Friday, October 24, 2008

Welcome to Bangkok, Thailand

Thai food is often associated with lemongrass, fish sauces and spices. That's what make it so aromatic and flavourful. Indeed during my trip to Thailand in October, I just had to try their local cuisine. And that includes street side hawkers. I have a weak stomach and I'm not so inclined towards street hawkers. (Okay I rate highly on the fear factor scale) I surveyed and prowled the streets for a 'decent' looking hawker where I can lay my taste buds on. I found one outside my hostel Suk 11. He sells chicken, beef and pork on sticks. The stall was pretty neat and clean. He is very organised with the seasonings, sticks, raw and cooked food. I paid only 10 baht for it. To my surprise from a roadside stall, the chicken tasted so good! It was tender, well seasoned and flavourful! It was definitely worth it. FYI 10 baht comes to about SGD $0.40. Basically meals in Thailand are very affordable. If you are comfortable with local non restaurant dishes, give them a try.

Ok this is not the one but similar to the one I tried

I plucked up the courage again next day and gave a go at one of the stalls in Chatuchat market. It was small, wet, dark and dirty. As I was hungry, I couldn't care less. Found a seat and the owner gave us a menu in English. I picked the safer choices of minced cooked chicken and a bowl of rice. I topped up with a papaya salad (one of their local specialties). The dish seemed somewhat unappetising and unpresentable. It looked so uncooked, and untasty. It lacked colours. The 'ugly' dish came with a messy and wet setting of the stall. Hence no pictures taken. But again to my surprise, it tasted so yummy! I took another bite. Indeed it was so well prepared. It had a little gravy and it was so perfect. The fried chicken we ordered was ordinary. Nothing to rave about as it was rather dry. Papaya salad was not too bad either. Total cost: 130 baht (SGD $5.80 for 2)

Dinner was a plate of fried noodles with pork. It was only 40 baht (SGD $1.70). Simple and enough to fill my growling tummy. Another local speciality which I love is the Pad Thai. A Singapore version of it which is my favourite, can be found at Thai Express. It's so delicious. It's actually fried noodles with prawns, diced beancurd, peanuts, eggs, shredded carrots and beansprouts. Sometimes they come with some cuttlefish. This Thai Pad Thai dish I ordered was only 90 baht in a restaurant setting. Imagine the savings.....

The portion was huge!

Breakfast at Suk 11 was simple but nice. It's a cosy backpackers' inn so breakfast was a simple affair of banana muffin, tea/coffee, croissant, sliced bread with butter or jam. Of course there were fruits to complement the breakfast. I smuggled in Milo on the 2nd morning :)

See the nice table setting?

What's Thai food without Tom Yam Soup and Pineapple Rice? On our last day, we both agreed on trying Tom Yam Soup. We ordered this with Pineapple Rice and noodles again on the last day. It was a smaller serving but enough to make us salivate. 3 items came to only 480 baht (about $20.60 for 2).

It literally came in a pineapple

Of course you might have heard of people raving about the bird's nest and claypot shark's fin in Thailand. You can find that in Chinatown. Been there tried that a few years back. But try it if you haven't.

In a nutshell, food in Thailand is CHEAP! You can feast like a king and enjoy the delectable dishes right in front of you. It's not very spicy in case you are worried. In Singapore, try the authentic Thai dishes and forget about those hyped and commercialised restaurants. Go to First Thai along Purvis Street. It's located at the end of the street, next to Beach Road. The chef is a Thai and the whole coffeeshop is decorated with Thai ornaments, a pic of the Thai king and many other thai stuff. It's in the mid price level so it's quite okay. Try the Olive Fried Rice, Pineapple Rice, Fried Egg with Spinach and the Milk Tea. Of course add the meal with Chicken/Pork in Basil Leaves and end the meal with some Thai desserts.


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