Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Travels through Asia pt 2: Thailand (A lil bit of Bangkok, some Koh Samet, and drool worthy Chiang Mai!)

First of all, I'd like to apologize for what seems like randomness in the food pictures. I will admit, with much guilt, that during this trip I ate 5-6 times a day. When you're eating that much the meals seem to jumble together ...  day turns into night.. night turns into... uh day and the food never stops. The posts are, to the best of my knowledge, what I ate in sequential order. There becomes more  normality of 3-4 meals a day when we leave Bangkok.. based purely on the fact that there aren't that many street vendors in the other countries... or in the case of Taiwan... our main meals were so vast that I could barely muster any extra food in my mouth.

First I leave you a quick shot with me and a "friendly" tiger at the Tiger Temple

Enough with the blabbering.. back to Bangkok and RIGHT back into street food.

I'd say you'd be pretty hard pressed to walk around Bangkok and not see street food. Whether it's a push cart with meat on a stick (in this case.. chicken, pork, bacon, chicken heart, intestines).

Freshly stir-fried Pad Thai. (Which by the way tends to be pretty poor in quality. I've tried multiple street cart Pad Thai and it's always been too plain. Never has that sweet and savory nature that you find at home.. or the sit down restaurants in Thailand)

Or most importantly, seafood on the street. The bane of all Chinese mothers out there. Especially ones who have sons like me... that are willing to eat seafood on a street corner.

Most of these places display all their seafood on ice along the sidewalk. After you choose your seafood they toss it right into the wok. If you see that ladies hand at the right of the picture... she's cooking there. How could I pass up a plate of nice exotic clams for $2USD? Fortunately for me I had zero stomach problems on this trip *whew*. 

Tons of fresh delicious Thai basil tossed into a magi/soy sauce mixture with these large brown shelled clams. I LOVE thai basil. It imparts this aroma that makes me want to just stick my nose in the plate and sniff all day.

After coasting a few days in Bangkok we set sail for the sunny beaches of Koh Samet, a national park/island off the eastern coast of Thailand. 3.5 hours by bus then 1 hour by boat. We stayed at a nice little beach side resort, Samed Villa, which had a bunch of stray dogs hanging around. I found that a very odd aspect of my stay there.... no other area had that many strays.. just the beach for this hotel. 

There were a lot of vendors (ala guys walking around with grills on their shoulders in baskets...) selling grilled chicken and papaya salad (which were both delicious). The place we ended up eating the most was Ploy Bar and Pub... a local seafood joint that laid out a bunch of mats and tables along the beach so you could sit on the sand.. and just enjoy your food.

This setup is pretty similar to the seafood vendors in Bangkok, just more tourist oriented. A bunch of seafood options but they also have seafood combo platters so you get to try a lil bit of everything. We did shellfish combos as well as a really nicely done whole fish.

The whole grilled fish was spot on. Roughly $8 USD (pricey I know.. tourist trap and all) it came with a really nice spicy sour sauce that went well with the thick fleshed fish. 

We also got the seafood platter one night.. which was a mollusks, squid, shrimp, and more fish!

The main reason we kept coming to this place.. was the live music and the fire shows they put on. A group of boys/men got together and performed along the beach for tips every night at 9pm. Some of the younger boys were also wait staff at the restaurant!

After taking this relaxing stay at the beach we hurried back to Bangkok. Unlike our first portion of Bangkok where we stayed in the "backpackers" district, I wanted to explore the modern side of Bangkok. 

From shabby worn down buildings, to high end shopping centers and super efficient subways! Once you hit downtown Bangkok the streets really come alive. Bright lights, whizzing cars and subways running all over the place. Most importantly.. McDonald's ice cream cone for 25 cents..

and a Whole Foods like supermarket with one of the BEST wine collections I've ever seen at a marketplace.  I was tempted to buy a 1970 Lynch Bages for $100USD but I had no clue how I'd transfer that back to America on the first leg of our trip.

(Whole Paycheck.. eat your heart out!)

Shopping around one of the malls we saw large crowds of students rushing into two particular restaurants that were door to door with one another. What were they serving?

All you can eat Shabu Shabu and Sushi for $6USD! After deliberating and pacing back and forth in front of the restaurants.. we finally went in. It was conveyor belt Shabu Shabu! All the sushi and prepared food were in hot trays but the food for the Shabu Shabu came to you like it was on a sushi conveyor belt! You got to pick between Tom Yum soup or chicken broth.. and a large assortment of seasoning.

Sorry for this picture. I wish I had something closer, but I was yelled at when I was about to snap my first photo in the restaurant. All I got was a video of the belt moving food.. and the lady in front of us sorting it.

Safe to say, I was content.. and stuffed to the gills in meat and veggies for $6. Not exactly eating "thai traditional" food but I guess I was "thinking outside of the box!"

The next morning we left for Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand to explore the cities lush green jungles.  I've always wanted to try more Northern Thai food. The limited tastes I've had in San Diego and Lotus of Siam have piqued my interest. The flavors are bold and adventurous and not your typical Pad Thai, stir fried noodle. There is an emphasis on spiced soup noodles and preserved/grilled/fried meats.

Our hotel was centrally located in Chiang Mai downtown (I use this term loosely). We were literally a block away from the "famous" Chiang Mai Night Market. While the market is bustling at night time, it's pretty empty when the sun is up. Which... was unfortunate.. cause we landed in Chiang Mai at 11am and were STARVING.

After wandering around our hotel area... stumbling across McDonalds, Burger King, Subway, and Starbucks we wandered down an empty alley hoping to strike gold. After nearly turning back, we saw small wisps of smoke rising into the air. We take a look around and we saw this

A lady grilling chicken legs and big fatty pieces of pork. 

Priced at $1 USD for 3 pork pieces and 40 cents for one chicken leg we hopped on and chowed down. Of course this is not enough food for a growing boy... and I saw she didn't just have this grill.. but a larger cart with some pot and pans.

I pointed at the pot, she said "Very good! traditional!"
"Stop" I told her...
"You had me at traditional."
Scooping a big handful of bun into a bowl she opens the pot for pork filled goodness. 

Looks like Bun Bo Hue Eh? Kuay Tiew Moo Nam Tok. 
Spicy Pork Noodle soup, pig's blood, chunks of pork, sour cabbage, and shaved lettuce mixed in a steaming hot (and spicy) pork broth.  I was in HEAVEN. This is what I was looking for during my travels, super authentic food that I couldn't easily get in America. The spice was nice and hot, the depth of the soup was superb, and the use of the preserved veggies really pushed it all over the edge. Best part of it all? $1.50!

I needed all this food for the perilous trek we were taking later in the afternoon.

The next day we prepared for a day of watching Elephants roam the forest land at Elephant Nature Park.  Unlike most Elephant attractions, we didn't ride the elephant or watch it do shows.. we just watched them roam around a preserve. We got to explore where they stayed, we fed them, and bathed them in the river.

They had two very young elephants that were just born into the herd not too long ago! After watching  them for awhile, the reserve set out a giant buffet spread.

 I had an appetite that rivaled the elephants... (plate one of three)

Also had an intriguing dessert that I saw all over northern Thailand.

Coconut milk with chewy tapioca texture neon treats. Served over a bed of ice... cool and refreshing.. yummmy.

After we cooled off with a refreshing dessert, we cooled the elephants off in the river!

At night we headed into the Night market to feast. In the center of the Chiang Mai night market they had a series of food stands that are opened by restaurants located in the area.

I had to grab a bowl of Kao Soi Gai. Egg Noodle Curry with Chicken.

It looks spicy but it's not at all. Really hearty curry flavor with the always scrumptious preserved veggies on top! And since one dish really isn't enough.. I passed by a stand displaying oodles of noodles! I saw one dish that kept being ordered and after hesitating.. I finally ordered

Pad Thai in an omelet!

Oh. my. goodness. This was easily the best Pad Thai I had on the trip. The lightly cooked egg on top just added to its greatness. The noodles were perfect al dente, the sauce was sweet and savory, the peanuts just added a nice nutty crunch to top it all off.

After walking around the marketplace to rests our bellies, I wandered across a giant sign that said ROTEE

Who can say no to fried bread covered in condensed milk?

You get your mix of banana/chocolate/egg/honey/corn/ or just milk. She makes them fresh right when you order them. On the second night we went to another place and they had already made the Rotee before you ordered... not nearly as flaky and crunchy. We rectified that mistake by going back to this lady.

We got a chocolate and banana.. which comes sliced up and ready to eat with a fork.

The Rotee is covered in condensed milk, chocolate, and stuffed with bananas.

We also ordered plain Rotee with just milk.. and you eat it like food on a stick.

The dough is so sweet and flavorful. It's flaky and moist and just brimming with warm tasty goodness. When we went to Malaysia we were hoping we'd find some more of this.. being a Islamic treat (from what we could tell) but to no success.

The next morning, we took the early bird flight for dirty dirty dirty dirty (emphasis on dirty) Phnom Penh


Anonymous said...

mmmm that rotee looks delicious!!!

more photo posts please!

KirkK said...

Hey Clayfu - Looks like you had a great trip!

Little Miss Contrary said...

OMG, you make me miss the motherland! I love Khao Soi and Rotee! Looks as if you enjoyed your time in Thailand :)

Rosemary said...

This won't succeed in reality, that is exactly what I think.