I’ve recently had the urge to buy a point-and-shoot digital camera. There are times, particularly when doing food-related pics or schlepping around places doing guidebook research that I’d rather have a camera that I can carry with one hand or simply stuff in my pocket. I’ve also been influenced by this article by Peter Hessler, in which he explains how a small digital camera proved helpful in the writing his excellent new book, Country Driving. In the piece he describes how looking at digital snapshots, sometimes several years after they were taken, helped to remind him of details he’d forgotten and contributed to the quality and accuracy of his writing.
I’ve played around with using my iPhone, but its images (an example of which, taken recently in Melbourne, Australia, is shown above) just don’t cut it. Any recs? Ideally I want something with a fast lens (f/2) and at least some degree of manual control. I was initially drawn to Leica’s digital point-and-shoots, largely because I’ve long wanted to own something with the Leica logo, but they’re expensive and generally don’t get very strong reviews. The Canon PowerShot S90 seems to get high ratings and is affordable. And apparently a particular model of Ricoh has garnered substantial praise from those who do lots of food-related photography.
Sawang is a decades-old bamee (wheat and egg noodles) joint virtually across the street from Bangkok’s Hualamphong Train Station. It’s easily located by its overabundance of florescent green lighting and the aged and rather grumpy owner who sits in a chair out front. Some aged promotional material inside desribes Sawang as “The most expensive bamee in Thailand.” Yet despite these ominous attributes, it’s now my favourite place in town to eat the dish.
Discovering Sawang — it was a tip-off from Jarrett — was well timed. Over the last few months I’ve been in something of a restaurant rut here in Bangkok. I’ve been making the effort to try places new to me, but most of those that I’ve been directed to have been mediocre, or worse. Sawang has the benefit of being both good and close to my home.
Several things about bamee stand out here. The roast pork is fatty and bacon-like and worlds away from the limp, lean, red-painted stuff you find at the vast majority of Bangkok’s bamee restaurants and stalls. The noodles are toothsome and tasty and lack the disturbing whiff of ammonia that lesser restaurants use as a leavening agent. And unlike most bamee places which tend to separate their liquids, the broth at Sawang is essentially the same water used to boil the noodles:
thus its cloudy appearance (see pic below). It’s also worth mentioning that they’re fairly liberal with the MSG here; on my first visit a thumb-wide trail of the white crystals ran down the side of my bowl.
The kiaw (wontons) here are simply shrimp encased in a thin dough wrapper:
They’re simple and tasty, but I prefer the heartier version at Mankorn Khao, in which the shrimp are surrounded by minced pork that’s been blended with an intense mixture of coriander root, garlic and white pepper. The bowl above was served with generous chunks of fresh crab claw meat, and at 100B (about US$3), is one of the more expensive around.
336/3-4Thanon Phra Ram IV
02 236 1772
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