Thailand is simply a great destination for food, cool people, great scenery and crowded beaches. Whoops, we were all positive to start with…
I flew into Bangkok for the first time since 2018 and was curious to see how Covid treated one of my favorite countries. Long story short, Thailand took a licking but keeps on ticking. Many of my favorite places are closed permanently but people are very upbeat.
I usually stay on Soi Rambuttri, near Khao San Road. Busy but not too crazy. My hotel (Rambuutri Inn) was short staffed and one of the two pools was closed but the people were positive. Cafe was busy which is good. I ordered a basic Southern Thai dish, Massaman Gai (Musselman/Muslim Chicken). It was bland and had little in the way of chicken, peanuts or potatoes. Disappointing start.
So the next morning i went around the corner to Khun Daeng, a Vietnamese noodle place i have visited over the years. Its specialty is VN soup with noodles, sausage, pork balls, braised pork and quail egg. Very rich and very inexpensive and they delivered the goods! Love this dish and these people!
The next day i was in the mood for congee so i walked down to Jok Prince. Not sure why but they told me “Food all out, no food”. I was bumming, i was way hungry plus they were serving bowls of Jok left and right.
So i kept on walking and hit Ek Teng Phu Ki for Thai Iced Coffee and toast. Love this place! The coffee is really good and the toast is addictive! I also had some fairly good pork dumplings there, but the coffee and toast ruled the roost.
Later on i hit Phra Sumen road twice, once for a simple breakfast at KC. A light egg omelet with vegetables and sweet chili sauce hit the spot nicely.
For lunch i ventured up the block a few yards to the Red Pork street stall. I got the Red Pork Soup w noodles and wontons, just delicious! This is the third or fourth trip i have ordered from this lady (and her husband?) and it is always great and a bargain too! The Thai Baht is 35 to the USD, so i spent less than $2US on a very nice meal.
On a different day i took the Chao Phraya Express boat down to Sathorn and walked to Sui Heng where Peter mentioned he really liked the Hainanese chicken. It is served lightly poached, chopped and served over rice with hot clear chicken soup as a starter. Love this dish! Very straightforward simple seeming prep but that makes the chicken really stand out. And it comes with a chili sauce that is not over bearing that complements the dish nicely. I will be back.
These pictures are making me really hungry!! Also, thanks for the non-food pictures, they really set the scene nicely.
20 years + 2 months ago, I met a girl at the Pig n’ Whistle in Taipei. Our stars aligned and sparks flew. As fate/destiny would have it, we were both already scheduled to be in Thailand in two weeks.
We hooked up in Bangkok. We wandered the streets and talked and laughed. We stumbled into a grilled salt crusted fish at a local fair, shared a busy pedestrian sidewalk with multiple elephants on a Saturday night, cruised a river market at the break of dawn.
We fell in love. I proposed. We were married in front of then SF mayor Willie Brown’s office five months later.
A smile and warm feelings well up whenever the topic or thought of Thailand comes up. Your descriptions and photos trigger so many warm memories. Thanks!!!
Land of Smiles indeed.
What a great “origin” story!!!
May’s Kitchen Koh Lanta, Fried Ice Cream
Fried Ice Cream? Sounds like one of the more offbeat state fair treats!
What was it like?
Actually, it was quite good, with a crunchy exterior, cold creamy interior and a bit of chocolate sauce.
So i stayed at the Sea Seeker Hotel in Ao Nang. Not one of the front desk people thought the logo was amusing.
Is it just me?
Had two versions of Massaman Gai, one amateurish with barely cooked potatoes, the second better prepared but under spiced.
It finally dawned on me that many of my favorite Thai dishes over the years were served to me AFTER the cook had served me a couple dishes, each increasingly spicey.
This was bland… Look at the edges of the potatoes in these two shots. The second dish was better.
Better, but not quite right.
These were nicely done!
This fish dish almost got it right.
So are you a human of the sea now??
And i much prefer being a “Sea Seeker Hotel: Human of the Sea” rather than a can of Chicken of the Sea!
I do not think that particular brand of tuna fish is sold in Thailand because not one of the desk staff understood what i was asking about.
I finally arrived on a small Thai island that is not all that heavily touristed. Got a bungalow overlooking the Andaman Sea at hight tide and an immense mud flat at low tide.
And promptly got laid low with a vicious cold.
Mama, the matriarch of the family operation has been super sweet giving me hot lemon tea. But i have just been exhausted. Reading “Whispers Underground” and lounging.
Penang Shrimp, delicious but cook left way too much shell for me to peel. I was a mess at the end of the meal.
Som tom and chicken curry. The som tom was really good, though i asked for just 2 mouse shit chilis so it was fairly mild. If i get it again i will ask for 4. It wasn’t pounded in a mortar and pestle so it was not done “just so” but it was still good.
Yellow noodles w chicken.
I think this is the Penang Shrimp before the som tom arrived. Not sure.
My dawn walk.
A bit of “foodie history” for me. Back in 1994 i traveled to Bophut Beach on Ko Samui. Bophut was still pretty simple, i rented a 6’ by 8’ thatch shack for 40 Baht, shower and toilets were shared. It was pretty nice, the mosquito net did not have any large holes.
Every morning i would get up and walk the beach watching the sun come up and around 8 am an older woman with a push cart would mosey on by, offering som tom, sticky rice and satay chicken thighs. She always asked how many mouse shit peppers you wanted so if you got it too hot it was on your head.
I steadily ordered it hotter and hotter until i got to 8 or 9 chilis. Forehead sweat but no neck sweat.
We would chat as she added ingredients (15 or 20 if memory serves) and stirred then pounded the papaya mix in the mortar and pestle. Unbelievably delicious!
Shortly before i left Ko Samui i asked her how many mouse shit peppers SHE used in HER som tom. She burst out laughing so loud people 50 yards away looked at her and smiled.
Then she took a handful (20? 25?) of mouse shit chilis and made herself a serving of som tom and squatted next to me as we ate our meals. She gave me a tiny bit of her ST with a bunch of sticky rice, it was like eating delicious lava.
My bungalow view.
My cold is getting a bit better but i think i should be at the Australian Consulate in Phuket first thing Monday so i am leaving here in a couple hours. I am missing a lot by not staying longer. Rats.
So sorry you have been sick and so glad you are still reporting!!
Are they called mouse shit peppers because that’ what they look like?
They are called that for their size and shape more than color, i think.
Some Thai people claim they are named that because they like to hide in a dish but i have my doubts. LOL!
Prik kee noo is their Thai name.
Checked out of my bungalow. I miss Mama already!
I have been having problems getting my tourist visa to Australia so i decided to get a speedboat to the mainland near Phuket, then work the phones trying to find out the best way to get the visa. Figured i would get a hotel halfway between the airport and the Australian Consulate in Phuket. So i stayed at the Moonlight Cottage in Bang Rong and was the only farang in town apparently. Nice place, by the way. Immaculate, good ac and cheap.
Being a bit on the peckish side, i visited a young ladies cafe on the driveway of her home that consisted of 3 small/medium tables and an outdoor stove/kitchen counter under an awning. Plus a sweet smiling woman and two stand-off’ish cats.
I had a bit of trouble ordering so i opted for Gai, sticky rice and Som Tom. And i got the best meal i have had on this trip! She brought me a little finger bowl with half a lime (i sincerely pray it was a finger bowl…) so i washed my hands and set it aside.
She then brought a small plate of grilled chicken, a large serving of som tom, sticky rice, cabbage, cucumber slices and long beans. Oh, my goodness! It was delicious! I tucked in and WORKED on those plates! I looked up half way through to get a breath of air and she was looking at me like i was doing something right so i went back to work on that som tom.
There is something about eating good food that makes it even more satisfying when the cook enjoys watching you enjoy it.
220Baht if memory serves. Outstanding food!
Stand off’ish cat after i ran out of chicken to feed it.
My grocery store essentials.
Almost everyone likes a speed boat trip.
And i think my visa application has a good chance of being accepted. I needed to download an app for that…
Can i get an “Arghhh!!”??
Living the LIFE!!!
Homey in the boat on the left… not so much…
Yeah, the poor dude on the speed boat was hating life at that moment.
I hadn’t thought about it, but i think you are right, he was pretty close to “Aarrgghhh!!!'ing” all over the deck when i took the photo.
And i got my visa approved so i will not have to eat the train ticket across Australia i bought last week. Whew! Three days on the Indian Pacific Railroad is not everyones cup of tea but i am a bit of a train fan.
And i found a really nice Thai cafe near the Phuket Airport. Seafood in a red curry sauce, not sure what that is in Thai but on a plate it is delicious! And again i was the only Farang in the place. I think i am seeing a certain correlation between “no other Westerners nearby” and “excellent Thai food”. I believe more research is needed.
This is my adagium when in Thailand… Go where the locals go. Although it’s sometimes difficult if you are in a very touristy area.
And this is why I love Phuket - the island is large enough for it to have a big local economy.
One of my favourite restaurants in Phuket, is the one where I once bumped into the cleaning lady of my hotel room, where she was having dinner with her husband and children. It’s Sunset Restaurant in Thalang.
My last couple of days in Thailand i got a nice mixed seafood w glass noodles at Sea-U near Phuket’s airport, then watched the rain PELT down for an hour. The rain was ok but the lightning strike on the sign down the block was a real jolt! We lost power for 30 minutes but my food and beer were already on the table so i was good to go.
Then i hit a real locals curry shop, Rick 11, but this one was only fair. Good chicken curry, albeit boney. The brown egg dish i could not identify. Egg was good, not great, tofu so-so.
Then i had a thoroughly pedestrian braised pork, not much in the way of egg, very fatty and no greens to speak of. Not even the same dish as “The Cowboy Hat Lady” in Chiang Mai. I love that operation. It may not be the best braised pork leg, but it is pretty good plus the side dishes and the show are all excellent. LOL!
Heng Heng’s seafood red curry was the winner of my “Phuket Airport South Sweepstakes”, if there was such a thing.
I am at the airport and hope to be in Sydney tomorrow. But the flight is already two hours late…
We will see.
I did not get out much this past week but i am feeling a lot better so Sydney sounds really good right now!