If you ask my mom to name her favorite foods in Bangkok, she’d start rattling off a long list, “durian, rambutan, longan, lychee, mangosteen…” allllll fruits, and indeed, we ate plenty of fruit that week!

Fruits that are typically expensive or infrequently found in Hawaii overflood the produce section in Bangkok supermarkets and everywhere you turn, street vendors push carts filled with these sweet jewels.

A pound of fruit often costed less than a bottle of water!

The floating market just an hour outside of Bangkok.

Rambutans!

Rambutan Innards

Lychees

Lychee Innards

Mangosteens from a Chinatown vendor

Mangosteen Innards

And the best fruit ever…DURIAN!

Of all the fruits I could have eaten, durian remained my steady favorite. I loved it so much that we bought an entire fresh durian at the market and had them chop it up so I could take it back to the hotel.

Needless to say, we stunk up the taxi and hotel room. But I suppose ‘stunk up’ is rather subjective, cause to me, the scent of durian is mighty attractive! I like my durian cold, soft and creamy.

It has the texture of pudding in your mouth and the velvety mouthfeel of whipped avocados. A frozen durian in Hawaii runs near $15, and you can forget about finding a fresh one.

Okey doke, we’re off to Bangkok now! By the time we arrived in our hotel it was way past midnight, and I was hungry. So we hopped into a taxi in search of night market food. Traffic in Bangkok is crazy, and seems to only get worse as the night wears on. Our driver took us to this small street where I found this dish of cha kuay tieu. All concerns of not being able to order food due to language barriers wore off when I discovered a good percentage of the population speaks Teo Chew! I’m not fluent in Teo Chew, but know it well enough to carry on a decent conversation, and most importantly, order food :)

The noodles were just what I needed at the moment, flat, wide, slippery, salty with plenty of galan choi, slices of beef and egg. For a mere 5 baht more, the guy added a generous handful of chopped chicken feet into the dish.

Whereas the kuay tieu dishes I’ve had back home had a 80:20 ratio of noodles to veggies/meat/egg, this dish (and as I would soon discover, most stir fried and soup noodle dishes in Bangkok) has a much more agreeable 50:50 ratio.

But portions seem small to me cause I grew up in this sumo sized eating country called America. And I was still hungry. Two stalls further up the road was a group of guys hawking hainan chicken rice. And man did those fresh chickens look good! So I had an order.

My grandma and mom used to make this dish quite frequently at home and my favorite part was never the chicken, or the side dish of broth, it was always the rice. Wonderful things happen to rice in this dish. Instead of being cooked in plain water, fresh chicken broth is used along with ginger, garlic, and five spice. The end result is this fragrant, savory dish. The rice could be a meal on its own. I always find the side of cucumbers unnecessary, but then again, that’s just me. This dish also comes with a side of chicken broth, confidently seasoned and ‘finished’ with cilantro and a side of peppers. The steaming soup was given to use in a plastic twist tie bag that was mighty difficult to drink from (I’m surprised the bag didn’t melt!), but who is to complain? The chicken is less meaty, more juicy, and not soft like what my cousin calls, “American Chicken,” hahaha.

The next morning when I wandered into the airtrain station I found…

…waffles!

I didn’t come all the way to Bangkok to eat waffles, but you must believe me, the smell was so intoxicating I couldn’t help from purchasing three pieces. They were all different flavors, of course: the original plain (with a touch of honey), maple, and sesame seed & salt.

My favorite of the trio was definitely the sesame seed & salt. It had the awesome, ‘dessert but a little salty’ vibe found in all my favorite Asian sweets. The waffle’s deep grooves were especially efficient at harboring the wealthy of white sesame mixed with coarse salt. If only the breakfast places back home would serve something like this. Not too much to ask for, right?

We lunched at the basement of the Siam Paragon, which is pretty much a (slightly) more sanitary version of the outdoor food markets. We liked this basement so much that we ended up coming here for either breakfast or lunch three days in a row. Don’t worry, we did more exciting stuff during dinner time.

It was at this basement when I had my favorite dish of pad thai throughout the trip. I had pad thai in restaurants, the night markets and various street stalls, but only this dish reached my ideal balance savory and sweet. There was a good mix of tofu, chicken, green onions, bean sprouts, and egg, the sauce was relatively light, not sopping wet and sugary like what I often find back home.

I split an order of boiled clams with my mom. The clams are boiled just so that they are safe to eat, but still raw enough so that fresh blood drips out as you rip them from the shell in a dip into a chili based, vinegar and sugar dip. No matter how big the order, you gotta eat them quick, they’re no good once cooled.

My parents developed an obsession with this dish here. I can’t remember the name of the noodle soup, but is consisted of triangular shaped noodles. They looked like small white pyramids in a dark sweet broth, with a vinegary tang, completed with cubes of pig’s blood, a variety of fishballs and meatballs, tripe and intestines.

For dessert I had this crepe/pancake like object. It was my least favorite dessert of the trip, though it was intriguing to see how they utilize the egg yolks and whites separately in the dessert. The orange strands in the middle are egg yolks topped with raisins, and beneath that is a mound of meringue. Crazy, yeah?

My favorite food item of the day, perhaps even more than the sesame seed and salt waffle was a container of durian sticky rice! I love durian to bits and pieces. And in every single form possible: durian ice cream, durian candy, durian gum. But of course, the best form of durian is au natural. Unless. Unless it comes fresh, on a mound of steamed sticky rice with liberal quantities of fresh coconut cream soaking into every open crevice, and a dash of toasted sesame seeds. After this first container, I decided that my motto for the rest of the trip would need to be, “learn to share,” lest I insist on putting on another 20 pounds.

Which is why I glady accepted my sister’s offer to share part of the pandan toast, essentially a thick slice of bread toasted and buttered to death before a slather of warm kaya jam. Thick enough to save itself from sliding off the bread, but still oozy enough to resemble some alien non-food object.

Well I have to leave for dinner now, but I’ll be back soon enough to finish the post! :)


Want to know my favorite street food/snack in Bangkok?

Not this…

Or this…

But what is this you see here? Could it be? For real? YOU TIAO!!! =) If you live in Hawaii or parts of LA, you’ve probably eaten your share of you tiao with a morning bowl of jook. Most you tiao I’ve had comes in the form of long sticks about a foot long and an inch or two in diameter. The stick is cut into bit size pieces so that they bob around quite nicely in the jook or bowl of hot noodle soup. It’s a big hassle to make at home with all the frying, so the only time I have you tiao is at restaurant. BUT I’VE NEVER HAD IT ON THE STREET. AND I’VE NEVER HAD IT FRIED IN INDIVIDUAL PIECES. Which makes this vendor quite special to me. He operates in Bangkok’s Chinatown and comes out in the afternoon, maybe 5pm or so, just as the night markets start to open up for dinner business.

As you can see here, you tiao is rather labor intensive, given the fact that he works on a stand near the busy streets of Bangkok. Cars and bikes whiz by constantly and the traffic never stops. It’s dusty here, and dirty, so you might be inclined to wonder about the sanitary conditions of your food. In such cases you are better not thinking and just eating. Mix the dough, let it proof, shape, stretch, cut and then…

FRY! Oh yes, fry let it fry in the hot bubbling vat of golden oil!! It’s exciting to watch this all take place, as long as you don’t mind the sweltering summer heat and traffic noise, and dirty streets. But as you watch him fry each individual nugget, turning it from a limp piece of beige dough to a marvelous puffy, crispy creation, nothing…well almost nothing, in the world seems to matter.

And viola, here you go! A bucket of you tiao. If you eat one, it is very, very good. If you eat five, you start to feel sick. So maybe two or three at a time is good, yeah? But eat it while it’s hot, or don’t bother eating it at all. Bit into and tear apart that thin layer of crackly skin, so perfect, you’d almost mistake it for roasted pig skin (minus the porky flavor that is!), and then inside, is hot and doughy, but not the least bit underdone . It’s just barely savory,, but not sweet, though I could imagine how good this could be with just a bit if sugar added in the dough – you tiao gone dessert? I’ll let you know if I ever decide to make that at home! :)


On Sunday we ventured to the Chatuchak Weekend Market, which is one of the biggest open markets in the world, with thousands of stalls covering over 35 acres. You can find anything your imagination dares to dream from yards of silk, to antiques, shoes, clothing, Pomeranians, flowers, snakes and chickens! We were warned about the crowds and soaring heat, and told to bring wet towels, plenty of water and even more energy. But seriously, even I had no idea it was this hot. After just half an hour of wandering around my energy died out, and I was pretty sure I’d just topple over and die if I didn’t find a cool place to sit and a bottle of frozen water.

The rest of the family, on the other hand, were dripping even more sweat than I, yet their desire to shop clearly outweighed anything else at the moment. So I told them I would find a place to rest and we could meet back in a few hours. “Okeydoke!” they said, and left me in the sweltering heat. I retreated to the nearest restaurant, nothing like water, a bench, a fan, and some food to revive oneself!

I started with a spicy green mango salad, which turned out to be more efficient in cooling me down than the bottle of frozen water, believe it or not. Pepper and spicy foods have this way of burning my mouth, but then cooling down my body temperature. Not sure if this happens to everyone, maybe I’m just strange in that way! It was a fairy simple salad composed of grated green mangos, peanuts, onions, basil and plenty of chopped chilies in a tango dressing similar to nuoc nam, only much sweeter.

This fried sausage reminded me if the Vietnamese cha, only this was deep fried till the skin was near blistering crisp and the innards rendered all hot and juicy. The spicy peanut based sauce was unnecessary for the sausage, as the meat itself was already so flavorful and fatty in the most wonderful way possible, but it proved to be very compatible poured over the rice below.

A bowl of sticky rice to bring it all together. Ahhhhhhh, I felt completely revived after this meal! My parents and sister were hungry when I met up with them a bit later…so we had to have lunch again! But we’ll save that for a future post, okay? ;)