Friday, August 31, 2012

Thailand: Morning Market

I'm back!  And by that I mean not only am I back with a new post, I'm also back in the States.  CK is hanging out with my family in the Bay for about 2 weeks before heading back to Chicago, so I can't promise that I'll be posting regularly and often anytime soon.  I'll try though.  I'm so very behind.

Anyway, back to Bangkok.  The day after AG's family found out that we wanted to check out a local market they made it happen:
















So many people, so much color, so many sights and smells.

The curry stall was one of my favorites:
















You choose what you want and the lady packs it into a plastic bag for you.  AG's aunt got us a few curries for dinner.

My other favorite was the Thai tea man:
















Just look at those manly arms as he makes our Thai tea.  I probably should have been disturbed by the amount of condensed milk he dumped in each cup, but instead it kind of made my day.

The plastic drink thong cracked me up:























The Thai tea was the best I've ever had and the drink thong made it that much better.

On our way out, we stopped by a stall for beef noodle soup:
















As well as this stall for meatballs on a stick (AG's cousin's favorite):























And another stall for khao moo dang or BBQ pork over rice:
















And khao mun gai or chicken over rice:
















As if that wasn't enough, CK got distracted by this stall:
















Once her interest was snagged, we couldn't leave without getting some fried bananas and taro:
















So much damage done in one morning.  I'm both proud and rather sickened by us.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Thailand: Thip Samai Pad Thai

Despite having a full meal at MK Restaurant, AG's family wanted us to try the best (allegedly) pad thai in Bangkok.  This meant making a stop at Thip Samai (called Pad Thai Pratoopee by the locals, which is loosely translated as Ghost Door):

















AG's family did take some pity on us and allowed us some time to digest by giving us a night city tour of Bangkok from the inside of their car.

Even with the slight detour, I was still literally in pain from eating too much by the time we got home.  All the same, I couldn't help myself from digging into the pad thai wrapped in a thin omelet:

















Oh, no.  One bite wasn't enough for me.

The pad thai was strangely creamy, most likely from the egg yolk that is purposely not cooked all the way.  That creaminess really made the dish.  I've had a lot of pad thai in my life and none of them ever rocked my world as Ghost Door's did.

Wow.

The additional pain was so very worth it.


Thip Samai Pad Thai
313 Mahachai Rd, Phra Nakorn, Bangkok 10200
02-221-6280

Thailand: MK Restaurant

In Kuala Lumpur now and being an old hag means I've been back in the hotel room since before 9:00pm.  Yea, sad.  I know.  But before you start feeling all sorry for me, remember that I'm in freakin' Southeast Asia.  I'm eating lots of awesome food.  I need the rest.

Yea.

Anyway, where was I?  Oh, yea.  Second day in Thailand. 

After a day packed with sightseeing, AG's relatives took us to Fashion Island, not for shopping, but for sukiyaki at MK Restaurant:

















When I heard sukiyaki, I thought of the Japanese dish.  So when AG kept trying to tell me that I wouldn't like it, I started to get annoyed.  I love sukiyaki.  What the hell was he talking about?

Apparently, sukiyaki to the Thais is hot pot to the rest of the world. 

Oh. 

I hate hot pot.

Luckily, dinner wasn't an entire bust because MK also offers some non-hot pot options.  There was this crispy pork:

















And this roast duck:

















Both were doused in some kind of sweet sauce and both were DELICIOUS.  AG's face must have given away how much he enjoyed the duck because AG's uncle ordered a 2nd plate of it.  Holy moly.

The sukiyaki part of the meal was pretty basic hot pot.  Pot in the middle of the table:

















 And trays of ingredients that you pay by the order:

















 There were all of the usual hot pot fare.  Fish balls, veggies, meat slices, seafood, the works.  The sauces provided were a bit different from typical hot pot.  I didn't actually get to try it because AG's family ordered me a non-spicy alternative. 

The most exciting part of the meal was when music suddenly started to play and all the servers started dancing.  No joke.  Choreographed dancing.  In the middle of the restaurant.  All of them.  To a ridiculous song about MK and sukiyaki. 

Our server danced right next to our table.  I couldn't look her in the eye for the rest of the night. 


MK Restaurant
Fashion Island (1F)
Ram Intra Rd, Khan Na Yao, Bangkok 10230
02-947-5082
http://www.mkrestaurant.com/

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Thailand: Roti Stand

Arrived in Melaka from Singapore yesterday to find the city overflowing with people.  We were very lucky to snag the last available room at the 2nd guesthouse we walked into.  Unfortunately, we were unable to find a place to stay for tonight, so we're beating a hasty retreat to Kuala Lumpur in 2 hours.

The taxi isn't here yet, so blog update it is.

On the way back from Ayutthaya, we kept seeing these colorful stands in the middle of the expressway:

















The EXPRESSWAY.  Who in the world would stop along the expressway to...oh, we would.

Turns out it was the best idea AG's uncle had our entire time in Thailand because that impromptu stop on the expressway introduced us to the magic that is roti:






















The super thin roti (interesting green color doesn't affect the taste) takes time to separate.  Once separated, you load it with hay-like strings made of sugar and roll away:

















The final product is this sweet mini-burrito:

















The filling is hard to describe.  Sweet without being overpoweringly so.  Every bite is, in the words of CK, delightful:

















We couldn't get enough of that stuff.  AG's aunt bought us a 2nd bag of roti for our flight to Phuket.  We demolished most of it in the airport.  It tasted fabulous even when slightly stale.

One of my favorite discoveries in Thailand, hands down.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Thailand: Riverfront Restaurant

After Bang Pa-In Palace, AG's family took us to this little restaurant on the river.  Literally.  It was floating on the river:

















Again, AG's uncle and aunt ordered up storm while CK and I watched in horror (the good kind, of course).

There were fish cakes:

















And various Thai sauces to dip them in:

















Of course there was tom yum:

















I think we had tom yum just about every meal we had in Thailand.  Whether that's because it's such a central Thai dish or because AG's family knows it's AG's favorite is anyone's guess.

I personally didn't mind.  I love the sourness of the soup.  If only it didn't have so much debris in it:






















While the shrimp is certainly edible, a lot of the aromatics in the soup aren't.

One of my favorite Thai soups is the tom kha gai:

















The coconut tempers both the sourness and spiciness:

















The veggies that followed turned out to be my favorites of the meal.  Surprise surprise.  I know.  I don't even know who I am anymore.

There was on choy:






















There was this octopus dish:

















Okay, so this wasn't really a veggie dish, but I see pieces of some kind of squash on there, so I'm calling it one.  It's my blog.  I can do whatever I want.  Nyeh nyeh.

I was really surprised to taste salted duck egg in the dish.  Normally, I'm not a fan.  I typically shy away from foods that have a gritty texture to them.  Salted duck egg is a prime example of that.  However, the egg yolk in this dish actually made the sauce somewhat creamy and interesting and delicious.  Leave it to the Thais to find a way to make salted duck egg palatable.

This veggie dish was so freakin' good:

















I don't know what kind of vegetable it was exactly, but the salted fish cooked with it made it super savory and super yummy.

We left the restaurant stuffed to the brim and sporting a few mosquito bites that weren't there when we first arrived.  Or at least I did.  Asian mosquitoes love me.  I've collected so many mosquito bumps over the last couple of weeks that my legs are rather gross to look at.

I'm swollen enough as it is!  Leave me alone, stupid mosquitoes!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Thailand: Red Drink Ice Stand

On our second day in Thailand, AG's family took us to Ayutthaya.  I told them I wanted to go, thinking that they would drop us off at the train station. Instead, they went out of their way to plan a complete day trip for us, which included a pit stop at Bang Pa-In Palace.

On our way back to the parked car, an ice stand caught CK's eye.  AG's aunt immediately went up and bought CK an ice:
















The ice came doused with "red drink" (whatever that is) and drizzled with condensed milk:
















Buried under the hot pink ice was grass jelly.

CK's face after taking a bite was priceless.  Curious, I took a bite too. 

DEATH BY SWEETNESS.  Avoidavoidavoid!! (Unless you're under the age of 10, have a massive sweet tooth, have a death wish, or all of the above.)

Thailand: Muslim Restaurant

Hello everyone!  I'm currently in Penang, Malaysia with CK (AG went back to the states a few days ago) and it's been glorious to finally take things slow and eat whatever we want at our own pace.

You'll see what I mean now that I'm starting my Thailand posts.  While we were in Bangkok, we stayed with AG's uncle's family, who were extremely warm and generous.  They kept trying (and succeeding) to feed us.  At the end of every day, we would literally be in pain from eating too much.  We joked that they were trying to kill us with food.

They really might have been.

Anyway, prepare yourself for a series of posts that don't have actual restaurant names or addresses.  AG's family took us all over the place and I have absolutely no idea what each restaurant was called, as all the signs were in Thai.  (I did take a year of Thai back in undergrad...but little good that did me.  I barely remember anything beyond "little spicy" and "very tasty."  I can't even spell my own name anymore, much less read.)

We arrived in Bangkok from Taipei Thursday evening.  After dropping off our luggage at AG's uncle's house, the first thing we did was go out for dinner.  AG's uncle's family brought us to a bustling open-air Muslim restaurant:
















There was a bit of a wait, but CK and I killed time by wandering around and staring at all the food being prepared at different stations on the periphery of the restaurant.  The grilled fish station was particularly mesmerizing.

AG's uncle and aunt ordered up a storm.  While AG sat forward with an excited gleam in his eye, CK and I could only gawk as the dishes kept on coming.

We started with some som tam (papaya salad):   
















Then the beautiful grilled fish we'd been ogling earlier:
















You eat the fish wrapped in veggies with Thai sauces.  Sticky rice optional:
















Grilled beef:
















Some kind of oyster omelet:
















Spicy beef salad:
















Beef satay:
















And AG's favorite tom yum soup:
















The soup didn't come with any bowls, so CK and I watched AG to follow his example.  We should've known better.  He dipped his spoon directly into the soup, which we copied, only to be horrified when we observed his family ladling soup into their own spoons.  Damn you, AG. 

This is the meal where AG's family realized how weak I am against spicy food.  The ribbing started there, but they were always considerate of my spiciness tolerance level in future meals.  I kinda feel bad because I ruined AG and CK's true Thai experience.  Heh.  Only kinda.

Thai food is just better in Thailand.  I can't really explain it.  Everything is more sour, more salty, more fishy, more sweet, more spicy, more INTENSE in Thailand.

Yum.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Taiwan: Chi Niu Xiang

Thanks to Typhoon Saola, CK and AG didn't really get to truly experience night markets in Taiwan.  We tried going to Raohe Night Market but due to the rain there were barely any stalls open and not that many people wandering about. 

After doing one walk through of Raohe Street, we managed to get CK and AG one black pepper bun, one order of fried stinky tofu, and one $10 sugar apple. With nothing else really open, we finally gave up and went into Chi Niu Xiang, a beef noodle soup restaurant. 

My dad did the ordering and as usual, he went kinda crazy despite our protestations of not being all that hungry.  We started with 3 cold cut meats.

Pork ears:
















What my dad claims is some kind of connective tissue attached to the liver:
















And intestines:
















He also ordered beef noodle soup:
















My dad tried to order an all tendon noodle soup, but when we were informed of the price we quickly ditched that idea. 

Instead my dad ordered wontons in chili oil:
















Very fragrant, but not spicy at all.

The cold cut meats were delicious, but personally I think my dad makes a better beef noodle soup.  While the noodles were certainly Q, the soup itself was somewhat lacking in flavor.

As we'd warned my dad, there was a lot of food leftover at the end.  I did, however, manage to finish all the wontons.  I'm boss like that.


齒牛香牛肉麵
台北市饒河街104號
09-5305-3372

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Taiwan: Eastern Ice Store

After a unsatisfying meal at Din Tai Fung, we stopped by Eastern Ice Store for some dessert:
















CK and AG didn't know what they wanted in their ice and it was taking too long to translate all the different toppings, so we just left it up to the lady behind the counter.

She whipped up an ice with tapioca, rice balls, yam rice balls, and big red beans:























The ice melts really quickly once it touches the warm ingredients so you end up with a sweet soup of sorts.  There's an extra bucket of ice in the little dining room area if you want to add any.

Eastern Ice Store is known for its tapioca balls, so don't leave those out.  But if you're not into icy soup, you might want to look elsewhere for actual shaved ice.


東區粉圓
台北市大安區忠孝東路四段216巷38號
02-2777-2057
http://www.efy.com.tw/
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