A blog about food in Thailand
and elsewhere.

Monthly Archives: June 2011

Pratu Chiang Mai

Posted at 7pm on 6/3/11 | read on
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It may look like a scan of a strip of film, but the above image is actually composite image stitched together from 22 separate exposures taken at Chiang Mai’s Pratu Chiang Mai night market (click here for a bigger version).

It’s not perfect – if you look closely, there are some perspective issues that I’m not clever enough to resolve with Photoshop, not to mention 3/4 of a bicycle and some mysterious twins. But if all goes well, the panorama will be used to decorate one very long and presently blank wall at the new Portland, Oregon restaurant, Pok Pok Noi.

Khao Khaa Muu Trok Sung

Posted at 6am on 6/9/11 | read on


I’m pretty amazed when I scroll through this blog and see the pics of all the food I’ve eaten in Thailand. Quite frankly, I’ve eaten a lot of stuff. And just in case you’re wondering, I do mean this in the boastful way that it sounds.

But I also mean it in the literal sense: I eat a lot.

As illustrated above, my recent visit to Khao Khaa Muu Trok Sung, a longstanding restaurant off Th Charoen Krung, was an example of the latter.


Despite my previous declaration, I haven’t actually eaten much khao khaa muu, Chinese-style stewed pork leg, so I’m not the best judge of the dish. But I enjoyed the version sold here. The pork was fall-apart tender and well-seasoned. As is the case with this dish, it was accompanied by a vinegary dipping sauce studded with fresh chilies – a necessary divergence from all the fat and meat. I would have liked more of the crispy pickled veggies, but this was somewhat made up for by the tasty soup with bitter melon. The only real weak point was the muu krob, crispy pork, which seemed to have been poorly seasoned and clumsily deep-fried several hours previous.

And just in case this wasn’t enough fat and cholesterol, just across Th Charoen Krung is a popular vendor of sticky rice for mango and/or durian sticky rice:


which of course, I visited.

Like I said, I’ve eaten a lot of stuff.

Khao Khaa Muu Trok Sung
Trok Sung, Th Charoen Krung, Bangkok
10.30am-7pm Mon-Sat

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Sam-Ang Kulap

Posted at 11pm on 6/21/11 | read on


The area around northern Bangkok’s Victory Monument is home to several restaurants selling kuay tiaw ruea, ‘boat noodles’. The restaurants are known for serving exceptionally cheap – at little as 5B – bowls of the dish,  and are the legacy of a tradition that previously saw the noodles prepared and sold from small wooden boats in a nearby canal. Today, the canal is fetid and mostly empty and all the shops have moved to land. The restaurants remain quite well known, but aren’t particularly tidy or tasty, and their setting at the edge of a stinky canal isn’t very inspiring.

Luckily, a couple blocks away on a slightly more pleasant stretch of the canal, is, Sam-Ang Kulap. Having served boat noodles for more than 40 years now, they claim to be among the first of five boats to have sold the dish in the area. According to a history of the restaurant that’s printed on the wall, a that time a bowl cost 1B, and it wasn’t until the late ’70s that they began to sell the noodles from land. They remain in the same location today:


In 2011 a bowl of boat noodles will set you back 15B (US$0.50), but the despite the low price, the noodles here are solid, and in my opinion could serve as the archetype for a well done, balanced bowl of a boat noodles. The broth is rich, round and meaty with relatively little spice flavour or spiciness, and is supplemented with a few cuts of tender meat (beef or pork), blood, and/or meatballs. The bowls emerge from the boat-shaped prep station with amazing speed:


perhaps a legacy of the boat era.

Ask for a bowl of par-boiled phak bung (a crispy green vegetable sometimes called morning glory) and you have a delicious and balanced, Bangkok-style meal.

Sam-Ang Kulap
Soi 18, Th Ratchawithi, Bangkok

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Daeng Racha Hoy Thot

Posted at 6am on 6/24/11 | read on
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Located in a quiet side street in Bangkok’s Chinatown, this family has allegedly been selling hoy thot, a type of crispy mussel omelet, for 80 years – the last 30 of these at the present location.

The hoy thot is pretty good: crispy, eggy and well seasoned, with fat, fresh mussels:


The or suan, oysters fried in a sticky batter, didn’t quite live up to that of my favourite vendor, and was pretty oily, although the oysters were nice.

Daeng Racha Hoy Thot
Soi Sukorn 1, Bangkok

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Somsak Pu Op

Posted at 9pm on 6/25/11 | read on
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I’ve finally got a bit of free time and have been investigating the restaurants and stalls recommended in a handful of Thai-language food guides I bought months ago. Most recently, Kin Rob Krung 2 (‘Eating Around Bangkok 2’) led me Somsak Pu Op, a streetside stall in Thonburi, across the Chao Phraya River from Bangkok.

Somsak specialises in pu op wun sen, crab ‘baked’ with wun sen (glass jelly noodles). In fact, they essentially only do this dish, if you don’t count a variant using prawn, as well as a couple steamed shellfish dishes. On my visit, the crab was cashed, so we went with the prawns.

As is the norm with this dish, the seafood is put on a bed that includes a liberal chunk of pork fat, lots of garlic, black peppercorns and Szechuan pepper:


These ingredients are then ‘baked’ (the op in the name) in a lidded clay or heavy metal pan, with the noodles and a sprinkling of fresh herbs.

Somsak does this in stages, cooking the prawns first:


before seasoning (with Maggi and a bit of water) and adding the noodles, followed by a final topping of green onions. The downside with this method is that the prawns tended to be a bit overcooked, and the noodles undercooked – ideally the latter should be slightly dry (even a bit crispy at the edges, if you ask me) and seasoned by the pork fat, garlic and pepper. This isn’t the case here, but any any lack of seasoning is made up for by Somsak’s delicious Thai seafood-style dipping sauce, which was intensely tart and spicy.

Probably not the most balanced version of the dish, but satisfyingly rich, and at 200B, relatively cheap.

Somsak Pu Op
Cnr Soi 1, Th Lad Ya & Th Charoen Rat
5-11pm Tue-Sun

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Yen Ta Fo Wat Khaek

Posted at 5am on 6/28/11 | read on


Yen ta fo, noodles (typically rice, but sometimes wheat noodles) served in a slightly sweet broth with fish-based dumplings, is one of the most popular dishes in Bangkok. Stalls selling yen ta fo are just about everywhere, and over the years I’ve noticed that many of them claim a link with Wat Khaek – the somewhat derogatory name given to the Hindu temple at the corner of Th Silom and Th Pan. Yen ta fo is Chinese in origin (I suspect it has links – at least linguistically – to yong tau foo), but the name-dropping suggests that the dish may have been introduced to Thai diners from a shop or stall near this temple.

Origin speculation aside, today there’s only a single yen ta fo restaurant near Wat Khaek. And although I don’t know if it’s the original of Bangkok-style yen ta fo restaurant, the aged interior and rustic bowls of noodles served here suggest that it’s been around for quite a while.

The yen ta fo here is good, but not exceptional. The broth, which is made from chicken:


is balanced but bland, and needed more than a bit of fish sauce and dried chili to liven it up. There were lots of veggies and fishy dumplings, both supplemented with crispy salted squid and cubes of blood. This being a classic version of a classic Bangkok dish, I expected it to be much sweeter, and actually missed the tinge of sweet and the punch of garlic of a truly outstanding vendor like Yen Ta Fo JC.

Even more than the yen ta fo, I enjoyed khanom jeen kaeng kai:


chicken curry served over fresh rice noodles. The former was pleasantly salty and spicy and was supplemented with eggplants, basil leaves and fresh chilies.

Yen Ta Fo Wat Khaek also serve a few other characteristically Bangkok-style Thai/Chinese dishes such as khaa muu, stewed pork leg and popia sot, fresh spring rolls.

Yen Ta Fo Wat Khaek
Th Pan, Bangkok
9am-4pm Mon-Sat

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Thanks to leads from both Kin Rob Krung 2 and my buddy J, I was recently pointed in the direction of Lung Chu, a shophouse restaurant selling a short-list of Chinese-style dishes. They do a variety of steamed buns, dumplings and noodles here, but the specialty is khao hor bai bua (ข้าวห่อใบบัว), rice and other bits steamed in a lotus leaf. I sincerely needed pointing in this direction, as I was never previously a fan of this dish, having found previous encounters with it heavy, sweet and oddly enough, somewhat waxy.

Lung Chu’s version is still somewhat heavy (I think this is probably impossible to avoid), but this was tempered somewhat by the addition of a delicious vinegar- and crushed fresh chili-based dipping sauce. In addition to rice, the lotus leaf packet includes tender marinated pork, mushrooms, lotus seeds and a salted egg yolk, and is both well seasoned and fragrant. If you’re sharing, it’s the perfect savoury snack.

Lung Chu also serve some very nice salapao (ซาลาเปา), steamed buns (seen in background of pic above), although I suspect that they’ve simply sourced these from another vendor. They’re light without being dry or paper-like, and the sweet bun (ใส้หวาน) in particular had a deliciously fragrant sweet bean filling.

Khao Hor Bai Bua Lung Chu
2818 Th Rama IV, Bangkok
02 240 1812

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