Thursday, July 19, 2012

Thailand and Cambodia

In Bangkok for one night (blah blah world is our oyster blah blah), we had 2-hour Thai massages at Rakuten and then went to Soul Food Mahanakorn for dinner.

Yam som-o (kind of like som tam, but with pomelo shreds instead of green papaya):

Yam makrua yao (sour smoky eggplant, soft duck eggs, mint, coriander, bacon):

Southern Thai fried chicken with pickled watermelon rind:

Sticky tamarind ribs with caramelized pineapple chutney:

Isaan & Chiang Mai sausages with nam prik nuum:

On Koh Phangan: som tam, green curry, and a whole chili-garlic fish @ Mai Pen Rai on Than Sadet beach:

At Plaa's on Than Sadet beach...wontons and arguably the best som tam we had on the trip, featuring plenty of prik kee noo ("mouse shit chiles" known more politely in English as "bird peppers"). Also delicious pat thai with freshly-ground peppers:

We also stayed on Bottle Beach for a few days, and found that the best food was at Smile, at the very end of the beach. Spring rolls, larb, and basil noodles:

Jungle curry with tiny pea eggplants, chicken satay (a whole breast), som tam, and banana fritters with condensed milk for dipping:

Corn and green bean ice cream bar?

Whole fish with fried garlic:

In Siem Reap, we went to dinner at Arun, a place "local" enough that the desk person of our guesthouse (Bopha Angkor) seemed confused about why we would want to go there.

We drank a lot of Angkor beer. There is also another local brand, Anchor, which is clearly trying to poach Angkor's market share. 

Fish amok, a very Cambodian dish. Plus garlic rice, prahok kroeng (ground pork with tiny eggplants), and fried morning glories: 

We lunched at one of those tourist places that feeds your driver for free if he routes you there, and actually it was pretty good. The "spring rolls" had this wispy fried shroud on the outside and were full of peanuts and pork; our driver Kim Ty also gave us a steamed pumpkin cake that was pretty good:

Dinner at Sugar Palm, a fairly expensive restaurant frequented entirely by foreigners, it seemed.

Banana-blossom salad with chicken:

Prahok Kh'Tih, a dip of prahok and pork and such:

Another fish amok, this one steamed to be almost souffle-like: 

Khmer crispy noodles:

The following morning, on our way to some even more distant temples, we asked our driver Kim Ty to take us to Psaar Leu, a more "local" market that was markedly different from the more touristy places--almost nobody aggressively tried to sell to us at all.

We finally figured out that these were banana flowers:

Snakefruit/salaa/salacca kept popping up, and I ended up buying a bag to snack on:

Freshwater clams from Tonle Sap, the gigantic lake Cambodia depends on for everything. These are dried in the sun and eaten, uncooked, as a snack, with chili oil. Our driver said they were too dirty for him to eat and strongly advised against us trying some. We took his advice:

Lunch at another roadside tourist place:

On the way back, we stopped for a bit at the Roluos market, but it was mostly closing up since it was so late in the day. We did buy some mole crickets fried with lemongrass, keffir lime leaf, and chiles for me to eat later: 
They were admittedly pretty good, but it was hard for me to get over the bug thing. I've enjoyed crickets before (at a Oaxacan restaurant) but I think I had had a few beers then.

I've got to mention this--on our last night in Siem Reap we were just looking for something non-Khmer, after four days and four nights of Khmer stuff, so we popped in Il Forno, in the main market area. The breadsticks were chewy (the humidity!) and we figured it was going to be kind of a bust of a meal. But you know what? It was excellent. Good pizza, good pasta (I had bolognese), good wine, good Parmesan cheese, and at a good price--half of what another Western place, La Malraux, was charging up the street.

Back to Thailand. Our first dinner was the tasting menu at bo.lan, an anniversary treat from Priya's parents. It was very expensive but very delicious.

Crispy rice appetizer:
Ya dong grachai dum and sour fruits (Thai rice whiskey, pandanus juice, etc.):

A kind of papaya salad and a coconut sesame roll, I think?

Amuse-bouche; pork belly, a very spicy salad, and a rose-apple with a peanutty topping:

Yum gai baan rod jut: salad of Kanjanaburi chicken with egg:

Lon pla insee kem naem dok care: salted Spanish mackerel simmered in coconut cream with prawn + stuffed local flower and battered greens:

Goong talay pad nahm phrik gapi sai kratiem dong: Stir-fried ocean prawn with 'Pattalung' style chili relish and pickled garlic (plus some very pungent sataw beans):

Gaeng khii lek nua yang naem pakkad dong yum: Khii lek (cassioa) leaf & flower curry with slow-cooked "KU" beef plus a pickled mustard green salad:

Dtom khamin sai gai baan liang duay samoon prai: soup of red turmeric and herbal-fed Thai chicken. The broth was extremely spicy!

Dtom jeud tang raan yud sai muu sub kub woonsen: clear soup of large cucumber stuffed with pork and vermicelli:

Brown sticky rice cake + iced "mock rubies" (water chestnuts colored by red dragon fruit) with jasmine syrup and coconut milk:

Tapioca pearls with coconut cream and lychee, with bananas and cashew-sesame-rice-coconut brittle:

All kinds of petit-fours...we didn't like the smoked meringue-like thing (which was like eating a puff of campfire smoke), but the rest ranged from okay to great:

We got lost in Chinatown for awhile and wandered...shark fins, for soup:

Bird's-nest soup at Burapa, with honey, raw egg, and gingko nut to mix in:

Ah, sataw beans. I wish I liked you:

Butterfly-pea dumplings from a street stall:

MBK, one of the megamalls near our hotel had, surprisingly, an awesome Thai food court, with dishes cooked right in front of you (not steam-table garbage).

Stewed pork leg:

Battered/fried mussels:

Som tam with preserved crab:

Fried chicken:

These LOOK like Thai tacos, but they are actually Thai candy. The yellow "cheese" shreds are made from egg yolk:

Lunch at Krua Apsorn. Sadly they were out of the sauteed mussels we'd heard about, but lunch was amazing anyway.

Crab fried with yellow chili peppers:

Crab omelette: like spicy things. We ask for stuff to be spicy so we don't get watered-down versions. And here, at Krua Apsorn, they finally did what I had been dreading: took our request as a challenge (rather than as a request not to dumb down the food) and put in as many chili peppers as humanly possible just to see if we could eat it. Look at this som tam--it isn't even normal-Thai-spicy. There are more peppers than papaya:

We also got young-coconut ice cream/sorbet, which didn't photograph well.

Dinner at Boon Tong Kiat Singapore Hainanese Chicken Rice.

Red pork and garlic rice:

Hainanese steamed chicken and garlic rice:

Singaporean rojak, with youtiao (cut-up Chinese fried bread), cucumbers, pineapple, and a bunch of other fruits:

The next day we went to Chatuchak Market, but ended up spending more time across the street at Or Tor Kor market.

Fried banana, taro, and potato:

Making chicken satay, lightning-fast:

The gingko fruits we kept seeing everywhere and ate with the bird's-nest soup:

Nam prik with egg and peppers:

Mango and sticky rice:
The next day we went to the Khlong Toei market for a cooking class at Helping Hands. Before we cooked, we walked around the market and bought supplies.
Ant larvae, for omelettes:
Strips of buffalo skin:
Bags of soda and juice. We were advised not to drink these:
Spun sugar, looking like Nicki Minaj's hair:
Betel nuts and leaves:

The makings of som tam:

The makings of tom yam soup:

A pickled duck egg that Poo, our teacher, let us try:

Priya learns to make pat thai:
Last night--a movie, and dinner at Nara...skinny spring rolls, lime chicken, and prawn drunken noodles:

Then dessert at the mall ice cream stand Freshy Freeze, where they make the ice cream right in front of you on supercooled drums. We had coconut ice cream with caramelized banana: