as one of my favourites. One particular restaurant, which has plump braised ducks hanging from steel rods at its front facade, always calls out to me whenever I walk by. A few weeks ago we finally walked in and gave it a try, and the meal turned out to be really delicious.
If you are an innards-eater—like me—you should opt for the stall’s signature dish: sai kaew, which means glass intestines. When the plates were served, we initially eyed the intestines with some suspicion; unlike the brown colouration commonly associated with braised intestines, the off-white appearance of these intestines looked rather unusual—and a bit off-putting. Nonetheless, we popped them into our mouth. They were slippery and chewy, with a bland taste that I’d associate with jellyfish. I think it’s a simply a matter of personal preference whether one takes to this dish (we didn’t).
But other parts of the meal are worth mentioning. The duck meat was soft and tender to the bite, and it slipped effortlessly off the bone. It’s best to drizzle the meat with some nam jim, a fiery green sauce served in a small dish. We also like the soup side dish, a rich brew with a subtle taste of herbs that we couldn’t stop savouring until the last drop. All parts of the duck are available, from the neck to the wings to the feet.
I’m usually not a fan of duck rice, but this experience has altered my perception. Now I can’t wait for my dad, a lover of duck meat, to come visit me so that we can check out this restaurant together.
On Friday, my colleagues N and J asked me to join them for cakes at After You Dessert Cafe. It was a scrumptious offer best savoured with fellow girls—my husband often turns up his nose at desserts and things saccharine—so I readily accepted their invite. We headed to the outlet at Siam Paragon, and it was already packed with high school and university students on a late Friday afternoon. We had to wait around 10 minutes before getting a table, so I’d imagine that queues would get much longer once the office crowd knock off for the weekend.
We finally decided on a Tiramisu dessert as well as the signature Shibuya Honey Toast (THB165), which is a thick piece of toast that comes loaded with two scoops of vanilla ice cream and whipped cream (strawberries are optional). Drizzle some honey on top of the toast to make it an ultimate sinful treat. A word of caution though: the toast’s probably too big and sweet to eat by oneself, so it’s best to share it together with dessert-loving company. Overall, the desserts are yummy and once they arrive on the table, I think most people will have to exercise some self-restraint to not tuck in the desserts ravenously and say ‘after you’ to friends.
Wanting to skip an unsatisfying meal in Bangkok’s run-of-the-mill malls, P and I walked along Chalerm Prakiet Ratchakan Road after our visit to Suan Luang Ror 9 (Rama IX Park) to see which roadside restaurant would catch our fancy. We traipsed for a good 20 minutes before we stumbled upon Sompong, a shophouse-restaurant that sells Teochew porridge. P initially hesitated because Chinese porridge is like “bland food for the sick” to his strong flavours-inclined palate. I, however, was craving for Teochew muay. And of course, P gave in and into Sompong we went.
At the food display counter, we were excited by the many different types of fish available. It took us several minutes before we decided on plaa krapong neung si ew, or sea bass steamed in soy sauce, as well as braised pork intestines with tau pok (fried beancurd) and asparagus with mushrooms to accompany our porridge meal. I wanted to try chap chye (braised mixed vegetables) but decided against it as three dishes should be enough to fill our two bellies. P and I overeat very often so we’re currently trying to exercise restraint during our meals.
Though the sea bass wasn’t the best nor freshest we’ve tasted in Thailand, but it was quite delicious and worth the price (180B). We finished every morsel—me gobbling up the meaty bits while P scoured the cheeks and eyeballs—leaving behind a plate of cleaned fish skeleton. When I was younger, I didn’t like fish for I think it was very cumbersome to pick the meat from between the bones. But I’m very happy that, under the influence of P, I’m taking a liking to—and with a growing appreciation of—fish dishes. After all, I want to be a real food lover with a discerning and easy-going palate. 😉
Since my arrival in Bangkok two years ago, I’ve been intrigued by the BNE signs seen around the city. They are often seen as stickers pasted on poles, pillars and public phone booths, or as spray paint scrawled onto abandoned walls. At first, I thought it is someone/some company seeking a cheap way to advertise their services on the streets of Bangkok, but there isn’t any website or contact number for inquiries. The often-accompanying Chinese characters, which reads 参上 and seems to me more Japanese than Chinese, don’t give any inkling of what it is either. Until I read this article in New York Times a couple of months back and it finally shed light on this street graffiti.