Disappearing Thailand

There are few things that people dislike more than whatever makes them feel old. So although Drake seems like a very nice guy with lovely taste in shoes, I have to say that I want to jump out a window every time I hear him on the radio (I would never voluntarily put him on (except for “Hotline Bling” (OK GRANDMA))) because I for the life of me cannot understand why anyone would enjoy listening to that. Does it seem to you that he’s just mumbling over the top of a track laid down by that band that played at your cousin’s bar mitzvah because they offered a 10 percent discount? Mumbling, but without his headphones on, so his words have nothing to do with the beat? Mumbling about his feelings, which you don’t care about, because you have things to do and just want to go about your day? I mean, what are people thinking? Is it just a case of dominos falling, like, oh since that person listens to Drake, I should too? To me, Drake’s music feels like that one friend you have who just will not get off the phone, no matter how many hints you drop about stuff boiling on the stove. Please get a therapist, Drake, who is surely reading this right now. For my own sake.

Something else that makes me feel old: remembering the Sam Yan area as it used to be. There used to be a real wet market there. There were street food vendors and restaurants who were worth the trek from Sukhumvit and driving around the block five times to try to find a parking space. Now, some of them are still there, clinging on by their fingernails to the clientele who have been coming to their shophouses for decades, but not for much longer — Chulalongkorn University, which owns this land, has given notice that the remaining eateries have 3 years to clear out. This makes me sad for two reasons, and those reasons are called Nakorn Pochana and Jok Samyan.

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Preserved egg congee at Jok Samyan

I don’t think there is a Thai person in Bangkok who hasn’t heard of Jok Samyan (245 Chula Soi 11, 02-216-4809), regardless of whether they are a Chinese-style congee fan or not. Jok Samyan is one of the most famous street food vendors in the city, period, up there with Polo Fried Chicken and Thipsamai. Unlike Polo Fried Chicken (which now has an indoor A/C room and delivery service) and Thipsamai (which now has a velvet rope and at least six line cooks), Jok Samyan hasn’t really changed much since when it first started out. They still stir their congee out in front of their shophouse every day, and still make their peppery meatballs (their real claim to fame) by hand before every service.

Thais get all “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” when you ask them what makes a good jok. They will tell you it’s all about “patience”, like they are Axl Rose or Will Smith in that golfing movie with Matt Damon. What they mean is, it’s about how smooth the porridge becomes, and how the rice grains get cooked into a nearly uniform whole. Although Jok Samyan is a street food place, their congee does get that silky, the individual grains broken down for the greater good. Put in a barely-cooked egg and you have one of the greatest street food dishes that Bangkok has to offer.

 

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Curry crab at Nakorn Pochana

(Photo by @karenblumberg)

Nakorn Pochana (or “Nai Hai” as regulars like my parents like to call it, 258-260 Chula Soi 11, 02-214-2327) is another eatery that has been in the Chula area for generations. Different people like different things here: for my mom, it’s the wide range of stir-fried greens, always crisp, always fresh,  never bogged down in oil. For my husband, it’s the khao pad nam lieb, or fried rice with Chinese olive, cooked in a claypot and brought to the table fluffy and aromatic with olive and garlic, accompanied by a plate of cubed lime, chilies and slivered shallots. For others, it’s the stir-fried crayfish, cooked until the shells are crispy and crack under the pressure of your thumbs to reveal juicy, sweet tail meat. For me, it’s probably the curry crab, probably my favorite (aside from Raan Pen) in the city. Like beauty, your favorite dish is in the eye of the beholder (or taster). Only the best restaurants can do that.

The reason for this is probably because of the cook, who has been working the woks since he was 19. He is now 53. Nakorn Pochana plans to move to the suburbs within the three-year timeframe, but the chef may not go along for the ride. Oh who am I kidding, the chef is married to the owner, Khun Chariya. All the same, “Thais today do not have the kwam od ton (determination or perseverance) to be good cooks today as they did before,” said Khun Chariya. It’s something only an old person would say.

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A very Phuket breakfast

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Kanom jeen and green curry at P’Pom

Some dishes are inextricably linked with places, like croissants and Paris or pizza and Naples. For Phuket, the dish that most likely springs to mind is the Mon-style rice noodle known as kanom jeen, served at curry stalls throughout the island from the early hours of the morning. Just as mainland Thais expect to start their days with something like a bowl of eggy congee and a deep-fried cruller or two, anyone in Phuket unlucky to find themselves up at 7 in the morning will typically go for a plate of these noodles instead of rice, slathered in a crab or nam ya (minced fish) curry, a gaeng tai pla (spicy soup of fermented fish entrails) or, at the very least, a green curry studded with cubes of congealed chicken blood and tart little Thai eggplants.

It would make sense to love this dish for its rich bright curries or even the bounce of the rice noodles. But I love this dish for the treasure trove of stuff that I can adorn my plate of curry noodles with, both pickled and fresh:

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So many options! And it’s not even counting the hard-boiled eggs that one, if one were not to tragically discover they were allergic to eggs, should happily chop into little pieces and sprinkle over their plates like Parmesan cheese (which one might also be allergic to). There are the pickled garlic bulbs, and pickled bean sprouts, pickled mustard greens and even, if you are lucky, Chinese-style pickled turnips that you normally find on your egg noodles or rice porridge. And because it’s the South, there are fresh mango and cashew tree leaves, long beans, chunks of cucumber and pineapple, basil and mint, pennywort, stink beans still in their pods to distract your tastebuds and fresh Thai eggplants to cut the spiciness of your curry. Dried tiny fish, just because. Fresh bean sprouts if you’re greedy. It is hard to practice restraint, when everything is already there.

I like to try out a different kanom jeen place every time I come to Phuket, given that it’s a local thing and all. On my last trip to the island, I went to P’Pom, where the rice noodles are not the only popular thing on the menu — there is also a highly-praised hor mok (steamed seafood curry), including one with fish eggs, like a Thai-style (and very fishy) chawanmushi.

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So how to get to this place? It’s hard to explain, plus I am directionally challenged, so I’ll just leave it to Google:

https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m18!1m12!1m3!1d3952.0784717208385!2d98.3719103147787!3d7.886858994318043!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m3!1m2!1s0x0%3A0x0!2zN8KwNTMnMTIuNyJOIDk4wrAyMicyNi44IkU!5e0!3m2!1sen!2suk!4v1472806058361” target=”_blank”>

 

 

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Come to Thailand

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Jay Fai’s famous tom yum soup, cooling on the countertop

Let me tell you what bothers me the most about Adam Sandler’s movies. No, it’s not the ingrained misogyny. It’s not the fact that this dude is transparently enjoying a holiday while pretending to “work” at the same time, all on someone else’s dime. Hey, it’s not even Rob Schneider. It’s the music.

I believe “Adam Sandler” is a musical fraud. He is not the real-life Adam Sandler. The guy in the “Wedding Singer” who claims to have been “listening to the Cure a lot lately”? I don’t believe him — unless it’s “Sunday I’m in Love” played over and over again 1,000 times a day, because real-life Adam Sandler seems exactly that cheesy and annoying. That guy, who loves Van Halen and Billy Idol, but not, like, White Lion or Ratt like people who actually lived during the 1980s, because his taste is so superior to everyone else’s, even when everyone’s taste at the time was notoriously terrible. Real-life Adam Sandler looks exactly like that guy in junior high school who would make fun of you in your Damned t-shirt, confuse the Clash with the Cult, and question your sexuality for listening to Depeche Mode. He would have worn a mullet and listened to Bad Company and had an AC/DC poster in his bedroom, just like everyone else. Only after the fact, in the safety of his college dorm room, can he begin wearing white K-Swiss sneakers with little ankle socks and boxer shorts and proclaim his affinity for the Smiths. All of a sudden he’s deep and cool, and not the trash-talking metalhead who tormented you on the bus ride home because “SKID ROW RULES!” You know who I’m talking about. The guy on the side of strength, until he didn’t have to be. The guy who never had to pay his dues. That guy is Adam Sandler.

I feel the same skepticism when I see something like Netflix’s “Stranger Things”. Don’t get me wrong, because I loved “Stranger Things” and thought almost every single detail, from Barb’s glasses to Steve’s BMW, was great. But give me a break with the older brother’s music. So he’s so cool that he indoctrinates his brother with the wonders of the Clash and the glories of their second-most-overplayed song, eventually turning it into a major musical focal point of the story? Is everyone in this po-dunk town really that cool? Does everyone remember the 1980s differently from me? Where is the Def Leppard? Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam? TAYLOR DAYNE? Because if I had to suffer through “Love Will Lead You Back” 800,000 times every day, someone else must have, too. Or are we just denying this ever happened to us? Sweeping this under the rug? Who, in 1985, would have said that people would remember Echo & the Funnymen 30 years later, that nostalgia would make it cool to play a snorefest like “Nocturnal Me” on a television show and enshrine it as a classic?

“Best Restaurants” lists are also attempts to pick out classics, but for food and in real time. That makes it doubly hard. So it didn’t surprise me when the Michelin Guide awarded two Singapore hawker stalls their very own stars, or that there is even a Singapore Bib Gourmand Guide at all, because $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$. Also, you know, street food is currently having a “moment”, I hear. Did you guys know that? That’s what all the kids are saying these days. Street food is “in” right now. What’s that? You think it smells like a ploy, like pandering to millennials, like Hillary Clinton claiming to carry hot sauce in her purse at all times a la Beyonce? Well, I say, how cynical of you! Oh, and did I mention $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$?

Why, I’m hearing through the grapevine that Michelin might even come to Thailand! E-GAD. Finally, an outsider can validate/nullify our own food choices. How have we ever eaten before now? And what should we do until then? THE SUSPENSE IS UNBEARABLE (she says, hitting herself in the head with a broken chopstick slathered in artisanal Sriracha sauce). What do you think should be considered for a star? What do I think? Oh, I am all a-flutter, like Tom Brady in a restaurant when his chef has the day off.

Honestly, I can only think of two (street food) places I would think about. One of them is this:

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Bamee Sawang, biotches

because, even though I can’t eat them anymore, the egg noodles here are probably the best anywhere in the country. But maybe Chinese-style noodles are covered? Maybe we should be thinking of a tom yum noodle place, even though most tom yum broth is too sweet and adulterated with condensed milk? (she says, brandishing her AARP card)

The second one is my favorite, even though we have a complicated relationship, she and I. Some days she likes me and some days she doesn’t. That uncertainty makes my trips to her shophouse very exciting.

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Jay Fai at work

It’s not easy to stir-fry noodles. It’s not easy to be a “made-to-order” (aharn tham sung) cook. It’s often thankless and always draining. But Jay Fai (who is either 70 or 77, depending on what day you ask her) has managed to stay one of the best in the country — if not THE best — through sheer will, ego and a dedication to top quality ingredients that is reflected in her sky-high prices. If you come here, you must pay obeisance, if not outright acknowledge that she is the best, because she is absolutely willing to dismiss your sorry ass. After all, she used to serve abalone gravy noodles to then-Prime Minister Thaksin at 10,000 baht a plate. What is she doing wasting time with us jokers?

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So, who would you propose? Quite frankly, I’ll be happy with any Thai place that ends up in the guide, because any acknowledgement of great Thai food is a plus in my book. I’m totally serious. Even if it ends up being something like S&P, I will be behind it 100 percent. Now, I am the bully on the bus telling you what to like. Because Thai food rules.

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When food is the enemy

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Chicken rice at Nai Thong

It started with the insomnia. Sleeping two, maybe three hours a night, only to wake up to a still-dark room and a dispiriting “2:00” or even “12:30” on the clock. I started binging on sleep products. I did acupuncture, reiki, kinesiology, any treatment that could possibly help. My days went on like before. But I began dreading the sunset and the sinking feeling of disappointment that awaited me every time I opened my eyes. It wasn’t until I had a panic attack at my friend’s Thanksgiving party when I started thinking that there could be something really wrong.

It was, of course, psychological. I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression and put on Prozac. But my parents always suspected it could be something else — something hormonal. Something like menopause. I mean, once you head down that avenue, why not go all the way? So I met with a doctor in Bangkok Hospital Chinatown who took vials of my blood, sent away to Germany to be analyzed for whatever it was that could be making me batshit crazy.

I went away to the States to stuff myself with spinach-artichoke dip, tub-sized salads doused in blue cheese dressing, hamburgers capable of feeding a family of four and enough Buffalo wings to sink a miniature Titanic. This turned out to be a good decision. Because when I came back, Dr. Tanupol — spry, slim, blessed with the skin of a 10-year-old — told me that not only did I have an overactive adrenal gland and a creaky thyroid working at 50 percent capacity … but that I was also cursed with a host of food allergies that even Gwyneth Paltrow could be jealous of.

The list, helpfully alphabetized for my convenience, is long and even more insane than I am. Gluten, wheat, rye, barley, oats, spelt, wild rice. Cow’s milk, goat’s milk, sheep’s milk, and mare’s milk. Almond, asparagus, cashew nut, plaice. Eggs. Coconut and cherry. Heartbreakingly, mustard seed. I was to try to stay away from these items for six full months, until my body readjusted to the new battery of supplements he would prescribe me, to be taken daily and nightly, the hero to my wack wimmin’s issues because wimmin always be going cray. Only after six months could I be retested to see if I could really eat again. “You are Asian. You should just eat Asian food,” he said, forgetting that there is egg or coconut milk in almost everything worth eating.

Let’s be real: there is no way I can stay on this diet. Because PIZZA. PASTA. PIE. OTHER FOODS THAT DON’T BEGIN WITH P. Watching other people eat the food I want to eat is an interesting exercise in vicarious experience, aspirational living, and envy tempering. Like meditation, it’s a good mental exercise. At least that is what I tell myself.

So what to I do until then? Of all the street food that I could be eating, chicken rice falls squarely onto the top tier of things that I love (yes I know that soy sauce has gluten, but in the words of Donald Trump, give me a break). It’s a  Chinese-inspired street food dish found all over Asia, but no one quite does it like Thailand: the gingery, chili-spiked sauce, the fatty sheen on the rice, the tender hunks of poached chicken, the gleaming cube of blood. And the soup — it’s the soup, nowadays, that seems to set Thai chicken rice apart. Making a soup that will blow your socks off is the new black, and far easier than inventing yet another sauce to serve atop your chicken rice.

At Nai Thong (982/30 Soi Sathupradit 58, 02-682-4253, branch on Soi Soonvijai, 02-716-5664) the soup is a bracing, aromatic splash of lemon, grounded with a simmered slice of winter melon. It’s a soup eager to claim all the attention for itself, not content to play second fiddle to some tranches of boiled poultry. This would normally be annoying to me, because I delight in being annoyed by things. But not today. Not right now.

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Glutton Abroad(-ish): Fusionality

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Beef tongue stew at Pattakarn Ahgawe (Fu Mui Gee 2)

It’s become trendy in recent years to deride fusion, especially in Asia. This is probably because this region arguably plays victim to the greatest number of fusion-related culinary crimes in recent memory. Many diners are still old enough to remember the global fusion experiments of the 1980s, the jumble of Middle Eastern, Asian, European and what-have-you influences combined with the judiciousness of a Donald Trump backstage at a beauty pageant. With all its flavor bells and whistles, of course, Thai food was an ideal target. Many, many bad dishes resulted. It gave fusion a bad name, making its adherents look like fad-obsessed school kids doodling “Mrs. Green Curry Pizza” on their Trapper Keepers, forever too earnest, always trying too hard.

Things have swung the other way, where the pedigree of a dish is celebrated and the best recipe bloodlines harken back several generations (but not too far that the Chinese influence is gone and the dish is a tasteless mess). It’s in vogue to point out when dishes veer from the prescribed conventional wisdom, and (in Thailand at least) subject every restaurant with even middling pretensions to a test of ideological purity worthy of any Bernie bro. That’s not to say that this is coming out of nowhere; the government, if all those stories of tasting robots are to be believed, is in on it too. In an attempt to control how things taste, there is now an official way to cook things, an exercise as useful — and ultimately, auspicious — as my quest to lose 10 pounds.

I was thinking of this while eating kimchi quesadillas and short-rib tacos drizzled in a chili-soy vinaigrette at Kogi BBQ in LA, an example of the type of fusion food people hate, except when they love it, because it tastes so good. Yes, a Korean and Mexican melange sounds like the very worst sort of foodie fever dream, a mishmash of two Southern Californian-favored cuisines that seem to have only “Hey, we’re not white” in common. Who knew it could be this delicious?

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Kogi kimchi quesadilla

Later on, in Sonoma, I dined on a heaping big plate of avocado chaat (cubed ripe avocado piled over potato and lashed with tamarind sauce and coriander chutney), kale pakoras and naan layered with ripe cherry, cheese and coriander at a restaurant called “Delhi Belly” — I know! I know that it sounds terrible! Do not scorn me, Bernie bro! But I enjoyed myself regardless, because that weirdness was something we would never see anywhere else. It was uniquely American and, so, covetable.

When asked at a dinner party once what my favorite Thai restaurant was, I said that it was Silom Pattakarn (which has since moved). The person laughed. “That’s not even Thai food,” he said. Which is true. It is an Asian translation of Western favorites, made with Asian ingredients and Asian cooking techniques. According to Chef McDang, this type of cooking might have originated in the court of Rama IV, who hired many Chinese cooks to create a menu of “Western” dishes for visiting dignitaries. This type of menu is now replicated by a (rapidly dwindling) stable of Chinese-Thai restaurants that sprouted up in the wake of World War II and introduced a new generation of Bangkokians to the West via this Chinese-Thai-European fusion. The dishes that all of these places had in common: beef tongue stew, steak salad, and an Anglo-Indian chicken “curry” that, on occasion, would be served with slices of toasted white bread.

I don’t know where Silom Pattakarn is now, so in its absence, I go to Pattakarn Agawe, located on Rama IX Soi 7 off of Rama IX Road (romanization is tricky for Thai words so it could also be Agave, Akaway, what have you). The beef tongue stew is the best I’ve had, but everything else is pretty good too. Just think: even though it’s the fusion that someone undoubtedly railed against those many years ago, today it’s still considered delicious enough to put into a category all its own.

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Chicken curry with a cucumber-shallot-chili relish

 

 

 

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Beauty contest

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Dry suki and sauce at Manop Sukiyaki

I know it’s not very cool of me, but I don’t like to watch Woody Allen films. It always ends up (excuse my French) pissing me off. This is just the stuff on the screen that I’m talking about, not even his personal life. Watching Husbands and Wives was downright excruciating.

Call me shallow, but I just can’t get past the fact — especially with the mid-career Woody Allen stuff — that he got away with casting himself as a romantic lead in most of these movies. Even in the Annie Hall era, this requires more suspension of disbelief than I am capable of exerting. His movies require that you believe this man — who is constantly complaining, who always needs taken care of, who weighs less than me — is capable of drawing beautiful, frequently younger women to his side. Wassup with that? All those dry, pursed-lip onscreen kisses he has forced us to endure all of these years, like watching someone finish off a chicken wing while still trying to keep their lipgloss intact grossgrossgrossgrossGROSS. I mean, are all these women blind? And deaf? Juliette Lewis, what are you doing? Come on Diane Keaton, you got other options, gurl! Julia Roberts … well, ok, it already looks like she’s thinking of throwing herself into the Grand Canal. Just go ahead and do it, honey. Maybe a gondolier will sweep by and rescue you. I’d take my chances.

Of course, I can say this now, before my husband leaves me for a 24-year-old. I know this is the likeliest post-breakup option for him, because he has actually told me, to my face (“I won’t lie. I would go younger.”) Meanwhile, we live in a world where I would be forced to marry an octogenarian with (hopefully for him) impaired hearing because I have no marketable skills of my own. We could watch tennis and talk or not talk about soup all day. Maybe Woody Allen will be available by then and I will be forced to eat my own words. But who am I kidding? Woody Allen could get a 24-year-old if he wanted to, too.

I can’t say I’m the only shallow one around. People use appearance to figure out what food they want to eat, too. It shows in their choices: grilling chicken or fish, smoking on the grill or glowing white on the skewer over charcoal. Fresh chunks of mango piled sloppily over grains of rice glistening with coconut milk. Steaming noodles in broth with fish meatballs or a splash of bright pink fermented tofu sauce. It’s not hard to figure out why you would want to eat this stuff.

Unfortunately, the pleasures of Thai sukiyaki — adapted from the Japanese noodle dish but even more slatternly, sloppier — are not readily apparent. Ordered dry (hang), it’s a mess on the plate, a mixed-up melange of glass noodles, egg, green onion and whatever protein you’ve opted for, pork or chicken, beef or seafood. Even with broth (nam), it’s like Asian ribollita, an indiscriminate stew that suggests instead of shows. Yet the best versions of this dish make you forget that it’s a mess. Like a lot of Thai street food, the secret lies in the sauce.

At Manop Sukiyaki Rod Kraba (622 Soi Charoen Krung 27, 02-332-5516), suki is king, and the sauce (based on fermented tofu, spiked heavily with chilies) is the queen that made it all possible. Sure, there are dishes like guaythiew kua gai (chicken-fried noodles) and roast pork (chewy during rainy season because of the increased humidity), but they assume you are there for the suki. From 6 in the evening on, the back of a truck turns into a kitchen capable of churning out some of the best suki in the Chinatown area. The location is similarly as homely as the dish: an otherwise-abandoned alleyway with the occasional cat or cockroach. But unless you are absolutely sure this dish is the Woody Allen to your Mia, don’t turn back, don’t be deceived. You might be pleasantly surprised.

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Soi 38 Revisited

Today’s text from my friend James:

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I lol’ed in a taxi because it is true. There is a certain type of expat in Bangkok, who works hard and is good at his job, but is also unrelentingly miserable, eyes fixed on a future that will inevitably not involve Bangkok. This makes them turn to different outlets into which they can funnel all that energy and desire, and, since many of these expats are also terribly wholesome, those outlets are usually Type A competitive things that involve sports. Like Crossfit.

I know about this, because I was a Lonely Expat in Tokyo. I didn’t want to do the Lonely Tokyo Man ritual, which usually involved pondering life over a cup of coffee and a cigarette at a Jonathan’s on a Friday night. This was also pre-Crossfit, and I could not afford to join a Tokyo gym. So my weekends were spent walking from my place into Shibuya, which would burn up most of my Saturday. It made me feel like part of the city, as disconnected and alone as I was. For those few hours, I was just like everybody else. It was an outlet. It was my Crossfit.

There are different ways to Crossfit. What I mean is, where there’s a will, there’s a way. Just because George RR Martin takes 10 years to finish a book and “Game of Thrones” is nearing the home stretch of its television run doesn’t mean I will soon have to do without Jon Snow and Jaime Lannister — there are umpteen fan theory sites, sites dedicated to comparing “Game of Thrones” with real historical events, sites on which wonderful people create alternate universes in which my second boyfriend Rhaegar Targaryen comes back to rule the Iron Throne. If there is a need for something, that need will eventually be met. Sometimes, all one has to do is to simply be patient.

Much was made of the demise of Sukhumvit Soi 38 (by me?) but in reality, it hasn’t really gone anywhere at all. No, really, even though a few buildings have been leveled and Daniel Thaiger has decamped to greener pastures. There is, and will always be, a need for affordable street food in Bangkok, even on Sukhumvit. Many of the usual suspects are still there, like this mango sticky rice vendor — only in slightly different locations:

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You can still have this at Sukhumvit Soi 38

(Photo by Karen Blumberg)

Soi 38 has become less of a collection of street food vendors loosely congregated around the mouth of a soi and more like a Singapore-style hawker center, mostly located in the basement of Sutti Mansion (plus a few holdouts — mainly the OG Soi 38 vendors — who are now clumped further along into the soi). The “food court” looks like this:

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Here, located in the sub-soi off of 38 which still hosts the fruit shake, mango sticky rice and pad Thai vendors, you can get: khao soy, Isaan food, Japanese favorites like ramen and curry rice, Chinese specialties, pork noodles, fish porridge, Chinese pork noodles (guay jab), chicken rice and egg noodles. Across from the pad Thai guy, Isaan-style salt-encrusted fish still grill on rotating skewers, pork satay still smoke over an open flame, and a new roti stall has set up shop. The seating is easy to get and it’s relatively cooler than out in the street. It’s also an altogether more manufactured, touristy experience. Beggars can’t be choosers, though, can they, especially when it comes to that mango sticky rice? (Longtime customers advise getting the mangos here and buying the sticky rice across the street at Khun Mae Varee.)

Old guard holdouts still cling to the main road, mostly along the left side of Soi 38. Beyond the other mango sticky rice vendor, there are still the yum (spicy salad), chicken rice, egg noodle, and Thai shaved ice dessert stands, plus pork trotter on rice (khao kha moo), more guay jab, more fish porridge (khao thom pla), fish noodles, and what are still my parents’ favorite Chinese-style egg noodles (bamee) in town. The only glaring omission is the Chinese-style congee (jok) place, which has moved to a sub-soi between sois 38 and 36. My advice: get to Soi 38 before stuff somehow reconfigures again and you are left searching for another Crossfit with which to sate your Sukhumvit street food needs.

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