Sunday, December 26, 2010

Bangkok: Highlights in Eating

We did not get to eat around Bangkok as much as we would have liked, using the city to fly in and out of other destinations meant we were often rushed or too tired to be super adventurous; but nonetheless, we did have a couple great meals found with minimal effort and here are the highlights:

One of our first nights in town, we decided to check out a Chinese seafood restaurant nearby our hotel, Lebua. Somboon was probably a hidden gem at some point, but is now very tourist friendly....not that it's a terrible thing, but good in a different way. We were welcomed into a bright, clean restaurant with an extensive seafood menu (with bright colourful pictures!). Everything looked so good we didn't know where to start! Of course, we had to have the well-known curry crab (regular followers will recall our love for curry crab at Saigon Star in Toronto). This curry crab was prepared a bit different - less heart-stopping rich, but still very delicious. The crab came cracked, and the curry chilis were mixed with egg that toned down the "hotness". The fresh chilis used also tasted wonderful, without the awful mouth burning we sometimes experience from chili oils. We also had steamed sea bass and a small plate of grilled squid...yes, we were on our way to a trip of very high cholesterol! The food was very affordable and we wanted to eat it all!

Best value: $4 meal at food stall outside Tha Chang pier. The seafood fried rice with shrimp paste and egg is still one of the best dishes Tony had on this trip, and I loved my bowl of fish maw noodle soup. I regret not having another bowl!

Best "sit down" meal: Taling Pling - the most delicious spicy soft shell crab and butterflied fried sea bass with fish sauce. Although I initially wanted to stay away from fried food, I could have eaten the whole plate of spicy soft shell crab by myself, every bite was crispy and tasty. We couldn't possibly go a meal without curry, so we had red curry with duck breast, which was very tender albeit a tad spicy for me. While it's tucked on a quiet street by night, the area is completely safe and Taling Pling is definitely worth checking out, great food in a comfy restaurant at of course, very reasonable prices!

Best Tom Ka Gai soup (coconut chicken): food stall at Soi Pradit Market. This street lined with food stalls was a short walk from our hotel so it was one of our early stops for a meal. We stopped in for lunch the second day we were in Bangkok, and just randomly stopped in one of the many lining the street. We had a delicious bowl of coconut chicken soup, full of incredible fresh flavours - lemon grass, cilantro, bay leaves, ginger peppers and more (I can't name it all!). The flavours all blended beautifully and tasted great! That was one of the most amazing things about eating at food stalls - the food is all made to order, made fresh, and has a wonderful complexity of hot, sweet and sour purely from the fresh vegetables used. This was one of the first instances we really appreciated Thai cuisine and its true complexity.

We really learn about Thai cuisine and what makes up the fragrant flavours when we take a cooking class in Chiang Mai...but more on that later!

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