Khao tom (ข้าวต้ม), rice soup, typically supplemented with some sort of fancy protein, is a dish that Chinese Thais take very seriously. Folks will pay the equivalent of US$9 for a bowl of the stuff, and vendors selling the dish are found just about everywhere in Bangkok's Chinatown. Despite its fame, there are a lot of mediocre bowls out there, but thanks to my friend Y (who also led me to Sisamorn), I was pointed in the direction of one of the better ones.
The entire kitchen at Tang Ngee Huat, a Chinatown shophouse restaurant, is little more than a small countertop:
This is where they assemble two versions of the dish: khao tom pet, rice soup served with duck, and khao tom kaphoh muu, with pig stomach. The owners claim that the restaurant has been serving these dishes for 63 years, following a Teochew recipe brought to Thailand by the previous generation.
Unlike most versions of the dish, which set out to impress with generous portions of fresh seafood, the star here is the broth. It's pleasantly salty and slightly peppery, with just enough deep-fried garlic so you know it's there, and satisfyingly crunchy bits of preserved vegetable. The bowl shown above is khao tom ruam, which includes duck, duck blood and pig stomach. The meat is minimal but exceedingly tender, and the odd combination somehow works.
Tang Ngee Huat 49 Th Plaeng Nam, Bangkok 02 227 6457 10am-9pm
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