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By Steven Li on 2007-06-24

June 23, 2007

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Okey doke, we’re off to Bangkok now! By the time we arrived in our hotel it was way past midnight, and I was hungry. So we hopped into a taxi in search of night market food. Traffic in Bangkok is crazy, and seems to only get worse as the night wears on. Our driver took us to this small street where I found this dish of cha kuay tieu. All concerns of not being able to order food due to language barriers wore off when I discovered a good percentage of the population speaks Teo Chew! I’m not fluent in Teo Chew, but know it well enough to carry on a decent conversation, and most importantly, order food :)

The noodles were just what I needed at the moment, flat, wide, slippery, salty with plenty of galan choi, slices of beef and egg. For a mere 5 baht more, the guy added a generous handful of chopped chicken feet into the dish.

Whereas the kuay tieu dishes I’ve had back home had a 80:20 ratio of noodles to veggies/meat/egg, this dish (and as I would soon discover, most stir fried and soup noodle dishes in Bangkok) has a much more agreeable 50:50 ratio.

But portions seem small to me cause I grew up in this sumo sized eating country called America. And I was still hungry. Two stalls further up the road was a group of guys hawking hainan chicken rice. And man did those fresh chickens look good! So I had an order.

My grandma and mom used to make this dish quite frequently at home and my favorite part was never the chicken, or the side dish of broth, it was always the rice. Wonderful things happen to rice in this dish. Instead of being cooked in plain water, fresh chicken broth is used along with ginger, garlic, and five spice. The end result is this fragrant, savory dish. The rice could be a meal on its own. I always find the side of cucumbers unnecessary, but then again, that’s just me. This dish also comes with a side of chicken broth, confidently seasoned and ‘finished’ with cilantro and a side of peppers. The steaming soup was given to use in a plastic twist tie bag that was mighty difficult to drink from (I’m surprised the bag didn’t melt!), but who is to complain? The chicken is less meaty, more juicy, and not soft like what my cousin calls, “American Chicken,” hahaha.

The next morning when I wandered into the airtrain station I found…

…waffles!

I didn’t come all the way to Bangkok to eat waffles, but you must believe me, the smell was so intoxicating I couldn’t help from purchasing three pieces. They were all different flavors, of course: the original plain (with a touch of honey), maple, and sesame seed & salt.

My favorite of the trio was definitely the sesame seed & salt. It had the awesome, ‘dessert but a little salty’ vibe found in all my favorite Asian sweets. The waffle’s deep grooves were especially efficient at harboring the wealthy of white sesame mixed with coarse salt. If only the breakfast places back home would serve something like this. Not too much to ask for, right?

We lunched at the basement of the Siam Paragon, which is pretty much a (slightly) more sanitary version of the outdoor food markets. We liked this basement so much that we ended up coming here for either breakfast or lunch three days in a row. Don’t worry, we did more exciting stuff during dinner time.

It was at this basement when I had my favorite dish of pad thai throughout the trip. I had pad thai in restaurants, the night markets and various street stalls, but only this dish reached my ideal balance savory and sweet. There was a good mix of tofu, chicken, green onions, bean sprouts, and egg, the sauce was relatively light, not sopping wet and sugary like what I often find back home.

I split an order of boiled clams with my mom. The clams are boiled just so that they are safe to eat, but still raw enough so that fresh blood drips out as you rip them from the shell in a dip into a chili based, vinegar and sugar dip. No matter how big the order, you gotta eat them quick, they’re no good once cooled.

My parents developed an obsession with this dish here. I can’t remember the name of the noodle soup, but is consisted of triangular shaped noodles. They looked like small white pyramids in a dark sweet broth, with a vinegary tang, completed with cubes of pig’s blood, a variety of fishballs and meatballs, tripe and intestines.

For dessert I had this crepe/pancake like object. It was my least favorite dessert of the trip, though it was intriguing to see how they utilize the egg yolks and whites separately in the dessert. The orange strands in the middle are egg yolks topped with raisins, and beneath that is a mound of meringue. Crazy, yeah?

My favorite food item of the day, perhaps even more than the sesame seed and salt waffle was a container of durian sticky rice! I love durian to bits and pieces. And in every single form possible: durian ice cream, durian candy, durian gum. But of course, the best form of durian is au natural. Unless. Unless it comes fresh, on a mound of steamed sticky rice with liberal quantities of fresh coconut cream soaking into every open crevice, and a dash of toasted sesame seeds. After this first container, I decided that my motto for the rest of the trip would need to be, “learn to share,” lest I insist on putting on another 20 pounds.

Which is why I glady accepted my sister’s offer to share part of the pandan toast, essentially a thick slice of bread toasted and buttered to death before a slather of warm kaya jam. Thick enough to save itself from sliding off the bread, but still oozy enough to resemble some alien non-food object.

Well I have to leave for dinner now, but I’ll be back soon enough to finish the post! :)



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