Previously when I thought of phalo, the first thing that came to mind was a soupy Chinese dish combining fatty pork and a boiled egg with a sweet cinnamon and anise-flavoured broth. It took the help of a friend and a trip the other side of the Chao Phraya River to realize that, when done well, this can be one of the better Chinese-Thai dishes out there.
The friend was Cherry, the same person who introduced me to one of the Bangkok-area's most famous satay vendors, and the place was again Thaa Din Daeng on the Thonburi side of the river. There we stopped by Chua Jiab Nguan, a 70 year-old restaurant known for its haan phalo, goose cooked in a spiced Chinese-style broth:
The dish is simply thin slices of goose breast served in a liberally spiced (but not spicy) broth. The goose (a notoriously difficult bird to cook) was tender, and the broth salty and spicy, and lacked the sweetness and cinnamon-flavour that I previously associated with the dish.
We also ordered another dish consisting entirely of goose intestines and goose blood:
Both were surprisingly edible, although by nature they lacked flavour; all the taste came from the broth.
Here's our spread:
The phalo was served with rice and bowls of broth, one containing bitter gourd and another with a preserved Chinese vegetable. The dishes were also accompanied by an extra bowl of the nearly black broth and a delicious dipping sauce of vinegar, crushed chilies and copious garlic.
After finishing the goose, Cherry (above) couldn't resist, and also ordered a dish of hoy jor, tofu skins filled with a crab and ground pork mixture and deep-fried:
These appeared to have more crab than pork, which is rare, and were among the best I've had.
Chua Jiab Nguan (Google Maps link)
438 Thanon Thaa Din Daeng, Thonburi
02 437 2084