Wednesday, September 14, 2011

More Thailand: Steaming Bowl of Beef Noodle Soup

Just after the elephant rides and the tiger petting....we caught our breath, stopped sweating profusely from fear of large jungle cats, and asked Seree to take us to his favorite noodle shop in Chiang Mai. It was a large spread out affair with sturdy tables, mixed chairs, steamy soup, and a HUGE crowd of people. We were obviously the only non-Thai in the place but the sounds of slurping and clinking crockery soon overtook weird silent looks at the stupendously large 'Mericans.

They had bags of pork rinds on the table for munching before soup. They had the omnipresent dried chili, fresh chilis in vinegar, sugar, and fish sauce for the souping up of...well...the soup. Lean sirloin, fatty brisket, soft round sausages. As I've said before, there's no comparison to the richness of the broth in these soups. We just don't get broth like they get broth.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Go East Young(ish) Man...Far East

If you all thought no posts meant no food, less food, less interesting food, or less interest in food...


It's good to have a block of small business owners who form a community w/ the people who live, work, and shop there. In my case, it's because my pal Scott owns a custom suit store and was heading to Bangkok to scope out new vendors. And also because he was crazy enough to ask me to come with him. So here's little bits of a week in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, Thailand.

First night. Land at about 11:30 in Bangkok after 23 hours on planes and in airports. Restaurants may be open, but we're braindead. And there's a 7-11 on every friggin' corner in Bangkok. So it's prawn chips, a faux-Korean BBQ Chicken-flavored cracker, and a bizarre purple-Taro-goo-filled roll.

And then sleep!

Leave it to me to find a Mexican joint in Bangkok! Pork torta for lunch on day one. Somewhere near the US Embassy (and amusingly the Vietnamese Embassy across the street from the US ambassdor's residence.

On your way from the hotel to a Sunday Muay Thai fight and your driver says go see Wat Pho and the reclining buddha? Sure.

Yeah. He's 6'7".

It's hundreds of feet long and dozens of feet tall. And the soles of the feets are covered in Mother of Pearl scroll work and pictures.

Portrait of a westerner in the courtyard of Wat Pho.

A slightly discomfortingly young Muay Thai fighter offers prayers before a bout.

Feels good to win.

Meat on stick is GOOD!

Bowls of beef noodle soup at 2am is better. Sausages, brisket, filet and noodles swimming in a rediculously rich, deep broth. This was my default meal for a week...and I will miss it dearly until I get back to SE Asia.

Chicken noodle soup, Thai-style. Funky rust-colored bricks? Yeah, congealed chicken blood. Not terrible at all. Strange to get your head around, but tasty. I finally tasted what people meant when they described organ meats as minerally. Texture like a very smooth, soft sausage.


When you don't raise chickens to have no fat and 10-pound breasts, you get real chicken. And it is unreal. Sinfully delicious. Tender meat and crispy skin held together with a barely set layer of fat.

Catfish in Chao Phraya River. Crazy buggers get fed a steady diet of tourist-flung dog food sold by a small temple to raise money.

Oh. My. God. More beef noodle soup on the way to a riverboat tour north of Bangkok.

Ka Pao Gai w/ fried eggs.

Noodle soup money shot.

Roast Pork w/ Kaffir Lime Leaves.

On the Chao Phraya north of Bangkok.

 Terra Cotta masks.

Frying chicken and pork bits. Including balls of chicken...balls. This is NOT something I'll try again.

Here, piggy, piggy. Chinatown in Bangkok.

Grilling fried dough.

Hello, Chinese doughnuts. Hello green coconut sauce, chocolate sauce, and strawberry jam.

Damnoen Saduak floating market.

Pomelos at the floating market.

Side canal, Damnoen Saduak.

Soup on a boat!

Pork and Shrimp noodle soup.

Outside the Emerald Buddha statue at the Thai Royal Palace.

Panel at the Royal Palace.

Coconut fried chicken nuggets.


Candy night in Bangkok.

Even the Thai have hot pockets.

Some things just don't translate well.

Cab rides. No goats (or water buffalo), automatic weapons, sex, wolves, pump soap dispensers, durian, or smoking. VERY Specific.

Cooking lesson in Chiang Mai. Crushing garlic and Thai bird chilis.

Stir-frying pork and the crush garlic/chili mixture w/ a little fish sauce.


Thai basil.

Ka Pao Mhu.

Ka Poa Mhu Fried Rice w/ Fried Eggs.


 Longan interior. Grape texture and flavor under a thin layer of bark with one large interior seed.

Breakfast of champions. Rice porridge w/ sausage served w/ sides of fresh ginger, cilantro, crispy shallots, and chili in vinegar.

Yeah. I did that.

 Cute little guy. Sleepy tigers are safe tigers.

Ummm. Some people just call me crazy!

Noodle soup w/ tripe.

Ubiquity, beef noodle soup is thy Thai nickname!

 Kitchengeek-Ball! Chiang Mai.

Snakehead fish in soy. Not scary at all. Sweet, white, flaky fish. Lots of small bones. Worth picking through.

Still scary looking!

Night market. Chiang Mai.

Khao Soy. A heartier noodle soup w/ thick egg noodles and crunchy noodles in a thick broth often spiced w/ curry.

Soup to go. Noodles out of the bag first, then soup.

It comes w/ pickled cabbage and red onion.


Narita. Preparing eel for the lunch rush.

Three-storied Pagoda at the Narita Temple.

Narita. On the way home. More noodles. Udon this time. Thank god for other cultures in which even food at the airports is good. Shame on us for accepting bad food when we travel.

Tempura, miso soup, rice. Narita airport.

The end of a trip.

Look, this isn't even a tenth of the photos I took on this trip.

I'm tall (6'3") and large (we'll keep that sufficiently vague). Going here was worth spending almost 24 hours on a plane to see.

It was foreign in every good sense of the word.

Good news for you? Thai food in the US tastes exactly like Thai food in Thailand. So go get some.