Still in the Thanon Tanao area of Banglamphu, virtually across the street from K. Phanich and Nom Jo (I told you there’s a lot of good stuff to eat here), exists a second-generation shop that specializes in making one product: paa thong ko. Essentially deep-fried bits of dough, it’s a simple dish, and the owner has been making them in the same place for fifty years, taking over from his parents after they were too old to run the business.
The paa thong ko are served with a sweet milk-based dipping sauce flavoured with (and turned green by) bai toey, pandanus:
Paa Thong Ko Sawoey (Google Maps link)
540 Thanon Tanao
02 222 2635
Another day, another Bangkok food legend. Today’s gem is Likhit Kai Yaang, an ancient isaan restaurant next door to Ratchadamnoen Thai boxing stadium in Banglamphu. Likhit doesn’t appear to have changed much since its apparent grand opening in 1960-something, and is not unlike, I imagine, a Soviet-era mess hall. And as was probably the case with Soviet-era mess halls, I wouldn’t particularly advise looking into the cave-like kitchen.
Kai yaang means grilled chicken, and this is what people come here to eat. The birds (in this case kai baan, the Thai version of free range chicken) are first marinaded in a secret mixture, which I’m thinking must include at the least garlic, coriander seeds and/or roots and perhaps a bit of turmeric, before being grilled over coals outside the restaurant by an expert:
The result is a crispy skin redolent of the delicious marinade, and flesh that is tender and slightly smoky. Lovely indeed. Other than the restaurant’s namesake, Likhit also does the issan staples, including a delicious som tam:
tap waan, liver:
and tom saep, a spicy/sour issan-type tom yam:
All wonderful, in particular the som tam, but the chicken is the reason I’ll come back.
Likhit Kai Yaang (Google Maps link)
74/1 Thanon Ratchadamnoen Klang (next to the Thai boxing stadium)
02 281 1094
Roti Mataba is the name of restaurant on Thanon Phra Athit that has been made extremely popular by its place in the Lonely Planet guide. It used to be quite good, but standards have dipped in recent years and I’d not really recommend it any more. The Roti Mataba I’m mentioning today is an entirely different place.
Found around the corner next to Thammasat University, this Roti Mataba is located at the beginning of the impossibly narrow alleyway known as the Tha Phra Chan Market. We were simply here for a snack, and ordered a mataba (pictured above), a Thai-Muslim dish similar to a stuffed pancake. This one was filled with minced chicken that had been mixed with a delicious ‘curry’ mixture and egg. Mataba are always served with ajaat, a sweet/sour dipping sauce that includes sliced chilies (the mild type) and cucumber.
The restaurant itself is tiny cave-like affair:
(Click here to see a larger version.)
and since there’s no ventilation, and virtually everything the restaurant makes is fried, the entire place is coated with a thin film of oil. It’s also very hot, but despite all this, it really is an ideal place for a snack, as they serve a huge variety of drinks, as well as every imaginable type of Thai snack-type food, including hoy thord (fried oysters), spring rolls, som tam, and in particular, yam plaa duk foo:
the salad of crispy deep-fried catfish.
Roti Mataba Tha Phra Chan (Google Maps link)
081 309 6780
I’d like to urge any readers in Bangkok to visit the 9 Days in the Kingdom photo exhibition currently being held on the 8th floor of ZEN, Central World. The exhibition is the offshoot of the book of the same name that features the images of world-famous photographers such as Greg Gorman, David Alan Harvey, Steve McCurry, Mike Yamashita, Abbas, Eric Valli, et al over a nine-day period in Thailand during January, 2007. James Nachtwey’s images on an AIDS hospice are particularly moving, and I really enjoyed shots by Surat Osathanukhrah, Dow Wasiksiri, Gueorgui Pinkhassov and Ben Simmons. And as an added bonus, I’m actually featured in one of the images! Mad props to the first RealThai reader who finds me.
Grass jelly is a dessert of Chinese origin that can be found virtually everywhere in Southeast Asia. If you’re not familiar with it, have a look at this piece I wrote last year for a domestic paper.
My favourite place in Bangkok to eat grass jelly is an old shophouse just a few steps away from Tha Chang. There are a couple of chairs and tables inside, but most people simply sit on the stools set out along Thanon Maharat, as shown in the picture above.
The grass jelly itself has subtle ‘herbal’ flavour, and is served with crushed ice, but my favourite part is the unprocessed cane sugar, naam taan daeng, that the dish is topped with:
Something of a mini Southeast Asian food bloggers summit was held a couple weeks ago here in Bangkok. This involved Hock of Gut Feelings, Phil formerly of Phnomenon and currently The Last Appetite, and me of here, and any day now, Gut Feelings. Aided with my in-depth Bangkok food experience, as well as a handy illustrated map provided by food-blogger-in-spirit Aong, we attacked Thanons Tanao and Mahanop, leaving nary a crumb behind.
I’ve mentioned most of our stops in previous posts, so I’ll just touch the one new place I visited, Ko Lun. Directed by Aong’s map, we entered Thanon Mahanop and turned right at the fat dog:
and started with the recommended khanom jeen hailam, Hainan-style noodles (pictured above). The dish took the form of a clear, rather bland broth, with hearty udon-like noodles, and deep-fried and par-boiled pork, and oddly, toasted sesame seeds. It wasn’t much to write home about until you added the tiny bowl of seasoned shrimp paste, an unusual but tasty condiment for a noodle dish.
The restaurant’s other signature dish is goat stewed in red sauce:
It was good–although perhaps not as flavourful as the deeply-coloured broth would suggest. The goat was still pretty tough, and was supplemented with tofu skin and offal:
The dish was served with rice and two dipping sauces, one very much like the spicy/sour Thai seafood dipping sauce, another of finely shredded dried galangal that I found absolutely delish.
Despite the big names and egos involved, it was an enjoyable day, and the Summit went generally well until Phil unsuccessfully tried to score us a free meal by promising to blog on the restaurant (‘Do you know who I am? No? Does a little thing called Phnomenon ring a bell? Bitch…’).
Ko Lun (Google Maps link)
089 010 2123
Hint: The vendor was out of tomato sauce.