There was a time when I was really busy, and I was complaining about that. Now that I am no longer busy, I would like to complain about this. I don’t know what happened, but somehow awesome work opportunities haven’t found their way to my couch. I guess it’s a cyclical thing.
So I’ve taken this downtime as the chance to focus on the things that really matter, like who has yet to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. There are some shocking (to me) omissions. I mean, everybody has their own (wrong) opinion, but there are some surprising people who haven’t been inducted yet, like Journey and Peter Frampton. Aren’t old white guys in this organization’s wheelhouse? The omissions that really rile me are the Pixies and Rage Against the Machine (yeah, I said it). I have a feeling people overlook the Pixies because they think Black Francis is an asshole, and because Rage Against the Machine are too rap-rock. But come on. The freaking Red Hot Chili Peppers were inducted in 2012!
No, instead they induct guys like Steve Miller, who doesn’t even really want to be there — who is, in fact, as annoyed as John Boehner yelling at a pack of trick-or-treaters to get off his lawn. Everyone is, again, entitled to expressing themselves, but if the ceremony was such a pain, why go man? Why not stay home in Margaritaville? Why this guy? Steve Miller is Easy Listening dressed up as rock music. It’s for the type of person who is too embarrassed to admit to themselves and others that they like Adult Contemporary. It’s the Coldplay of the ’70s, the music I turn on when I want people to leave my house.
Places like Victory Monument are the Steve Millers of food: incomprehensibly popular. They seem to have everything you want, but nothing is even remotely memorable. For the street food lover, the stretch along Rama IV between the boat pier and Klong Toey Market is far more overlooked — even by me. “Where to go tonight?” I ask my friend Dwight of bkkfatty.com, who is willing to come along with me for an evening trawl with Portuguese food lovers Goncalo and Joao. “Rama IV?” he suggests, and I say, “Oh yeah. I forgot about Rama IV.”
“Everybody does,” Dwight says, and it’s true. It’s just that Rama IV is just such a miserable stretch of road if you don’t know what you’re looking for. But if duck noodles and Thai-style shaved ice are on your radar, you’re on the right track. At Chia Duck Noodles (2856 Rama IV Rd. across the road from Esso gas station, 02-671-3279, also referred to as Xia, or Sia, because the romanization of Thai letters is so hard to pinpoint), noodles come awash in a rich, almost velvety broth of unsurpassing duckiness, festooned with a shower of deep-fried garlic, tender duck meat, cubes of duck blood and a flourish of fresh coriander. And that’s just the noodles. There’s also roasted duck on rice, and duck stewed in Chinese herbs, and platters of well-seasoned thigh meat and duck innards to contend with.
Noodles aren’t complete without dessert. Although I’ve been put out by the closure of Suan Luang Market and the shaved ice place that was my original go-to, I haven’t really gone out of my way to find its replacement. Thanks to Dwight, who appears to come to this place on a weekly basis, I now have a place I can (almost) walk to called Thao Tung Peng Ang, down the road from Chia. My favorite thing about Thai shaved ice is its flexibility: you have a choice of toppings that range from the Chinese-inspired (lotus root, gingko nuts, grass jelly) to the distinctly Siamese (selim noodles, tubtim grob, coconut jelly) in either longan juice, ginger syrup or coconut milk and topped with a generous mound of shaved ice. Even better is what Dwight came up with: a scoop of vanilla mixed with a swiftly frozen egg yolk, leaving a stripe of extra-fatty yellow through the cream and garnished with slivered candied mango. It was the best ending to an evening of street food and a nice reprieve from our unrelenting heatwave.