Monday, November 2, 2009

Travels through Asia pt 1: Thailand (bangkok!)

And................ we're back! My favorite dining companion and I spent a good month gallivanting across the Asia continent... eating and exploring for your pleasure. Our first stop on our journey was the lovely nation of Thailand. The homeland of Pad Thai, sticky rice with mango, and lady boys.

We initially stayed near Khao San Road.. the backpackers district. As you walk toward KSR a flurry of street markets pop out of nowhere. In the mornings you can find yourself some iced coffee and bagged curry and in the afternoon a plethora of fried food and desserts. The streets are packed, food stalls on one side and clothes on the other.. you gotta push and shove your way to the food destination.

Two things I could NOT get enough of were fresh papaya salad and iced coffee/tea. Everywhere you turn there are carts with people chopping papaya and grinding away at the fresh chili and peanuts.

They mix together the freshly chopped papaya with chili, fish sauce, shrimp paste, dried shrimp, peanuts, green onions, and a little bit of love (SHOUT OUT TO CARLA).

The papaya being so fresh is crisp and sweet and the peanuts really spark off all the flavors. I don't think I had a single bad papaya salad in Thailand.. always bursting with flavor and full of fresh ingredients.

And since browsing in the hot Thai weather makes you dehydrated.. what better to quench your thirst than some Thai iced coffee/tea? (so sue me, it doesn't quench your thirst)

There is usually a push cart with a few people manning some coffee filters and big jugs of tea. They have crushed ice and scoop a large spoonful right into the plastic bag. After the ice dispersal they drop in the tea/coffee... mix in the condensed milk... toss in a straw.. and wrap it all up! Tea in a bag!
If you feel as though you need a healthy alternative to quench your thirst, there is PLENTY of fruit on the streets of Bangkok. For 25 cents or less you can find yourself some nice dragon fruit... bananas... mango... pineapple.
BTW can someone tell me the appeal of dragon fruit? There is no flavor in that fruit. I don't get it.

 The next series of pictures are just of my wanderings and eating around Bangkok. We pretty much walked everywhere. And when you walk everywhere... you pass a lot of food vendors. 

On the way to the Golden Mount I saw a mini food cart food court. One thing that stood out to me was the noodle soup vendor. At 45 cents a bowl I'd be a fool not to try!

After using my great gasp of the Thai language... by pointing and nodding my head.. I got myself a bowl of seafood noodle soup.

A clear and light broth filled with fish paste balls (the brown one) and fish balls. The fish paste balls were a bit spongy and had the texture of gelatin. I quickly finished it off.. not the best bowl of noodles I've ever had.. but certainly adequate for an 11am snack.

The same day we had ourselves a late lunch. We figured we'd try a "restaurant" around the area so we wandered around till we saw a place. Most of the restaurants in Bangkok have the cooking done at the front of the restaurant. You're able to see what they are making and if it's appealing to you. 

I ordered a delicious soda right off the bat. Soda in Asia or.. anywhere other than the U.S. doesn't use High Fructose corn syrup so it doesn't leave that grimy aftertaste in your mouth. Drinking out of a potentially very unsanitary tin cup... my mother.. she would not approve.

When we first walked in Kathy wanted to know if they could make her some noodle dish.
Her conversation with the owner
K: Can you make me a stir fried noodle?
O: ?
K: Chicken? noodle?
O: ok

The result was a pretty tasty chow fun with stir fried chicken. Most of the noodle dishes we had in Bangkok had a heavy handed dose of MAGI sauce.. but this was just about right. I enjoyed it.

I ordered the CORNSTARCH SEAFOOD NOODLE (j/k on the cornstarch)

Even though the flavors were nice.. and the shrimp had a really interesting thick meaty texture.. the amount of cornstarch they used in the sauce was overwhelming. MORE NOODLE LESS CORNSTARCH! that goes for all thai noodles ... whether it's in LA/San Diego/BANGKOK!

While walking down one of the markets I smelled really sweet roasted bananas. I saw a lady grilling a bunch of items wrapped in bamboo leaves. I usually associate bamboo leaves with sticky rice... so I put one order in. 3 of these for 50 cents. 

Once I opened it up.. SURPRISE! sticky rice with sweet banana. O-m-goodness it was good. The banana was extra tender and sweet and the sticky rice had a crisp char on the outside.

One night, we decided to take the river ferry to the Chinatown section of Bangkok we were greeted by bright florescent lights and packed streets. Plenty of food stalls all over the place.. reminded me of Taiwan!

Here we have the "pick your own meat" selection. Point and they stir fry it together.

But I ended up settling for something that looked FAR more appetizing to me. Pork shank, pork intestines simmering in its own juices... chopped up and served with spinach and rice. *DROOOOOOOOOOOOOL*


A paltry $1 gets you rice, veggies, pork, sour veggies.

I am drooling as you read this. No matter what time you're reading this... I am drooling over this dish. The meat was soooooooo tender and the sauce was so rich in reduced pork fat flavor. I was | | that close to getting a second order... but I was being judged for being too much of a fatty =(.

The next day we went to the Floating Market. The appeal of the Floating Market to me... are the people who float around in boats and make noodle soup for you. Just a guy with a bunch of pots.. tossing together a tasty bowl of pork noodle soup.

The soup is full of star anise, five spice, and white pepper giving it a really hearty earthy flavor.

The noodles were not your typical noodles, almost like rice noodles but with a rubbery texture. I enjoyed it greatly... so much so... once again tempted to get another bowl.. but shot down.

But while I was NOM-ing on the soup noodles, Kathy went and got our first Sticky Rice and Mango!

Super ripe and soft mango with a little pouch of creamy coconut milk. A+!

BTW.. there is no cheap sticky rice and mango in Thailand. If there was.. they were hiding from me. I literally searched the four corners of this city for one that would cost me less than $1USD but to no avail. This badboy cost us almost $1.60 USD. RIDICULOUS! I did not budget for Mango Sticky rice being that pricey!

What I wasn't stopped from doing.. was eating 3 bowls of coconut ice cream in young coconut shell.

The ice cream was nice and sweet.. and most importantly milky cold in the hot heat. To add to that the coconut itself was scrumptious. Meaty and sweet.. I actually liked it more than the already tasty ice cream!

A final picture of the floating market... was a sleeping pup. I'm going to follow this pup.. and go to sleep as well. Be back later with more in Bangkok as well as the rest of Thailand!


Anonymous said...

Some very nice photos! All looks very tasty. I esp. like the tea in a bag!

kirbie said...

Oh wow, so many yummy food pics! I've never been to Thailand, but I really want to go. I can't wait to read the rest of your posts!

Tracey said...

Damn, I am jealous. I had some dragonfruit in Vietnam and loved it; I thought it tasted like a sweeter kiwi.

Bob said...

Awesome, Fu Man. Looks like something straight out Bourdain! Also reminds me of why there are no pics of my feeble attempts at Asian food on my blog.

Sawyer said...

wow, looks like you've been eating like a king over there. lookin forward to that next post. that coconut ice cream looks so good

Joseph said...

Great to have you back on the NET. I'm looking forward to the rest of your trip to the Far East. Welcome home!!!

caninecologne said...

great food pix! welcome back!

i enjoyed this posts - loved the street food choices. i wish we had that in san diego. yeah right...

the food there looks so fresh!

Charlie Fu said...

Anonymous: Thanks! I got tips from my wonderful photo pro girlfriend

Kirbie: Hotels, food, flights are relatively inexpensive. I think for quality/dollar wise.. Thailand was the best.

Tracey: I think i had dragon fruit almost every day.. and not a single day did I like it ;p.

Bob: Haha Thanks!

Sawyer: it's easy to eat like a King when everything costs sub $3 USD

Joseph: Thanks! I've been slacking off on the updating, but I'm trying to catch up now. I certainly haven't stopped eating tho and taking pictures!

CC: Thanks again! I'm not sure the California Health department would let some of these street stands operate! ha

Frank said...

Charlie, you are cat whisperer. But your tiger picture would have been more impressive if you were riding the feline.

Food looks pretty good, btw. Maybe you should have Kathy take some of the pictures. She's way better at that type of thing.

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