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Peter Green

Travelogue: Back in the Big Mango

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June 24 – Jok’s Kitchen

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I’d been hearing about this place for some time. There had been the write-up in the Post, and then I started bumping into folks that had been here for a business dinner or something, and then one of my friends (we’ll call her “M”) had dinner there a few weeks back and loved it.

Jok is a very affable man, and likes to chat with his patrons after he’s done in the kitchen. Given that M is equally affable, they hit it off very well. As Jok had been in the crab business, and had traveled extensively in the Southern Seas - with a lot of time in the Indonesian archipelago – the two of them hit it off famously.

So, when she told me that she could arrange to get us in when I came to Bangkok, I jumped.

I jumped quite high, in fact.

Thus, on the 24th, we were scheduled for lunch in Yaowarat, at Jok’s Kitchen, a restaurant that has broken out of the hidden circle of word-of-mouth to be reknown for Chinese (Teochieu) seafood in Bangkok.

The best way to do this is to treat it as a table de chef. Jok knows a lot better than us what he can do well, and I see no reason not to trust him in this (I’m not as stupid as I look. It’d be pretty hard, actually) You don’t want to do a meal like this with a small group. So both M and I put the word out, and soon had a respectable throng of eight, including two of her Japanese friends (which is always a bonus, they are always excellent table companions); an expatriate American with a sense of humour as dry as a good martini; my friend the director, Paul, fresh off an interesting American film here (but we’re sworn to secrecy); Nick, who’d just come in from assignment in Nigeria (and deserved a good meal); and our own Flying Rat, Ellen, who’s come to rest in Krungthep for the next little while (lucky!).

Eight is a good number.

The first adventure, of course, is getting this number of people in one place at the same time. It’s sort of a quantum physics thing. Five of us came down in one vehicle, parking as per the Bangkok Post's instructions at Wat Kanikopol, a wat with an interesting history, having been built in 1910 through the channeling of funds to make merit by prostitutes of the era. (It’s amazing what you can learn on the internet).

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From the parking lot the next feat was to work down Trok Issaranuphap. This is a narrow alley connecting Phlap Phla Chai and Charoen Krung. The reason it’s a feat is because of why it’s narrow. This alley is full of neat stuff to stop and drool over, but luckily we had a few level heads to keep us moving and on track (obviously, I was not one of the level ones).

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It’s good that one of us knew where we were going, as I was too busy rubbernecking to notice the little sign, which is all the notice you get. You enter through a narrow defile amidst the vendors, and then pass through the front room, with one table, through a back alley (and this is a real alley) and into another room fronting onto the kitchen, which has two tables in it.

And then you sit at a table.

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Then it was purely a matter of pulling the remaining diners in from the street as they wandered into the general orbit of Jok’s. Thank heavens for cell phones, as I remember how much fun this was in the distant past, posting lookouts in the heat to catch passersby. Sort of like watching for quark, strangeness, and charm in a particle accelerator.

Actually, I like the quantum physics analogies. Our table provided plenty of “charm”, and I can more than make up a fair share of strangeness. I’m just left wondering about “quark”……

Finally, everyone was in place.

The story in the Post covers the rapid expansion of the restaurant, but I’ll summarize it a bit here.

This started off with Jok cooking for his friends, with his business being the crab farming/distribution side of things. Then his friends brought their friends, and their friends brought their friends. Everything spread by word of mouth. At some magical point he decided he might as well make a business of it, as he really does love cooking. And he managed this while still retaining that passion.

He was a single table for ages, the one out front, until he finally added on the tables fronting the kitchen. As in the Post story, this is where we sat.

Many of the dishes we had matched those of the Post, which makes my writing a lot easier, except I didn’t realize it at the time and kept notes. Ah well, it’s good practice.

Jok doesn’t seem to mind people bringing things, in fact, I think you might need to have someone run next door if you do want something to cleanse the palate. I’d picked up a magnum of Moet & Chandon, and, barring a ship christening suddenly coming up, this meal seemed to me to be an appropriate venue.

(And they had a very nice ice bucket to handle it, too).

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I am one of those folks who believes that champagne goes with everything. And it was a pretty good match for what we would be eating today, as the flavours were all fairly rich and soft, rather than any sharp burns.

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Our first dish (in line with the Post description) was one of shrimp dumplings, topped with crispy fried garlic, fried shallots (crispy as well), and the mandatory sprinkling of spring onions. These were soft, soft, soft, and had a wonderful opening flavour for the meal, really filling out your mouth.

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And they go well with champagne. So there!

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Next was the snowfish. This came crisp on the outside, with a subcutaneous layer of fat that went marvelously with the crunch of the skin.

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Dress this with strands of red capsicum and a hint of sesame oil and soy, and the fish, rich and yielding, is something I will long remember (I can taste it now).

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Similar raves go for the duck. This was smoked (tea smoked?), and had a beautiful flavour. Going by the Post, this isn’t Jok’s work itself, but comes from his neighbor’s shop, which is famous for its duck.

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It had been warmed through, and the smell was perfect for me, with the background of game I so like in fowl.

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Jok’s fame, as we said, had come from his work as a crab man, and what he served was excellent. It looked to be four large “black” crabs that had been broken up and steamed, and then garnished with a handful of coriander to open up you nose against that wall of cholesterol you have with good crab.

I like crab. I particularly liked these crabs.

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Prawns, however, I can take or leave.

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But these were very good, crisp and sweet. I was just more interested in the ginko nuts and kale that formed the backdrop than I was with the prawns themselves.

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And the same sort of goes for the abalone. I appreciate that it’s “the thing” to have, and it was very good, with a nice crunch to the meat, but it was the mushrooms and the greens (was that gai lan? Crisp and refreshing) that I liked the most in this, with its rich soy based sauce.

Okay, the abalone was really good, too. I just prefer it as sashimi, I think. That’s just me. I noticed everyone else was quite happy with it.

In fact, everyone else was quite happy. This was a wonderful crowd to dine with. M is always the best of company, and we all shared a distinct love not only of food, but of movies (about food) and books (about food).

Okay, maybe food does play a big part.

And, as we were blessed with our two Japanese guests, we had more common elements, as I could blather on endlessly about my recent trip, while Ellen, Paul and the others are far more knowledgeable and can work up that web of linked topics that make for a good meal.

To take Sydney Greenstreet’s line from The Maltese Falcon “I’m a man who likes talking to men who like to talk”. And that goes double for women.

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And then there were more prawns, but of great importance there were more mushrooms. Lots more mushrooms, with plenty of mild red chili and spring onions to go along in this cheerful little dish.

How can you not look at this and smile?

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Don’t take my personal preferences on these last few as criticism. They’re just my tastes. I would comment that this meal, by dint of how it was being prepared, was perfectly staged for me. There was none of those piles of food all at once, most of which cools before you can taste it. While the servings were large, things were coming out at a sensible rate, and there was plenty of opportunity to taste things hot and fresh, at their best. As space was needed, the remains would be replated to make room, but that was okay.

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I can always enjoy crab, regardless of the temperature.

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Fried race came full of herbs, egg, and a garnish of capsicum. A good filler to even out the edges that weren’t already jammed with crab, prawns, fish, and abalone (and mushrooms! Never forget the mushrooms).

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And finally came the soup. This was a clear soup of fish and pork. This was very rich in the broth, which I had plenty of, with a solid peppery flavour that really made it stand out. There was a lot of crushed white pepper in there, and it made for a great finish.

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But, of course, we weren’t really finished. We had to do dessert. In this case ginko nuts in a syrup.

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I recall from the China trip that ginko nuts are good for the memory. Maybe that’s why so much of this meal still feels fresh to me.

With our table cooked for, and the second table already cleared out, Jok could sit at this office and check his paperwork. As his office is a one chair metal desk right beside our table, this gave us a good chance to chat, and thank him for the excellent meal.

And it was excellent. From all of his travels, and his work in supplying the industry with quality material, he’s come away with a vast array of cooking knowledge from across South East Asia. And to get that knowledge, you need to be, basically, someone people like, and want to share these things with. Jok is easy to like.

Jok’s a good man. We need more like him.

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Finally, lunch done, we made our way out through the side entrance and back to the street.

And the heat.

Next: Back On The Street

Note: With Ellen's permission, I've lifted a number of her pictures off of Flikr. You can spot them, as they're the good ones.

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Oh yeah! Now that is a MEAL! Wow I'm drooling again. *sigh* I need to go home *cry*

In fact, everyone else was quite happy. This was a wonderful crowd to dine with. M is always the best of company, and we all shared a distinct love not only of food, but of movies (about food) and books (about food).

Yup you definitely get your Egullet badge. Sounds like your companions might need a couple too. Hehehe I love this site!

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June 24 – Chinatown Submerged

There’s a feel to the alleyways of Chinatown in the midst of the noonday sun. This wasn’t Sam Pang -“Three Banks”; describing the oxbow in which it rests – where the Chinese merchants of fallen Ayutthya first settled, the palace then in Thonburi across the river. Nor was it Yaowarat central, the main drag, choked with vehicles and food stands. This was just a small alley connecting two streets, and so the tempo was quieter, softer.

Call it a “frantic languidness” and you might be getting close. Around us there was a bustle of industry, of getting things done, things prepared, things sold. But it was all happening as if in slow motion, or under water.

Given the humidity, and my degree of perspiration after only a few minutes outside of Jok’s, underwater may be the more precise term.

This can be a good thing, though, as it slows you down and has you stopping to look, listen and smell.

This was a good place for all three.

Like a reef offshore, there was food everywhere.

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There were bins of dried mushrooms, and cakes of seaweed piled up and settled.

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There were pork rinds, and things slowly floating in tubs of jaundiced water.

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And there was some of the most beautiful fried pork I’ve ever seen. I so wanted to buy a piece of this to snack upon, but the groaning restraint of my belt - like a skiff overloaded - suggested that that may not be a wise decision.

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We saw the younger brethren of the crabs we’d eaten, and sweet little shrimg spiraled out as if in some crustacean mandala.

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And more crispy rinds (pork, I would assume, as this is Chinatown) floating above another drift of mushrooms.

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Like cuttlefish, these stewing bladders slowly circulated, bobbing like corpses in a thickening broth, a sight that takes me back to Chengdu.

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And, as you came out of the alley into the direct sun, there were schools of fish in the sunlight.

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These pictures hardly touch upon the variety of shapes and sizes of fish to be had, all layed out in death in their shared bamboo coffins.

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And fruit, the smell of freshly cut mango and pineapple was mixed in with the tendrils of grilling pork and chicken from the vendors out here, and the motor exhaust from the cars now thronging the streets like sharks in the deeper water.

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We drifted back to the temple. This was fronted with the material for tham bun – “making merit” – prepacked sets for the support of the monks. Bright colours fascinating the eye.

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And finally a wrapped tree, the cloth hugging it like seaweed, home also to a spirit of its own, marked the entrance to the temple/parking lot and the airconditioned false environment of our car.

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I felt like the lizard on the cloth, or a diver under the water again. Wait patiently, but with eyes darting about.

A pleasant swim. A bit hot, and a bit humid, but as long as you don’t do something stupid, a day you can enjoy.

Next: Doing Something Stupid

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If I didn't know better I would say Peter you are a poet with pictures and words. I could almost feel the heat and languidness as I roamed the market with you.


Doddie aka Domestic Goddess

"Nobody loves pork more than a Filipino"

eGFoodblog: Adobo and Fried Chicken in Korea

The dark side... my own blog: A Box of Jalapenos

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Fried race came full of herbs, egg, and a garnish of capsicum.  A good filler to even out the edges that weren’t already jammed with crab, prawns, fish, and abalone (and mushrooms!  Never forget the mushrooms).

Wow, he actually fries whole races? With garnishes, at that! :laugh::raz:

I had read about Jok's some time ago, and thought I wanted to try it. But now I think I can give it a pass. It's not that the food doesn't look good, but it doesn't look good enough to go through the trouble of making a reservation a couple of months in advance, etc.

Boy, I really wish I had some dosa, though! :wink:

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Fried race came full of herbs, egg, and a garnish of capsicum.  A good filler to even out the edges that weren’t already jammed with crab, prawns, fish, and abalone (and mushrooms!  Never forget the mushrooms).

Wow, he actually fries whole races? With garnishes, at that! :laugh::raz:

I had read about Jok's some time ago, and thought I wanted to try it. But now I think I can give it a pass. It's not that the food doesn't look good, but it doesn't look good enough to go through the trouble of making a reservation a couple of months in advance, etc.

Boy, I really wish I had some dosa, though! :wink:

*falls off chair laughing* Um... I can just hear the conversation at the table.

"Hey Peter could you get me some of that fried race?"

"Sure. What would you like?"

"Uhh, a bit of Asian, Caucasian, and African. Oh, and just for fun, a couple Hispanics."

"Ok, here you go. Enjoy."

*roflmao*

Ok ok sorry Peter. Skin of a kwai, right? Hey at least I'm not the one poking at ya for food. :raz: You better be getting down to that dosa place dude. Patience is not a Thai girl on egullet's virture it seems. (j/k P!)

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Fried race came full of herbs, egg, and a garnish of capsicum.  A good filler to even out the edges that weren’t already jammed with crab, prawns, fish, and abalone (and mushrooms!  Never forget the mushrooms).

Wow, he actually fries whole races? With garnishes, at that! :laugh::raz:

I had read about Jok's some time ago, and thought I wanted to try it. But now I think I can give it a pass. It's not that the food doesn't look good, but it doesn't look good enough to go through the trouble of making a reservation a couple of months in advance, etc.

Boy, I really wish I had some dosa, though! :wink:

*falls off chair laughing* Um... I can just hear the conversation at the table.

"Hey Peter could you get me some of that fried race?"

"Sure. What would you like?"

"Uhh, a bit of Asian, Caucasian, and African. Oh, and just for fun, a couple Hispanics."

"Ok, here you go. Enjoy."

*roflmao*

Ok ok sorry Peter. Skin of a kwai, right? Hey at least I'm not the one poking at ya for food. :raz: You better be getting down to that dosa place dude. Patience is not a Thai girl on egullet's virture it seems. (j/k P!)

Hmmm.....fry up some white race?

Hmph! I let you people drink from the stream of consciousness, and you start complaining about blood in the water. :wacko:

Now, you're going to have to bear with me from this point forward. I returned home two days ago, and Scud showed up yesterday, so my writing is now filling those interstitial moments of the day. But I am working on things.

I dunno....dosa...do I remember something about dosas?

:biggrin:

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June 24 – “You! You! James Bond!”

The Lion’s Club was in town.

“Yeah, yeah, so what does that have to do with the price of tea in China?”

Well……..as pertains to me, quite a bit.

You see, I needed to get from my place at Asoke and Sukhumvit over to the Four Sesasons for dinner.

And Rachadamri would be closed off to traffic.

And the traffic would be a mess.

And I needed to wear a tux.

It was the tux part in particular that was getting to me.

I know, I know. “Who brings a tuxedo to Thailand?”

I do.

It comes in handy.

So, there I am. On the Skytrain, BTS, rot fai fa, whatever you want to call it, with my jacket over my sleeve and my bowtie askew. The trick is just to keep things under control, move slowly, and try to hold in the four gallons of perspiration that wants out.

And now I’m an overweight Sean Connery trying to look incongruous in the mass transit system as the crowd crane their collective head to get a better look at the fat farang to see when he melts.

To my credit, I almost made it through the side door of the hotel before the taps burst open.

It’s not a pretty picture. I think there was something like it in the first X-Men movie. Luckily, I had plenty of time, and used it to sponge down in the gents.

Somewhat more composed (or at least less dendritic), I made my way carefully into the lobby, and had a discussion regarding the forthcoming World Gourmet Fest in September. I now know pretty much how that wonderful week will pass, but I’m sworn to secrecy (for now).

My charming confidante walked me to Madison (where I’d brunched just days before) and was again in the midst of friends old and new.

I really like these dinners. You’re surrounded by people who live for food, and the chef – whoever is hosting – generally does a great job, as they know they’re cooking for people who are there for the food, as opposed to using it as a backdrop for a business meal.

My friend, M, and her husband were part of this great company. They’d both been with me at Vientiane Kitchen the night before; she’d organized lunch; and now they were back here for this evening.

We started with a Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs 2003, a nice sparkling number that jump started conversation. As we talked the staff brought about the appetizers. I’m sorry, but even I’m not crass enough to pull out a camera in the midst of company and shoot passing h’ordourves.

I did think about it, though.

For the nibblies, we had carrot cured salmon; prawn “salad” on dill croutons; chicken liver pate; and pate foie gras on a bit of toast with basil “caviar”.

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Our first course was Maine Lobster & Salmon Roe with Yuzu Marinade and Onion Ice Cream (and my apologies for the poor shot).

A beautiful dish. My only complaint, and it’s not a complaint, is that all of us were having so much fun with the onion ice cream that we hardly thought about the lobster and ikura that were there in the green jelly.

Serena and I both hold that any good meal should start with ice cream.

The wine with this was a Conundrum Sauvignon Blan-Muscat-Chardonnay-Viognier 2006

A word on the wines. Dana, from the Roadhouse, and Joe, from Pacific Cigar, had spent a lot of time pretasting in the days before, and then labouring over the wine selection. The menu raised eyebrows, as we generally lean to reds, and this was heavily canted to whites, but the Conundrum, one of Dana’s favourites, was a good choice as an opener, with that interesting blend of grapes.

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Our next course was Seared Scallops with Truffle Vinaigrette This was served with pretty little orange lumps of uni nestled amongst the scallops, which in turn rested upon a bed of leek. We pulled the leak apart in strands. There were little daubs of red tobiko (I think that’s what it was) and a mustard sauce distributed about.

The wine this time was Joseph Phelps Sauvignon Blanc 2005. This was, perhaps, the favourite white of the night for a lot of people (at least at our table).

Again, it was a good choice, working very well with the dry goodness in the seared scallops, and the rich fat of the uni.

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Next came our fish. Cod Fish Fillet, Walnut Herb Coated & Roasted Shallot Sauce To the side was some caramelized fennel. A pleasant enough bit of fish, but I do think I was spoiled by the snowfish earlier at Jok’s.

The wine with this was a Pahlmeyer “Jayson” Chardonnay from 2005. This was probably my favourite of the whites. Some sweetness to it, and a bit of fruit. It was not the standard “industrial” chardonnay, by any means.

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And then, for the mains, a familiar dish. Short Rib & Wagyu Striploin, Braised and Charcoaled, With Zucchini Lemon Fregula. I say familiar, as I know I’ve seen this pairing before at the WGF. It was 2006, with Michael Minha. The similarities end with the pairing of ribs and wagyu, though. Michael had accompanied his meats with horseradish mashed potatoes, and had roasted his wagyu (Kobe beef, actually, was the title). Here the chef had roasted the potato, having scooped out the middle to give a resting place for the jus, sort of like the hollow in the head of a Kappa.

The short rib was just as good as Minha’s. Fatty, rich, braised to the point of the meat falling apart.

The other side of the plate was quite different. There was a nice stuffed zucchini flower that had been deep fried. And the wagyu, grilled, was resting atop the fregula (a Sardinian pasta, sort of like couscous in look). This meat was better than Minha’s. Just at the right colour and degree, and the fat in the beef smooths it out in your mouth. I still like the short rib better for what it does to my arteries, but this is good, too.

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Nicholas Schneller, the Executive Chef here, had had a part in things, but a of the credit goes to Khun Anchalee Ponrungsit, the sous chef at Madison. And, as a note, she is one of the first female Thai chefs to lead a kitchen team in a Western restaurant in Thailand.

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We were winding down now, and lingering over our last wine. This was the Pine Ridge “Stags Leap” Cabernet Sauvignon 2000” that represented our lone red on the menu tonight. A nice wine, and we called the bottles back quite a few times.

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Our dessert was a ganache of Araguani Chocolate infused with tangerine. It was topped with a bit of bread, and sided by olive oil and a toasted almond.

I considered a cappuccino, but then thought better of it and just had some more wine. Reza (the manager at Madison) is quite used to my ways.

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And, finally, our sweets came. White chocolate with a hint of coconut, dark chocolate with a soft liqueur centre, and a Borg Continuum marshmellow.

At this point we began to break up, exchanging cards, and making final recommendations on other places to eat, books to read, and groceries to buy. We made it as far as the courtyard entrance, and then ran into more people to exchange greetings with.

Finally I was poured into the car, and taken back home by my friends.

Next: Return of the King

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Wow, you're eating such fancy food for being in Thailand! My trips there have always been nothing but mysterious but tasty things on sticks from street vendors, curries so hot the top of my head blew off, sea food on the beach, green papaya with salt, and more mango shakes than you can shake a stick at. (ha)

The Four Seasons in a tux?! In that kind of heat?! You are a braver person than myself. :blink:


-Sounds awfully rich!

-It is! That's why I serve it with ice cream to cut the sweetness!

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Wow, you're eating such fancy food for being in Thailand! My trips there have always been nothing but mysterious but tasty things on sticks from street vendors, curries so hot the top of my head blew off, sea food on the beach, green papaya with salt, and more mango shakes than you can shake a stick at. (ha)

The Four Seasons in a tux?! In that kind of heat?! You are a braver person than myself.  :blink:

That's a large part of why I'm fascinated by Bangkok. It has (if you look) pretty much everything. You can take breakfast at a noodle stand in the market, snack on excellent sake and a bagful of sausages, lunch on royal Thai cuisine, grab another snack in the food courts (good curries and pork braises), dine in the height of expat luxury, and then grab some deep fried crickets and a few bottles of Beer Lao on the street in the late hours. It's this variety that keeps me coming back.

What more can you ask for from this life?

:biggrin:

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June 25 – The Return of the King

I wouldn’t say that I’m against vegetarian restaurants. I can’t think of a single instance when I’ve had a bone to pick with them.

That said, it is usually a difficult task to get me through the door of any place that isn't welling to sell dead meat (heck, even still squirming).

But, if I am going to try and flesh out a meal, then at least the Asians can make it interesting.

I’d mentioned before that Kinnaree was offering some neat vegetarian dishes in line with the Sino-Thai traditions of Bangkok. Another strong vegetarian influence is through the direct South Asian link.

And that brings us to Dosa King, a South Indian vegetarian restaurant (and they do North Indian, too). All part of my carefully prepared strategy of canvassing the culinary traditions of Krungthep.

Yeah, yeah, I’m just blowing smoke. I’m here because I’m scared of Rona. I know that, after three years of being told to eat here, I'd better pull it off this time, otherwise, there'll be no more pound cake for me.

I’d woken up fairly early, had some noodles on the street (and was too wine-besotten to take any pictures) and then had called up Ellen to see if she could make an early lunch. She was in the neighborhood, so this seemed like a good chance to catch up on stuff that we hadn't had time for at Jok's.

Our timing was going to work out, and she and her husband could meet me a little after 11. I headed over with my laptop, with the intent to catch up on a bit of writing.

Dosa King used to be up the street on soi 17 or 19, I can never remember which. I’d always see the sign when I was going past Robinson’s, and had sort of consigned it to the background of Indian places along this stretch of Sukhumvit.

But, it had come heavily recommended by Rona, and this was the third trip that I’d planned on eating here.

Three’s the charm.

There’s a curse on this place.

I arrived at around 11:05, and wondered why the lights were out and the Closed sign was up. But then one of the staff went in, so I figured this was a good omen. I followed in her wake.

It seems that, yes, they do open at 11, but “something wasn’t ready”. Still, they were kind enough to turn on the lights, and kick-off the a/c. Being first in the door, I positioned myself in the path of maximum cool (I’m getting very skilled at predicting air circulation patterns).

Soon the other tables started to fill, small family groups gathering to communaly scream into their cell phones. I wrote a little, and then Ellen entered. We ordered some Lassi for her, and a pineapple punch for me. After the liver abuse I’d undertaken for the last few days, this made a nice break.

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And as a very pleasant bonus, she was followed soon after by her husband. He and I share a number of common interests (even beyond food), so this was happily met. We settled into the menus, and starting making suggestions for something to put some flesh on our bones.

As a comment, while menus with pictures can be a big benefit when you’re dining outside of your culinary background (as I was here), they can really slow things down. A printed menu, you just pays your money and takes your chances. Here we were befuddled by the decision making process.

“That looks good!”

“I wonder what that’s like?”

“Hey, what’s this?”

“Shinyyyyyyy!”

Okay, none of us actually said “shiny”, but that’s the overall effect. Like deer in the headlights we gazed, rapt, at what was available. This is what happens when you get eGullet people together.

Finally, as an anarcho syndicalist commune, we made our choices and put in the order.

The staff were very patient, I must say.

So, after all that, what did we eat?

Okay, bear with me. I’ve been in India a couple of times, but it was long ago, and food wasn’t our focal point. So, when I put the pictures up now, from last week, I’ll be quite happy if anyone can jump in and correct me if I get the names wrong.

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First on the table was papdi chat (?). This was the equivalent of nachos, with wafers of chick pea providing crunch under the layerings of sauce, sour cream, greens, and general stuff.

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Idli sambar came next, a steamed cake made with fermented flour. This was soft, and made a good, neutral foil for the various and sundry pastes and condiments that had appeared on the table.

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These three made a good mix of wet and tangy (red is my favourite flavour); green and pasty (I could make a school project for Serena with this); and the third a smoother, mushier thing, with crispy bits on top (take that as a cry for help - does anyone recognize the names and details of these items?).

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Then there was our first dosa, a paneer dosa. I’m fond of paneer, so when I saw this as an option, I jumped for it. Again, there’s a selection of condiments to go with this, including turmeric coloured pickles which I like.

Southern Indian ties nicely into a survey of Thailand, as Theravada Buddhism came here through the south of the Subcontinent (Ceylon) and, along with the shamanistic and Chinese elements, makes up a large part of the complexion of modern Thailand. Likewise, much of the rest comes through contact with the Khmer, Cambodia’s culture being much more Hindu influenced historically, although that, too, gave way to Buddhism. (As an interesting side note, it was the Thai Sangha that were charged with reestablishing the Sangha in Sri Lanka, after Dutch oppression in the 1700’s caused it to break down).

Okay, “contact” is a polite word for repeated invasions and occupations of Cambodia by the Siamese. That’s not a topic for now, other than to mention that there was an interesting focus in the news on Wat Preah Vihear these last few weeks. A coincidence, perhaps, that in times of internal conflict an external conflict (over roughly 10m of ground) should come into the spotlight?

But, I’m getting away from the food. Where were we? Ah, yes...we're “raita” here!

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We had a raita, this one a “raita mix boondi”, to cleanse the palate. Bobbing chick peas and dusting of spices. Cool and refreshing.

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And, if you’re going to have raita, you have to have nan. And if you’re eating anything, you have to have garlic. So we ordered a nice buttery piece of garlic nan for the mopping up operations.

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We’d been recommended the korma, so of course we had to order a serving of the navratan korma. I believe I’ve got the picture right. This came with sweet slices of Thai pineapple on top.

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And another dosa. This is “Dosa” King, after all. This was a ravo dosa masala.

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I’ve had dosas before, it was just a long time ago, and we didn’t know what they were called then. How do you eat these things, though? Ellen’s husband finally took the initiative and broke it down into pieces, but then you’re playing hit or miss with the stuffings inside.

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Desserts were very nice, and different from what I’m used to. The ras malaki is paneer in sweetened milk. Slightly gritty (in a crystalline manner) and really good.

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And the other dessert was a pista kulki (?), really an Indian sundae, but with the ice cream (sweet and rich) flanked with melon, the banana moved to capping positions fore and aft.

We wrapped up with masala chai, a sweet cup of hot, milky tea. Ellen’s husband noted the way that it holds a light film of cream on top, a signature scum of this drink, if you would.

A nice lunch, again benefiting from the company. There’s nothing like having a southern Indian lunch in Bangkok, and taking the opportunity to further my education in matters Japanese (as Ellen and her significant other are a great resource in this respect).

It was now mid-day on the 25th. I had three and a half more days of eating ahead of me.

What was next?

Next – Interlude

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June 25 – Memories of Meals Missed

“I do so relish these times of peril”

Sheen – Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius

The tagline of this thread is supposed to be Dining in the times of trouble. You may have noticed by now that, outside of the Lion’s Club shutting down central Bangkok for their parade, we’ve been noticeably lacking in political turmoil.

Ah, those boisterous Lions.

A particular aspect of Bangkok – for me – is that, once a few chores are done – I really don’t have to do anything. I can float. I’ve seen the temples, done the museums, visited the pathology clinics, and played with the body snatchers. On a day like today, I was free to do not much at all, and I set to it with a passion. I took my machine and went to the Londoner for a pint of cream bitter. Once there, I grabbed a paper.

I follow the local papers. The Bangkok Post is one of my favourite rags, with more written between the lines than on them. Tensions had reached such a fever pitch today that the Post carried a lead photo of Khun Samak (the prime minister, or rather self-announced proxy prime minister for the ousted Thaksin Shinawatra) folding origami cranes during the ongoing censure debate.

At least he stayed awake.

As I’d mentioned in the Dosa King part of this thread, there was an active attempt to engage the public’s attention over the Wat Preah Vihean story. This is a beautiful Khmer temple (or rather, the remains of it) built on the cliffs of the Dongrak Mountains, looking over the plains of Cambodia below (I was there back in 2001 when I was working through Michael Freeman’s excellent Khmer Temples in Thailand & Laos). After some serious flare ups over ownership in the 1950’s, the International Court ruled in favour of awarding custody of the temple to Cambodia in 1962. Now they’re trying to get UNESCO to add it to the catalogue of world heritage sites, and in so doing have raised the old border demarcation issues. This, in turn, has been fanned into an issue of nationalist pride. All this over 10m of concession stands. Rather convenient.

Those are the headlines. In food related news, the other stories were interesting. Consider the snack box that had turned up recently. Lawyers for a certain ex-prime minister showed up at court with a snack box containing 2 million baht. On video they were found asking some folks in the judiciary if they wouldn’t mind looking after it for them. Nice snack.

And, meanwhile, Mr. Samak was under investigation for hosting a cooking programme on tv. They feel this could be “unconstitutional”. I guess it’s a matter of how much of his food show your constitution can take.

I folded over the paper, and contemplated my afternoon’s accomplishments while sipping at the creamy head of the bitter.

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(This is an older photo posted back in 2006, but trust me, the beer still looks the same)

After lunch I’d taken care of some tailoring, checked out Asia Books, and then headed over to soi 15. Rona had recommended Yong Lee for duck. I figured I could fit in another bite or two. But, when I arrived at the venerable street corner shambles at 2:30, I was told they weren’t serving.

It’s a conspiracy, I tell you.

Then I dropped into Robison’s to see what was available. This ties back to my rant of June 26

And this in turn led directly to my decision, at 4:50, to grab a cab up to Villa 33. There I bumped into Fabio from Giusto down on soi 23. He was just getting out of his car, and we exchanged pleasantries. That got me thinking of good Italian food (and Giusto is very good) and that got me thinking of wine, and from wine I started thinking of things I like to drink….and so I headed for Fuji.

See, I can manage a train of thought. It’s just that each car has a different gauge.

At Fuji I found that bottle of daiginshu I nursed through the rest of my trip. I had it carefully bagged, and, as I read the paper and made notes, it rested peacefully behind the bar.

As the Londoner was just down the street from Villa 33 and Fuji, and as it was open, it seemed like an appropriate place to rest and wait for my friends.

You see, being a Wednesday, it’s Happy Hour all night long, which means 2 for 1 beers. I knew I could count on my mates showing up. It’s like staking out a waterhole in migration season.

I continued to read. There are a number of people writing from Bangkok (books that is), and, as they’ve said, where else could you have such a wealth of material just pouring out of the newspaper pages for you? I’d quote more stories, but nothing close enough to a food topic. I’ve been far enough astray this post as is.

My associates arrived as expected, and the night evolved – again, as one would expect. Finally, around 8:30 a crucial choice arose. Head for dinner, or take in a party? This was a monthly meet-up of the film industry people, and seemed like a good chance to catch up with some of our people. I gathered my things (particularly the sake) and we set off down the street to the Sheraton.

BarSu’s the latest squatter in that space at the street entrance to the Sheraton Grande. I think Riva’s was here before.

Big open space. DJ to one side. Reasonable list of cocktails. I pointed at a menu and ordered something, and then Paul and I tagged up with some of our other people from the film, and from there it was a matter of chatting and yacking and trading cards.

The good side was that the food, mainly nibbles, wasn’t bad. I had a skewer of beef with eggplant that did pretty much melt in my mouth. I was wondering if they were using the Sichuan bean flour that I use. But then again, being Thailand, they may just have marinated with papaya. Whatever, it was soft.

The bad side is that, while they advertise as a “space” to carrouse, conversation was difficult. Still, we made do. I met up with one fellow who was handling storyboards, who turned out to be one of Marvel’s nomadic horde of cartoonists, and the two of us were busy discussing that end of the business for ages.

Finally, my voice gave out. I can only shout for so long. Paul was in much the same shape. We made our farewells, finished our drinks, thought about ordering more drinks, and then thought better of it and packed out.

It’s strange thing when you consider lower Sukhumvit “quiet”. We crossed up to the BTS, Paul headed for home, and I walked down the other side for my place.

Somehow, I seemed to have missed a meal.

How could this happen?

Mind you, I had a nice bottle of sake now!

Next – Hunger

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You? Miss a meal? :shock: Oh, dear... :raz:


"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

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These three made a good mix of wet and tangy (red is my favourite flavour); green and pasty (I could make a school project for Serena with this); and the third a smoother, mushier thing, with crispy bits on top (take that as a cry for help - does anyone recognize the names and details of these items?).

Yay! Finally! Dosa King!

Did you enjoy the food? I won't be offended if you say no, but I do like their dosa! :smile:

I think, but am not sure, the green pasty thing was made with cilantro, and the white mushy thing was made with coconut. I don't know their names, though. I liked the white thing. Was the wet and tangy not some sort of daal? I remember getting daal with my dosa.

Were there other korma, as well? I don't remember ever getting chunks of pineapple and even a maraschino cherry with the korma! We were robbed! Or not...I can't imagine it would have improved the korma at all. Was it weird?

Mmmmmm...garlic naan. I'm having some of that next time! And paneer dosa! I love paneer!

Thanks for indulging my desire to live vicariously! :wub:

eta:

I’m here because I’m scared of Rona. I know that, after three years of being told to eat here, I'd better pull it off this time, otherwise, there'll be no more pound cake for me.

Damn right you should be scared! Especially now that you've met me and know what I'm capable of (I knew my tenacious whining would get you there eventually)! :raz:


Edited by prasantrin (log)

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June 25 – The Return of the King

YAAY Dosa King! Thanks for the great experience, not to mention the fantabulous pictures and write-up. I'm hooked on the place now; I actually went back there on Sunday night...

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These three made a good mix of wet and tangy (red is my favourite flavour); green and pasty (I could make a school project for Serena with this); and the third a smoother, mushier thing, with crispy bits on top (take that as a cry for help - does anyone recognize the names and details of these items?).

The wet, tangy red stuff is actually the "sambar" (as in "idli sambar"). The white stuff was a coconut chutney, and I think the green stuff was too (at least it also tasted coconutty, with a hint of some kind of herb...not mint, as I would have expected).

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Then there was our first dosa, a paneer dosa.  I’m fond of paneer, so when I saw this as an option, I jumped for it.  Again, there’s a selection of condiments to go with this, including turmeric coloured pickles which I like.

Actually, this was the rava masala dosa, the masala part being the spiced mixture of potatoes and onions (served on the side) and the rava part being the fact that the dosa was made out of semolina, not gram flour (I hope I have that right, anyway). There were also onions and such in the dosa itself.

I think this was my favorite of the two dosas.

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We had a raita, this one a “raita mix boondi”, to cleanse the palate.  Bobbing chick peas and dusting of spices.  Cool and refreshing.

I believe the "boondi" were the little crunchy cracker bits mixed in. Really, really good!

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And another dosa.  This is “Dosa” King, after all.  This was a ravo dosa masala.

This was actually the paneer dosa-- it was filled with a mixture of paneer and spices.

A nice lunch, again benefiting from the company.  There’s nothing like having a southern Indian lunch in Bangkok, and taking the opportunity to further my education in matters Japanese (as Ellen and her significant other are a great resource in this respect).

Aww, shucks. :wub: Thanks for inviting us along, and for listening to us blather on about Japan!

We'll see you (and the rest of the family) in September!

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YAAY Dosa King!  Thanks for the great experience, not to mention the fantabulous pictures and write-up.  I'm hooked on the place now; I actually went back there on Sunday night...

Was it your first time at Dosa King? If so, :angry: . How can you live in Bangkok and not have eaten at Dosa King? That's terrible! I suppose your second visit so soon after the first makes up (somewhat) for the transgression... :hmmm::biggrin:

The first time we went to DK, we also did a follow-up visit just a few days later. It was that good! (I can just hear the "purists" saying, "Why would you eat Indian food when visiting Thailand?" but they've never eaten at Dosa King, so they couldn't possibly understand!)

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And I hate to ask about French cheese in a Thai blog, but I've not seen St. Mere before.  Is that a stick in the middle of the cheese?

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Well spotted! I zoomed in to check, and the St. Mere (one of the drop zones in the Normandy operation) does have a stick imbedded. Checking the details, the outer mold looks to envelope the stick, so it's not an extra added later on.

Now, why is it there? We're going to have to ask the experts.

Anyone?

P.S.- I love that pattern on the cheese.

P.P.S. - cheese is getting to be more accessible in Bangkok but it's still an uphill battle. I do admit the smell isn't pleasant to the local nose, and the thickness of fat can be oppressive, but I do dearly miss a nice bit of cheese when I'm abroad.

P.P.P.S. - don't ask me about cheese in Mongolia.

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P.P.P.S. - don't ask me about cheese in Mongolia.

:blink: Cheese in Mongolia? MONGOLIA??? Er... ok sorry but this does have me curious. Is it horse cheese? I think they like mare's milk don't they? :huh:

Better mare than stallion! :raz:

But that's a topic for another time.

We need to get to the market next.

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cheese in Mongolia....erk, and did you try the milk vodka called something like arki Peter? ...hard to love despite wishing to wash away the taste of the cheese.. :blink: , but back to BKK food

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I saved up this thread all week so I could enjoy it with a large mug of coffee, and it was worth it! It's just turned steamy in my area, so I could really feel the heat you're evoking...The food looks marvellous as always. Peter, nobody does it better than you when it comes to travel gluttony. And I know you'll take that as a compliment. :biggrin:

But I'm a little cranky that you made me remember how good Beer Lao is...I'll just have to slip over to the market and pick myself up a Hitachino Nest Weizen to console myself with.

(I can just hear the "purists" saying, "Why would you eat Indian food when visiting Thailand?" but they've never eaten at Dosa King, so they couldn't possibly understand!)

Who are these purists?! I'll help you pelt them with rotten papaya. I'm an equal opportunity eater when it comes to food - I'll eat French food in Tokyo, Indian food in Hong Kong, Japanese food in Hanoi...you never know what you're going to find!

I always think of Bangkok, Singapore and Hong Kong as cities where anything is possible, gastronomically speaking - but also in other ways. When I travel to these cities I feel like, more so than anywhere else in Asia, that I'm plugged into the world, and that anything is possible and everything is open to me. I don't know why, but I just feel a different energy in the air.

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Was it your first time at Dosa King?  If so,  :angry: .  How can you live in Bangkok and not have eaten at Dosa King?  That's terrible!  I suppose your second visit so soon after the first makes up (somewhat) for the transgression...  :hmmm:  :biggrin:

Hey, go easy on us! :laugh: We've only been living in Bangkok for a couple of months now!

I DID have dinner at an Indian friend's house the other day, and her food was so incredibly good that I'd probably turn to her instead of Dosa King if given the choice. But it's good to have a backup!

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