Jump to content


Welcome to the eG Forums!

These forums are a service of the Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to advancement of the culinary arts. Anyone can read the forums, however if you would like to participate in active discussions please join the Society.

Photo

Restaurants and food stalls in Bangkok


  • Please log in to reply
143 replies to this topic

#31 ecr

ecr
  • participating member
  • 328 posts
  • Location:Malaysia

Posted 14 September 2003 - 08:42 PM

Frankly when it comes to food in Bangkok, if you must eat "elegantly" then you will sacrifice in terms of quality. I have nothing at all against upscale, but my experience in Bangkok is that you must choose --- mediocre, occasionally pretty good, and also quite often pretty bad, in upscale surroundings OR incredible mind-blowing flavors in surroundings that vary from on-the-street (literally) to just-regular-decor restaurant. When we lived in Bangkok it just got to the point where if we wanted upscale surroundings we resigned ourselves to NOT eating Thai.

Upscale Thai restaurants outside of hotels that come to mind are Cafe Siam, Siam Elephant (Sathorn Soi 1), Blue Elephant, Baan Khanitha (2 branches). Blue Elephant is at least in a lovely restored building and I had a salmon laab there once that was quite fine. Cafe Siam unacceptably mediocre esp. given the prices (and a piddling selection of Thai dishes), Siam Elephant has some great dishes (deep-fried softshell crab in black pepper sauce, a couple of the curries, and ALL the salads -- and the ice creams) and the rest, appetizers esp, are sub-par. Though this place would not be on a par, in terms of atmosphere, with the places you mention in your post. Baan Khanitha consistently mediocre, not bad not great.

For upscale in hotels I vote for Celadon at the Sukhothai.

But if you really want really good Thai food you need to go downmarket a bit. Thais who eat "elegantly" usually do so at private dinner parties (having a maid who often cooks is not at all uncommon for middle class and wealthier Thais) and at restaurants serving other, usually Western, cuisines. And all Thais place a premium on taste and quality --- so more often than not when a wealthy Thai wants to eat Thai you'll find him or her in a favorite open-air noodle hut or modest restaurant.

#32 branch

branch
  • participating member
  • 51 posts
  • Location:Sacramento

Posted 14 September 2003 - 09:27 PM

Quite honestly this is rather easy....

Just wander the streets, if you don't want to eat food from hawker stalls (see 101023049 threads about this) look for restaurants.... err how do I describe this... basically carved out of the base of large concrete buildings.

Look for:

1) Enough flourescent lighting to give you an artificial tan.
2) Nasty faded posters on the walls (special bonus if it's the Coca Cola poster of the last Miss Thailand that won Miss Universe about 10 years ago... Porntip something... always seemed to be a common factor for places like this that I have had great meals in... look for the crown).
3) Tons of Thais inside. Thai people will downright refuse to eat at a restaurant where the food is not really really good, at least when it comes to Thai food. All bets are off when it comes to other places coughPLANETHOLLYWOODcough.

Don't know whether this is more downmarket than you are thinking, but trust me, it works.

edit: Forgot the most important part... that the restaurant is actually walled in at the front (you know, doors and windows and a/c... for a lot of Thais, that's considered elegant enough)/

Edited by branch, 14 September 2003 - 09:32 PM.


#33 jrufusj

jrufusj
  • participating member
  • 382 posts
  • Location:London, England

Posted 14 September 2003 - 09:35 PM

I would agree with "ecr" that the best Thai food is not to be found in elegant surroundings. In fact, I am not a great fan (except for occasional special events) of royal Thai cuisine. Everyday food, however, is as good as any food anywhere.

There are literally thousands of great places under bridges, on the banquette, anywhere else you look. Fortunately for you, there are also some good indoor restaurants, though they are only ordinary in decor.

Saturday evening, I had dinner with friends at one of my favorite restaurants of this type. The Orient is a restaurant in Sukhumvit Soi 49 (right where the road does the S bend). It is reasonably attractive, very reasonably priced, and of excellent quality. I particularly recommend:

- soft shell crab stir-fried with garlic and black pepper (bpu nim tod gratiem prik thai)
- crabmeat in a yellow curry sauce (bpu pat pong kari)
- any soup, but especially dtom klong with bpla krob (this is a spicy sour soup with crispy fish that I like better than dtom yam)
- a crispy morning glory salad that is to die for (yam phak bung krob)
- fried crumbled catfish salad with green mango relish (yam bpla duk foo with yam mamuang priaow)

Everything I've had there has been very good.

Also, I really like Taling Pling, which is in a soi off of Silom behind the Indian temple. My favorite thing there is the stir-fried gourd leaves (pak damlung) with minced pork (moo sap).

Again, you really will eat best if you just head out into the streets, but you should be very well fed at either of these.

Oh, one other thought. By far the best Isaan/Lao food comes from the street, but for an introduction, you could do much worse than Vientiene or Baan Lao, both in Suk Soi 36 or 38 (can't remember which). Near there is Hualomphong Food Station, about which I have heard good things, but I haven't tried it. (Don't be confused and think this should be near the train station because of the name. Hualomphong train station and the restaurant are nowhere near each other.) These would be good places to try Isaan/Lao food for the first time, but only the streets will do you right.

If you haven't done it before, I would also recommend a trip out to Aw Dtaw Gaw, the major food market across the street from Chatuchak Market. Take your camera, as it's a great visual experience.

If you want more input, please let me know, but this should be a good start.

Take to the streets and enjoy,

Jim
Jim Jones
Tokyo, Japan

Never teach a pig to sing. It only wastes your time and frustrates the pig.

#34 Episure

Episure
  • participating member
  • 977 posts
  • Location:Bangalore - INDIA

Posted 15 September 2003 - 05:20 PM

And in addition to all the other's recommendations, you might also want to try the 6th floor Food Center at MBK. A mind boggling array of food in one location.

Personally I would eat the street food or at the small thai restaurants where the locals eat. It does take me 2 days to get used to the level of Chilli heat.
I fry by the heat of my pans. ~ Suresh Hinduja
http://www.gourmetindia.com

#35 ecr

ecr
  • participating member
  • 328 posts
  • Location:Malaysia

Posted 15 September 2003 - 08:19 PM

jrufusj --- do try Hualomphong Station, IMO it's on the same level as the other Lao/Issaan places.
Another recommendation (not sure if this is appropriate as the OP wanted upscale surroundings but...) --- for lunch, the tented food market down the soi directly behind the Sindhorn Building (Wireless Road, next to the US embassy). Just follow the crowds of office workers around noon. Graze to your heart's delight, and if you're lucky the 2 ladies selling young coconut pie will be in attendance.

#36 cwyc

cwyc
  • participating member
  • 103 posts

Posted 24 September 2003 - 11:14 AM

I will be in Thailand next montha nd am anticipating trying out many of the restaurants patroned by locals as well as street food. How easy is it to order food and understand what's going on if I don't speak the language? In particular, I am very interested in eating at the street food stands but I am concerned that I may not understand or be able to converse with the merchants. Any advice?

#37 jrufusj

jrufusj
  • participating member
  • 382 posts
  • Location:London, England

Posted 24 September 2003 - 09:42 PM

I will be in Thailand next montha nd am anticipating trying out many of the restaurants patroned by locals as well as street food.  How easy is it to order food and understand what's going on if I don't speak the language?  In particular, I am very interested in eating at the street food stands but I am concerned that I may not understand or be able to converse with the merchants.  Any advice?

cwyc:

Please don't be intimidated. You'll find it's all much easier than you think.

One recommendation I would make is to look for a book with a title that is something like Thai Hawker Food. If you can't find it before you get to Thailand, you should be able to find it at any Bookazine, Asia Books, or Kinokuniya bookstore in Bangkok. Asia Books is ubiquitous, so you should be close to one of their shops no matter where you may be staying.

The book is slim...maybe 60 to 80 pages...white softcover with graphic art type decoration...relatively small size...but not quite small enough to fit in your back pocket.

The book isn't perfect, but it does a good job of surveying the major street foods, along with giving Thai names and a few tricks for identifying what kinds of food each vendor is likely to have (by the arrangement of the vendor's stall or the apparatus the vendor uses).

Once you get that far, all you really need to do is point. To be perfectly polite, you can say "Kaw (insert name of food) noi khrap." Replace the word khrap with kha if you are female. I'll not try to describe tones, as vendors will get what you mean even without the right tones, as long as you keep your vocabulary and sentence structure simple. Context goes a long way.

On the other hand, when you order coffee, you would say "sai nom" to ask for milk to be put in. However, if you say it with the wrong vowel length and tones, it can also mean "shake your breasts". Don't worry, when a foreigner makes an effort at Thai, it is very much appreciated and no one will be offended.

If this weren't a family forum, I'd tell you about the first time a bunch of young male Thai office workers took a business trip to Tokyo and were taught to order coffee in Japanese. That was a shocked group of young men!

Enjoy,

Jim
Jim Jones
Tokyo, Japan

Never teach a pig to sing. It only wastes your time and frustrates the pig.

#38 ecr

ecr
  • participating member
  • 328 posts
  • Location:Malaysia

Posted 24 September 2003 - 09:46 PM

It is *very* easy to get along in Thailand without Thai if you set aside your worries and, perhaps most important, smile. Thais are, in general, some of the most welcoming people and earth and they love to see farang (that's you -- a foreigner) enjoy Thai food! When buying food on the street (or anywhere that there's no English menu, for that matter), just smile and point, hold up your fingers to show quantity, and smile. If the vendor asks something and you don't understand him or her, shrug and smile. Esp. on the street, no mistake will be too costly --- a stick of muu yang (grilled pork) will set you back only 5 or 7 baht.
Many restaurants have English menus --- otherwise smiling and pointing works well there too.
Relax and enjoy yourself in one of the world's food hotspots (IMO).

#39 cwyc

cwyc
  • participating member
  • 103 posts

Posted 26 September 2003 - 10:19 AM

I was just looking for the book on amazon and didn't find it there. Did find however, a book called Vatch's Thai Street Food. Have you seen this one before? Is it worth getting?

#40 jrufusj

jrufusj
  • participating member
  • 382 posts
  • Location:London, England

Posted 26 September 2003 - 06:25 PM

I was just looking for the book on amazon and didn't find it there.  Did find however, a book called Vatch's Thai Street Food.  Have you seen this one before?  Is it worth getting?

cwyc:

When I wroter the last note, I was in Tokyo. I'm now back in Seoul in my library. The exact name of the book I recommended is Thai Hawker Food. No specific author is credited. The book was published in 1993 in Thailand by Book Promotion & Service Ltd.

The telephone number for international sales is 662/375-2685~6. However, this is a very old number and may not work any more. I expect that you may have to purchase this book in Thailand.

Unfortunately, I don't know the other book you have mentioned.

Good luck,

Jim
Jim Jones
Tokyo, Japan

Never teach a pig to sing. It only wastes your time and frustrates the pig.

#41 ecr

ecr
  • participating member
  • 328 posts
  • Location:Malaysia

Posted 28 September 2003 - 06:30 PM

I was just in Bangkok and the book is very easily available there. For instance, at Bookazine (many branches), Asia Books (many branches), Kinokuniya in the Emporium. Many hotel gift shops also have it --- in the past I've seen it in gift shops at both Marriotts, the Shangri-la, the Hyatt Erawan, the Regent ....
I would say that, as a reference by which to familiarize yourself with street foods in Bangkok you'd be much better off investing in the Lonely Planet World Food (Thailand) than Vatch's. (also the former is almost pocket-sized)
And an even better way is to take yourself, on your first day in Bangkok, to a market that has almost everything, like Dalat Aw Taw Kaw (already mentioned by jrurusj).

#42 jrufusj

jrufusj
  • participating member
  • 382 posts
  • Location:London, England

Posted 28 September 2003 - 06:53 PM

I would say that, as a reference by which to familiarize yourself with street foods in Bangkok you'd be much better off investing in the Lonely Planet World Food (Thailand) than Vatch's. (also the former is almost pocket-sized)


I own the Lonely Planet World Food guide for Japan. Bought it when I first started travelling there a couple of years ago. I've learned a lot from it, though it doesn't go into tremendous depth. I also gave the Thailand version to my parents before their visit to Bangkok and they enjoyed it very much. As a starting point for getting familiar with Thai Food, it would be quite helpful.

The advantage of Thai Hawker Food is that it gives some clues to using the food vendors -- where they are concentrated, how to recognize the kinds of things they are selling, etc.

The two books in combination would be a great start.

And an even better way is to take yourself, on your first day in Bangkok, to a market that has almost everything, like Dalat Aw Taw Kaw (already mentioned by jrurusj).


I know I mentioned it before, but I can't recommend Aw Dtaw Gaw (or Aw Taw Kaw) highly enough. It is probably the best place in all of Thailand to see a concentration of great fresh ingredients, as well as prepared foods. Any hotel concierge or taxi driver should be able to help you get there. If you want to do it on your own, I would recommend picking up a copy of Nancy Chandler's map of Bangkok. This should give you a clear picture. It also has a good map of Chatujak market itself. Finally, it is probably the best map in terms of clarity and focusing on the attractions and areas that are most likely to appeal to visitors or foreigners newly resident in Bangkok. My wife and I keep a large stack around to give out to friends who will be visiting Bangkok for the first time.

Enjoy your trip,

Jim
Jim Jones
Tokyo, Japan

Never teach a pig to sing. It only wastes your time and frustrates the pig.

#43 mongo_jones

mongo_jones
  • legacy participant
  • 2,228 posts

Posted 21 November 2003 - 08:40 PM

hi all,

i'll be stopping bangkok for a day on my way to india next month. will only have time for one lunch and dinner. where should i go? money is, unfortunately, an object--so no high-priced recommendations please.

thanks!

#44 anniewood

anniewood
  • participating member
  • 5 posts

Posted 21 November 2003 - 09:09 PM

If you're prepared to eat like the locals do, nothing in Bangkok is expensive. I have two favorite places.
First, an Issan restaurant called Krua Rommai, 16 Sukhumvit soi 36 (take the Skytrain to Thong Lo; soi 36 has a Shell service station on the corner and the restaurant is a short walk down the soi). Tel: 02-661-2340. Open: Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. You'll eat for less than US$10 here easily but it doesn't take credit cards. Amazing barbecued chicken with sticky rice, really interesting greens. Larb, the finely chopped, really spicy salad with chicken or pork and ground roasted rice. Eggplant in a spicy and sour sauce. And the orm, a hot curry with fish.
Second, Rut & Lek, at the intersection of Yaowarat and Soi Texas (Yaowarat is a one-way road through Chinatown. Soi Texas, home to the Texas parking garage, comes in from the right. Rut & Lek is on the far corner as you head in the direction of the traffic.) Open: daily, 6:30 p.m. to 2:45 a.m. Three people can stuff themselves for $25, including beer. (Again, no credit cards). This is all seafood -- barbecued fish cooked in aluminum foil with a herby paste; amazing giant shrimps; great tom yum (it's hot though! really hot!) and crab fried rice that is divine etc

#45 mongo_jones

mongo_jones
  • legacy participant
  • 2,228 posts

Posted 22 November 2003 - 12:02 PM

thanks for the recommendations--now i guess we have to figure out how to get around the city. i have no idea what hotel the airline is going to put us up at or where it is.

scrolling down, i see there's been a recent thread on bangkok eateries. unlike the original poster there i'm not interested in elegant surroundings, but it sounds like the same advice might apply to me. walk around, try the hawkers and eat where there seem to be lots of thais.

i'm also intrigued by episure (a fellow regular on the india board) noting that it takes him two days to adjust to the heat level of the food. i don't know if this is because he is an effete mumbaikar :smile: or whether it will be the same story for a bengali and a korean--we only have the one day anyway, so we're just going to plunge in and hope for the best. i do know that thai food in india is exponentially hotter than thai food in the u.s.a. did anyone here eat at baan thai at the oberoi, delhi when it first opened in the early 90s? i remember bring startled by how hot the salads were.

at any rate my digestive tract will get the shock to its system a day early--if it wasn't for the fact that we get to kolkatta in the middle of the night i'd stop for a mutton roll on the way home, and follow it up with a couple of fresh roshogullas and lots of syrup. oh man, i wish i were leaving tonight.

#46 ecr

ecr
  • participating member
  • 328 posts
  • Location:Malaysia

Posted 23 November 2003 - 08:08 PM

Food in Bangkok -- my favorite topic in the whole world. :rolleyes:

To maximize tasting given your limited time, you must definately have lunch (closed for dinner) at Dalat Aw Taw Kaw where you can sample all sorts of exceedingly well-prepared goodies for very little money. Here's how to get there: take the BTS (skytrain) to the end of the line at On Nut (where Chatuchak Market is). Follow the signs at the skytrain and head towards Chatuchak (about a 10-minute walk). You will see the entrance to Chatuchak on your right --- keep walking until you get to the major intersection and turn right. Dalat Aw Taw Kaw will be up ahead on your left ... look for a parking lot and a covered market, that's it. (or ask Thais, always helpful, for directions).
Here you can sample the full spectrum of Thai tasties, from huge steamed prawns eaten with a dipping sauce of lime/fish sauce/chilis (2 for less than 100 baht); to grilled sausages (some of that Issaan food that a previous poster mentioned --- round ones are sour from fermented rice, long fat ones are spicy); to sakoo (sweet-savory rice flour dumplings with a filling of peanut, shrimp paste, pork, and eaten wrapped in a lettuce leaf with a sprig of coriander and raw chili); to a myriad of prepared curries and vegetables with rice; to grilled eggplant topped with the fish sauce-lime preparation above; to grilled fish; to muuyang (grilled pork with dipping sauce); to khanom (sweets, primarily) of all types. And much more. Look for khanom taan, which is made by only one vendor there --- small coconuty steamed cakes, not too sweet, topped with fresh shredded coconut. These are hard to find elsewhere in Bangkok. What you do is cruise the vendors lining the front of the market (nearest the street), make your purchases, and head to the interior of the market where there are tables surrounded by stalls doing all sorts of noodle and other dishes. Purchase a drink (perhaps Thai iced tea) from a vendor and most likely he or she or another will offer you a bowl and knife and fork to use to eat your goodies with. If you still have room by all means order a plate of guaytiaow laad naa (wide rice noodles with "gravy" which sounds so unexciting but it really is a wonderful dish) from the stall fronted by blue tiles. Anoint with vinegar, fish sauce, and chilis from the condiment tray, and enjoy.
You can probably stuff your face at Dalat Aw Taw Kaw for $5-7. Though the market is "upscale" compared to some others, the quality is truly excellent and the place is frequented by locals (albeit richer locals) far more than by tourists.

For dinner I would pursue Issaan food as another poster recommended, but I would head to Narathiwat Soi 24 for an open-air, truly Thai experience. Get a taxi (thy're not that expensive) from the Sala Daeng BTS station, instruct him to sto at Narathiwat Soi 24. Get out and retrace your journey back along Narathiwat (a big busy road) less than 1/4 of a block to the first grilled chicken and fish (you can't miss the grill) place you come to. It's a rather downmarket place but I've eaten here with never a problem so don't worry. Take a seat and order gaiyang krungdua (half a grilled chicken), somtam (papaya salad), khaoniaow (sticky rice), and, if you have the room, cimcum/jeemjum (Issaan-style hotpot). The dipping sauce for the chicken (the dark red stuff, not the sweet stuff) is out of this world. Without beer this feast will set you back about 4 US dollars. (Caveat: better on a Thu, Fri, Sat, or Sun night than on other weekdays).

If you can name your hotel and are concerned about getting around I can name closer places. But these two experiences will give you a very good sampling of the incomparable deliciousness of "real" Thai food.

#47 LJC

LJC
  • participating member
  • 292 posts

Posted 25 November 2003 - 03:07 PM

No need to worry about commuter expenses; I had a car and driver for $6/hr. As well my wife and I used the subway which although somewhat limited in range is very safe and fast and clean. The taxis are cheap as well but traffic gets really bad.

Food:
Too much for just two meals ahhhhhhh!!!!!

I found the street food to be fantastic; ranging from grilled skewerd meat (who knows what kind) to pad thai, rice, and especially these pan seared vegetable dumplings) This is a great way to have lunch all over Bangkok; you can visit temples, shop and eat at the same time.

If I could have only one dinner Bangkok there is no question that my favorite Rest. is the "Fish Market" out off of Sukhumvit around soi 16 if I remember. This is an amazing seafood restaurant that you will never forget. (I have been to Bangkok 3 times for a total of 7 days and I have eaten here 3 times) Essentially it is a fish market with just about every kind of fresh sea delight you can imagine. You take a shopping cart and pick out your fish, crab, lobster, etc. then your vegetables, bread and fruit and proceed to the check out register. Then you take your cart to your assigned table and the waiter asks how you would like them to prepare you choices. You can not go wrong! Definitely have lobster in yellow curry, morning glories in oyster sauce, garlic bread and I swear every single sauce I tried was great.
My best experience was on business, we were 8 people and we tried about 12 diff dishes. I then returned to Thailand with my wife and we loved it so much that we went twice. It is a bit pricey but how often are you in Bangkok, and as the local businessman who introduced me says it is "the best". Plus if you eat on the street for lunch you will only spend a couple of dollars.

Have fun and enjoy a great city!

#48 katbert

katbert
  • participating member
  • 185 posts
  • Location:PHL, YEG

Posted 03 December 2003 - 09:34 AM

I just got back from BKK a few weeks ago and the most fun food for me was everything off the random carts on the street-- such as breakfast chinese donuts, corn in the waffles, charcoal grilled stuff on a stick, fruit such as yellow watermelon, longan, rambutan, pomelo, desserts like those little marshmallowfluff on top of the crispy waferlike cookies that resemble a sunnyside up egg, the purple taro frozen yogurt/ice cream. Also I admit that we did go to McDonald's for the chocolate dipped ice cream cone while we were in a mall checking email- the chocolate was pretty good.

kt

#49 ecr

ecr
  • participating member
  • 328 posts
  • Location:Malaysia

Posted 03 December 2003 - 08:30 PM

Yeah, streetcarts. Don't forget the guys/gals selling coconut ice cream (more sorbet-ish, actually). Some say these carts are dicey but I've not had a problem. Best best is probably to go to the ones mobbed by office workers around lunchtime on weekdays. A blob of coconut sticky rice topped by coconut ice cream topped by roasted peanuts --- unbeatable!

Aside--- some good locations to mix with the office crowds (these folks search out the best and best value): Wireless (Wittayu) Road across from the American Embassy; Soi Tonson behind the huge Sindhorn building on Wireless (there are several subsois with food and a big covered market with various vendors of tasty things); Soi Sala Daeng, betw. Sathorn and Silom --- another covered market with lots of food vendors and snacks; Soi Convent up near Silom and some vendors spilling onto Silom from that Soi; Sukhumvit Road across from Central Department Store.

#50 anil

anil
  • participating member
  • 1,492 posts

Posted 11 December 2003 - 02:22 AM

Getting late into this conversation: ecr has given you the jist of things, I'd just put a slightly different perspective - Open air dining - around Sangri-La Hotel just take a look at the stalls, see what catches your fancy and chow-away. Since I deduce that you ar not travelling solo, I'd not recommend to dine/drink at Sukhumvit Soi 4 or 22 :wink:

Another place is Makkasan Rd (very close by to all major hotels) where a few value-laden restaurants are to be found.

Edited by anil, 11 December 2003 - 02:23 AM.

anil

#51 ecr

ecr
  • participating member
  • 328 posts
  • Location:Malaysia

Posted 11 December 2003 - 08:46 PM

But anyone who avoids dining around Nana (Suk 4) will miss some of the best Lebanese food in SE Asia --- Al Ferdoss for fresh-out-of-the-oven Iraqi nan bread!

#52 pim

pim
  • participating member
  • 461 posts
  • Location:San Francisco

Posted 12 January 2004 - 11:05 PM

Food in Bangkok -- my favorite topic in the whole world. :rolleyes:

To maximize tasting given your limited time, you must definately have lunch (closed for dinner) at Dalat Aw Taw Kaw where you can sample all sorts of exceedingly well-prepared goodies for very little money. Here's how to get there: take the BTS (skytrain) to the end of the line at On Nut (where Chatuchak Market is).

Actually, Or Tor Kor and Jatujak Market is at the other end of the Skytrain line from On-nut. I believe the station is called Mor-chit. Or you can simply tell someone at the ticket counter that you are heading to Jatujak Market, they will point you to the right direction. I was just there last week.
chez pim
not an arbiter of taste

#53 mongo_jones

mongo_jones
  • legacy participant
  • 2,228 posts

Posted 15 January 2004 - 06:43 PM

okay, so i'm back. (my wife and i stopped in bangkok for a day en route to india from los angeles. )

so, we didn't (for complicated reasons) get to visit some of the more interesting recommendations here but we followed to the t the advice "find a restaurant with lots of thai people eating in it" and go eat there. so for lunch we were at this place near the world trade center (i should remember the name but it was a month ago and an orgy of over-eating back home has destroyed my long-term memory). we got a beef larb (excellent), a mixed sausage platter (also excellent), a pad thai (we wanted to see what a pad thai in thailand tasted like--not as sweet as the ones in los angeles) and finally we got something that was listed in the menu as "young bamboo shoots and prawns curry". the waitress looked at me doubtfully when i ordered it but in my folly i took this to be the standard dubious look aimed by all asians at foreigners ordering spicy food. so the curry arrives and first of all i notice that the placement of bamboo shoots before prawns in the name of the dish was not a mistake; there are but 4 prawns and many slices of bamboo shoots in the bowl. then, i notice the sharp, pungent aroma rising from the bamboo shoots. not to put too fine a point on it, they smell like ass. but then there are many things that smell like ass (or worse) but are delicious (such as jackfruit) so i blithely ladled a big spoonful of it onto a mound of rice and placed a heap of it in my mouth. it is difficult to know which sensation arrived first: the confirmation that in fact the dish did also taste like ass or the fact that my tongue was on fire. liberally applying beer to the affected area quelled the flames but the taste of ass lingered (i hasten to add here that i have little first hand knowledge of the taste of ass--this comparison is speculation on my behalf). nothing would make it go away. i tried eating the prawns alone, but they to were infused with the aroma and flavor of ripe ass. does any of this ring a bell? is this a local specialty of some sort? is this what young bamboo shoots taste like? or did i encounter some horrible mistake?

as for dinner--thanks to a screw-up with the airport transfer shuttle we had to eat at the hotel restaurant. sadly, i must report that even the food at the restaurant at a 3 star (at best) restaurant in bangkok was far superior to the best thai food i've eaten in the u.s.

we look forward to making a longer trip to thailand and eating a whole lot more--though this time i may stay away from dishes showcasing young bamboo shoots.

#54 ecr

ecr
  • participating member
  • 328 posts
  • Location:Malaysia

Posted 15 January 2004 - 07:52 PM

It was probably preserved bamboo shoots. I haven't really found that they taste like, um, ass :wacko: ... but it's certainly a strongly flavored ingredient. On future trips you might want to avoid, at Isaan and northern Thai restaurants, bamboo shoot salad (sup naw mai), as these goodies are the primary ingredient.
What color was the curry, did it have coconut milk in it, and was it very sour? It might have been a variation of sour curry (gaeng som), which also has a hefty dose of shrimp paste.
Yeah, even the food at the restaurant in the Amari Airport Hotel (actually attached to the airport ... worth the 500 baht departure fee if you've ever got a long layover in Bangkok) is quite good (and very spicy), much better than most Thai food I've had outside of Thailand.

#55 mongo_jones

mongo_jones
  • legacy participant
  • 2,228 posts

Posted 16 January 2004 - 09:09 AM

What color was the curry, did it have coconut milk in it, and was it very sour? It might have been a variation of sour curry (gaeng som), which also has a hefty dose of shrimp paste.

the curry was a dull brick red in color. and it had no coconut milk--at least not enough to make any impact on the spiciness or flavor of the dish.

#56 Stupid_American

Stupid_American
  • participating member
  • 250 posts
  • Location:Bangkok, Thailand

Posted 16 January 2004 - 06:57 PM

Although I've never percieved it as "ass", the smell of bamboo shoots is a bit off-putting.
I often smelled it around the numerous foodcourts in Bangkok.
But, until my wife cooked up some spicy chcken with bamboo shoots, I never realized the source.




Posted Image
For Bangkok eats, check out my Cheap Eats Bangkok

#57 cwyc

cwyc
  • participating member
  • 103 posts

Posted 23 January 2004 - 10:46 AM

Hi All:
Can you tell me what Issan is? I'm going to be in Bangkok in a couple of weeks and I'm gathering as much food knowledge as I can.
Thanks.

Edited by cwyc, 23 January 2004 - 10:47 AM.


#58 Stupid_American

Stupid_American
  • participating member
  • 250 posts
  • Location:Bangkok, Thailand

Posted 23 January 2004 - 09:36 PM

Issan is northern and eastern Thailand.
The cuisine has heavy Lao influences.
Kai yang (grilled chicken), somtam(papaya salad) and khao neow(sticky rice) is a classic Issan lunch.
It also features other grilled meats, sausages and curries.
One of the latest crazes is the khao soy metioned in the other post.
It's a Chiang Mai thing.

While in Bangkok, stop by MBK Center, at the National Stadium Skytrain Stop.
They have a huge foodcourt on the 6th floor.
It's a "tame" introduction to Thai hawker food.

For a great dinner cruise, book #3, Riverside Bangkok's.
For under 500 baht ($11), you'll have your fill of great food and a wonderful cruise.
It's the only cruise that cooks food to order, on board.
Drinks might set you back a little more.

On the same webpage is Yok Yor Marina, #12.
Here you will find great Thai/Chinese and a fantastic show, featuring traditional dance and martial arts.

If you want a place that's nice, but not pretenious, try Anna's Cafe, 118 Soi Saladaeng, Silom.
It's a bit of a "fusion" thing.
Their desserts are great!
Try the coconut ice cream with sweet sticky rice; simple but wonderful!

The real beauty of Bangkok dining is that you really don't need to "know" the cuisine.
The best food is always the hawker stalls that line the streets everywhere.
They always cook what they cook best.
Simply follow your nose.

Like I said, hit MBK foodcourt first.
After you realize that you can survive this type of food, hit the streets and sample the really great stuff.

Have a blast!

Edited by Stupid_American, 23 January 2004 - 09:37 PM.

For Bangkok eats, check out my Cheap Eats Bangkok

#59 WHS

WHS
  • participating member
  • 384 posts
  • Location:Amherst, New Hampshire

Posted 02 May 2004 - 04:26 PM

When I was a teenager in Bangkok back in the '70's, there was a restaurant that was famous for roast duck served hacked up with white rice. It was frequented by cabinet ministers and cab drivers... does anyone remember what I'm talking about, and is there someplace like this still around? I'm going back in December and already dreaming about the food...tell me where you eat!

#60 HKDave

HKDave
  • participating member
  • 739 posts
  • Location:Hong Kong

Posted 03 May 2004 - 07:29 AM

There are still duck rice places in Bangkok. My favorite is the one beside the coffin shop on Soi On-Nut (aka Sukhumvit Soi 77). All they serve is duck rice and some dim sum. No air con, sorry I don't know the address - it's maybe a kilometre up from Sukhumvit on the left hand side of the soi, just past the coffin shop.

You may find that things in Bangkok have changed - a lot - since the '70s.

I did a longish Bangkok report on another board last year - http://www.chowhound...ages/19208.html
Most of the info is still valid. Hope nobody is offended by the link - those were my pre-eG days....
Hong Kong Dave

O que nao mata engorda.