Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Bangkok '06: Gourmet S#@t!!!

In the words of my good friend, Nic Ong, Thai food is serious gourmet s#@t! A melange of different Asian influences from Indochina, China, India and Southeast Asia , has produced a heady concoction of spices, chillies and aromas that is distinctly thai and globally appealing.

Kway Teow - the staple thai mid-day snack is a chinese influenced flat noodle boiled or fried to perfection. One can either have it 'dry' or 'wet' - the option being a light savoury broth that is either served on the side or poured directly into the bowl of noodles. Either way you have it, it's delicious.

And if you wish to enhance the flavour, you often have a quartet of condiments at your disposal: hot, sour, salty and sweet. From left clockwise, we have nam som prik, which is cut green chilli in vinegar, which obviously gives you the sour taste; prik nam blaa, which is salty fish sauce; prik pon which is basically dried chilli either in flake or ground powder form; and finally, namtaan, or its less exotic name, sugar; which obviously but yet strangely is to sweeten the savoury noodles.

Thai street food is everywhere. Anywhere where there is a square foot of free empty real estate, inevitable will be occupied by a vendor selling noodles, cakes, fruits, vegetables and even fried insects, I kid you not.

Soontra. Remember that name. That is the brand of untra delicious pure unsweetened fruit juice that we couldn't get enough of. It's a bit on the expensive side (30 - 50 baht) but once you taste it, you'll keep coming back for me. The vendor we always frequented is at the Saphan Taksin station and two really lovely ladies.. er.. man the stall till around eight in the evening. The fruit juices come in a variety of flavours from the common orange and apple to the more exotic lemongrass and beetroot (ok, technically these aren't fruits but what the hey). Try one, try them all.

Every morning, as we walked out from the hotel to the BTS station, we have to fight the temptation to just grab all these wonderful knick knacks on sale . They're all so cheap, all so delicious, all so fattening. Hehehe

But if there's one particular snack that'll weaken my resolve , it's this: grilled banana. There is this old lady at the corner who serves up the most delicious (and piping hot) charcoal grilled morsels of delight that you see in the above pic, for only 5 baht each. Be careful you don't burn your tongue, tho.

In the evenings, nothing satisfies better than a plate of pad thai, a local version of fried noodles packed with garlic, onions, pork bits and bean sprouts, garnished with basil and lemongrass. Yummy!

In the land of Buddha and muay thai, halal food (read: no pork) can be hard to come by. Poor Fai who is muslim had to make do with whatever 'halal' food scraps he could get outside of McDonalds (heck even McD has pork in their hamburgers here!). When we found a roadside stall selling beef noodles (a rarity in buddhist Bangkok), we just had to indulge him and well, it wasn't bad. In fact, quite flavourful, actually.

Someone asked me what was it about Bangkok that keeps me going back for more. Is it the shopping? The seedy nightlife? Thai massage?

Well, I can't say for anyone else, but for me, its the food. Glorious thai cuisine that is so unique and yet so universally loved. From grilled banana to sliced corn, and from pad thai to succulent thai mango, there's just so many different types of flavours and aromas to suit anyone and everyone's palate.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just great .... I am hungry again and jsut wanna catch a flight to Bangkok now !!!

Thanks for sharing ... now I know where to go