Little mysteries

After what seems like a lifetime, I’m back at home, ignoring the wobbling towers of correspondence that have popped up, like furtive mushrooms, all over my house. I’m not ready to deal with Real Life just yet. So let’s procrastinate with a lil’ post before the chore monster intrudes once again!


(Photo by Marijke Whitcraft)

You know you’re back when you’re at Emporium, minding your own business, and a Hitler-themed music video appears on the monitors, complete with faux-Fuhrer moustaches and synchronized “Sieg Heil” choreography. It’s by a Thai music band named (I’m not making this up) Slur, the song is called “Hitler”, and there’s a disclaimer in the beginning about how they don’t want to “offend anyone” with this video, but, uh, count me (and my ears) offended anyway, which is why I’m not linking to it. What’s next, dressing up as “Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge Trio”? A dance routine in matching Idi Amin costumes? If you’ve done something really really bad and want to punish yourself, then by all means search for it on Youtube. It’s a mystery why people thought this video might be a good idea.

I’ve been busy pondering a lot of little mysteries lately. How can my body stubbornly cling onto its blubbery layer of flesh, regardless of the number of calories ingested? How do you make a lobster bisque using a coffee machine? Why does Winona Ryder go for Ethan Hawke in Reality Bites? Life is blooming with these puzzles, maybe because I’m on a huge Agatha Christie kick and have been reading one mystery after another (yet my Jonathan Safran Foer languishes unread. I go for the real quality stuff, I do).

But today I’m not in the mood to contemplate yet again the mysterious case of Bangkok Glutton and the Disappearing Ankles. I’ve got a new mystery to uncover, literally: What is in those intriguing lotus leaf-wrapped parcels sold streetside on Rama IV?

Lotus leaf-wrapped parcels, so mysterious!

Turns out it’s khao haw bai bua, or “lotus leaf rice” — wrapped in a convenient little package and steamed with gingko nuts, sliced pork, shiitake mushrooms, lotus seeds, Chinese sausage, dried shrimp and salted egg, a substantial hit of starchy flavor. There are two places along Rama IV (roughly across from the entrance to Sukhumvit Soi 22), a shophouse and a stand; the shophouse is the original and called “Khao Haw Bai Bua Lung Chu”.

The rice parcels are 35 baht each, and there are also Chinese-style steamed shrimp dumplings (kanom jeeb), 10 for 30 baht; flat stuffed rice noodles (guay thiew lod), 25 baht; and steamed white Chinese buns (salapao), 7 baht each or 3 for 20 baht. Atmosphere recalls a mix between an old-school Chinese restaurant and a nursing home, so I suggest calling in to take out.

What's inside

Khao Haw Bai Bua Lung Chu

2815 Rama IV Rd., 02-240-1812, 081-242-2533

Open: 8.00-24.00 daily


Filed under Asia, Bangkok, food, food stalls, pork, rice, Thai-Chinese, Thailand

9 responses to “Little mysteries

  1. SpecialKRB

    The old man in the diaper? Benjamin Button? I still barf a little in my mouth when I think about that guy spitting between his feet at the khao thom pla restaurant in Chinatown.

  2. Jarrett

    Very nice photo Ms Glutton.

    I too visit that shop from time to time, when I cannot get a taxi on Rama 4. They also make a very serviceable char siu bao (steamed roast pork bun). The last time I was there, tearing into my sweet, pork-fatty morsels, I looked behind the register and there was one very old man sleeping there, on a cot, in nothing but a diaper. It was sort of surreal.

    I hope that does not offend anyone.

    • Yes. The last time I went, I had to check out the restroom. When I turned around, I saw the same elderly man, as well as a woman. So…it’s better to order out, in my opinion.

      Thanks! I’ve been working on my photo-taking skillz!

  3. Re. completely clueless & offensive marketing, did you hear of the short-lived Khmer Rouge Cafe in Phnom Penh in the mid-2000s? Think the name was Black Flag. It was near the Toul Sleng museum, epicenter of the genocide. Opened by a coterie of young owners [foreign, I think, possibly from Asia], the waitresses wore Khmer Rouge style uniforms and served cuisine from that era. If you can call it cuisine.

    Needless it say its doors weren’t open for long.

    • Wow, clueless doesn’t even begin to describe it. Why don’t you and I open a little cafe devoted to the black plague? We can call it “Ring around the Rosy” and serve deep-fried rats.

  4. Thank you for a new food expedition. (And for re-evoking the many deep philosophical questions posed by Reality Bites!!!) When does your book come out? I am dying to read it and use it and embellish it with many food stains–all of which I will label with provenance and quality assessment…

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