Today’s lunch was taken at a local noodle joint that I’ve previously described here. Don’t normally like to do reruns, but this place has a great dish that I’ve only recently discovered. The dish is called hoy jor, and looks like this:
Hoy jor is ground pork mixed with crab and copious black pepper, which is then wrapped in a tofu skin and deep-fried. It’s similiar to the dish mentioned here, and is essentially a protein-based spring roll. The dish is served with a sweetish plum dipping sauce that is easily forgettable, but the hoy jor itself is crispy outside and tender inside, and has so much pepper it’s almost spicy. Very good–we usually get two dishes.
Another thing I ordered that I usually don’t is crysanthemum juice:
Don’t think I’ll be doing that again. Way too sweet, and tastes like a Chinese apothecary smells!
And I couldn’t resist the usual, kwaytiao khae:
The meatballs and fishballs (there are about five different kinds) here are outstanding.
It’s Tuesday, and that means mini market night in my neighborhood. Not too much to choose from on Tuesdays–Saturday is big market day–but there is one lady selling decent northern Thai food, which is what I ended up choosing.
Many of you are familiar with laap (or laab or larb), but I doubt many of you have tried the northern version, laap khua:
Khua means fried, and in this dish ground pork, along with pork liver, heart, tripe, skin and intestines, are sauteed with a curry paste. The curry paste contains a dried herb called ma khwaen, which gives this dish a spicy “numbing” flavor, somewhat similar to Szechuan pepper.
With this I had the northern staple, nam phrik num:
A “dip” of grilled chilies, garlic, tomatoes and shallots eaten with deep-fried pork rinds:
and par-boiled and fresh veggies:
All of this was taken, as is the tradition, with sticky rice. A decent meal–and all for 45 baht ($1.25)!
As the title suggests, this post is definately NOT about Thai food. But after living here for nearly seven years now, one does get the odd craving for some Western-style food. Rather than satisfying this urge by eating at overpriced and underwhelming restaurants, I usually just make it myself.
My latest craving was tacos. Not Old El Paso crispy shell ground beef iceberg lettuce American tacos, but real tacos, as illustrted in this fun New York Times piece. This, coupled with the blog mentioned in the article, The Great Taco Hunt, put me over the edge; I had to make tacos. Luckily, or coincidentally, or both, it just so happened that Mark Bittman recently did a piece on making tacos. Following his recipe for Pastor, marinated pork, I went out, bought the ingredients, and here are the results (not the greatest pics–I was really anxious to try them!):
They really came out quite nicely. Bittman’s recipe involved marinading the pork overnight in a mixture of dried spices (coriander, cumin, peppercorns and cinnamon) and orange and lime juice. The next step required roasting the meat in an oven, but as I don’t have an oven, I just simmered the meat in a bit of water in a large pot. After about two hours I took off the lid to allow the liquid to evaporate and the meat was incredibly tender and fragrant.
Here you can see the condiments:
Even the tortillas were made in Thailand, an included a semi-decent corn tortilla:
And a less decent flour torilla:
Will definately be making tacos again.
The above is not a question, but rather the name of a new restaurant on Soi Sena 1, not far from my house. From the outside it looked like the kind of cute cafe/restaurant that seem to be popping up everywhere in Thailand. In reality it was much more basic, and was the kind of inexpensive and basic eating place that university students thrive on. Sometimes these places can be good. Sometimes they can be great. This one was almost good.
I started with khao khluk kapi:
This is rice that has been cooked with shrimp paste (kapi) and topped with sour shredded mango, sliced omelet, cucumber, chilies, dried shrimp and Chinese sausage, among other things. This dish usually includes a side of muu waan, pork stir-fried in copious sugar and minimal soy sauce, which I don’t care for and always ask them to hold. I’ve actually been wanting to feature this dish for a long time, it’s a brilliant Thai invention, but this is not the greatest example, as the dish is usually much more attractively arranged. In addition, the best khao khluk kapi have a few more toppings, and come with a bowl of broth.
We also had flash-fried morning glory:
a dish that probably constitutes a good third of out diet! It’s crunchy, garlicky, salty and green, and everything else that’s good.
And the last was tom yam po taek thale:
Po taek (literally “broken pier”, not sure why), is simply tom yam with the addition of bai kraphrao (I think this is called “holy basil” in English). This one was extremely spicy; I reckon there’s few groups of people around the world who can tolerate food of this heat other than the Thais. The ‘shrooms were nice, but the seafood (shrimp, squid, fish) was crap.
Seems I was chosen as Blog of the Month at Thailand Voice. Only discovered this by accident. Why wasn’t I informed of this honor? And how do I now put their nifty banner on my blog? So many questions. Maybe I’m just not ready for this kind of fame.
Coming across the above site also led me to the previously unknown to me Thai food blog, Enjoy Thai Food. Some good info and nice wide-angle pics.
Another good Thailand-based blog is that of aspiring photographer, Gregoire Glachant. Unlike me this guy actually knows how to use his flash!
Despite being in San Francisco, FriskoDude has a knack for finding the most interesting news stories happening in Thailand.
Know of any other interesting Thailand-based blogs? There seem to be so few…
No, I don’t make this stuff up. Salmon Cuisine is really truly the name of the restaurant where I took today’s lunch. And no, the food is not just for fish. People can eat there too.
The restaurant is one of countless “steak” restaurants found around Bangkok nowadays. These restaurants typically serve overpriced Western-style food, the “steaks” generally being sorry-looking pork chops! They’re generally to be avoided, but today Salmon Cuisine caught my eye for 1. Its ridiculous name 2. A Thai-language sign out fron stating that they served roti kaeng karee. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this dish, roti is a kind of crispy pancake of Muslim origin, and kaeng karee, literally “curry curry”, a Muslim-style coconut milk-based curry laden with dry spices. At Salmon Cuisine these came together as a set:
and were not half bad. I suspect the roti was of the pre-made frozen variety (and was, as you can see, a bit on the meagre side), but it was well heated up and crispy nonetheless. The curry was pleasantly spicy, with small chunks of potato and carrot. The topping you see there is cripsy deep-fried shallots. Comprehensively delish, but more a snack that a meal.
Khuat had already eaten and was after dessert, and ordered an apple crepe with vanilla ice cream:
Waaaay too sweet. The ice cream was from Swensens, which is popular here, but to my tongue tastes somehow “artificial” and, again much too sweet. The pool of syrup seen at the back of the plate is a a pool of syrup. These dishes and two drinks cost 300 baht ($8)! This may not seem a lot to some of you in The West, but compare this with my far superior northern Thai meal of a few days ago for a mere 45 baht!
A couple more close-up shots of the food can be seen here.
And due to popular demand, from now on I’m going to try to list the addresses and phone numbers of the places I visit.
Located under the Ram Inthra Expressway (about 1 km from Ram Intra Road)
02 949 9644
phat kraphrao plaa meuk, squid stir-fried with basil. Salty, spicy, sloppy and garlicky. All my faves. And then there’s also the bonus of a fried egg. This was consumed at a nondescript restaurant, but the dish is mad easy to make and I’ll try to include a recipe soon.
Spent yesterday evening in bowels of Yaowarat, Bankgok’s Chinatown, with China Williams, guidebook author and self-proclaimed “huge fan, really big, immense…” of RealThai, and Alex, a representative of her publishing company. In an instance of what China refers to as “research”, we scanned the area in search of interesting eats–and ate them. Yes, believe it or not, some people get paid to do this! I, unfortunately was not getting paid, but enjoyed the experience nonetheless. I hadn’t been to Chinatown late at night in quite a while, and was quite blown away by the food choices. After wandering a bit, this is where we eventually decided on this Chinese-style eatery with heaps of prepared foods to choose from:
The place is called Khao Tom Plaeng Naam, and is located at the Charoen Krung end of Thanon Plaeng Naam. They’re apparently open 24 hours, which explains why some of the choices looked less fresh than others, but we still had pretty good meal of stewed pork ribs, fish steamed in garlic, flash-fried morning glory and deep-fried fish.
Dessert took the form of a fruit smoothie at this stall on Thanon Yaowarat, directly across from Chraroen Krung Soi 16:
I think it’s only open in the evenings, but I really recommend it if you’re in the area. It served by far the biggest, and probably the best smoothie I’ve had in ages.
Due to a Chinese holiday, the main market street, Soi 16, was open late, and was selling an obscene amount of boiled chickens (given as offerings, I’m told):
And despite the late hour (we were there at midnight), there was an equally obscene amount of people still to be found eating in Chinatown:
The people above are eating kuay jap, a thick, slimy-ish “stew” of pork at an extremely popular stall near the smoothie joint, but in Chinatown you can also get grilled seafood:
birds’ nest soup:
khao man kai, Hainanese chicken rice:
or the best of both worlds, noodles AND poultry, here barbecued duck:
Again, please keep in mind that these foods are only available at night, typically not until about 8 PM. Chinatown’s fresh markets are fun in the mornings, but the area is not a terrific food desination during the day.
Before going over to Chinatown yesterday, I spent a couple hours at Paak Khlong Talaat, one of Bankgok’s biggest wholesale markets, and come evening, the home of Bangkok’s famous flower market. There’s lots to see here, and even more to photograph, but it’s tough shooting. Low light makes it necessary to use a tripod in most cases, and the variety of light (natural, tungsten, flourescent) wreaks havoc on even the best digital SLRs. I don’t like to use a tripod though, and could care less about White Balance, and tried to take advantage of these factors, as well as the hectic nature of the market:
No, the young man above is not on fire; he’s simply moving some bright yellow flowers. This guy is moving roses wrapped in newspaper:
Choosing the right flowers can be a hard decision:
After all, there are lotuses:
and more lotuses:
and… uh, I’m really not sure what these are:
Particular to Thailand are buds of fragrant jasmine that have been threaded and formed into garlands, often used as religious offerings:
Another happy customer:
and another busy vendor:
at a busy market:
A few more pics from the night can be seen here.
Noodles are big in Bangkok, and at the top of the heap sits yen ta fo, a noodle-dish probably of southern Chinese origin that combines a sweetish red broth, fish balls and morning glory. There are countless restaurants serving this dish, but a new one caught my eye today. It is called Yen Ta Fo Corner, and is located in an small outdoor mall called Palm Street.
We started with a couple unusual appetizers. The first was deep-fried fish skin:
As bizarre as it sounds, this is actually pretty common find in yen ta fo restaurants, however this version was apparently made from salmon skin, and was served with an excellent nam phrik phao, a roasted chili dip–both divergences from the norm. Ironically, I dislike the skin when eating fish in other forms, but kinda like this dish.
This was followed by a variety of fish balls, topped with chinese celery and crispy garlic, and served with a spicy/sour dipping sauce:
They make some pretty good balls here, and the exceedingly detailed notes on the menu testified that they are made from 100% fish with no preservatives or borax! The long ball in the front is known as a “rugby” ball, the darker one behind it is a shrimp ball, and behind that is kiaow plaa, a “fish wonton” filled with ground pork, coriander root, garlic and pepper. The dipping sauce, a combination of tiny fresh chilis, garlic, lime juice and fish sauce, is standard in Thailand, but absolutely delicious.
We then made it to the restaurant’s namesake, yen ta fo:
This was somewhat disappointing. The broth was a bit too red and too sweet, the noodles limp and overcooked, and the morning glory on the skimpy side. But again, some pretty good balls.
A view from the top:
Yen Ta Fo Corner
Palm Street Shopping Complex
Located under the Ram Inthra Expressway, about 2 km from Lad Phrao.