First things first: I have been invited by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) to a workshop to better improve my blogging. Wish me luck!
Until then, the latest on what’s up with the streetbanthat’snotastreetbanwhatareyoutalkingaboutstreetfoodisfine. Mostly cleared away are Thonglor, Ekamai and Phra Khanong: this ban-not-ban came into effect April 17. Some areas around Siam, such as Henri Dunant Road, have been cleared for longer. I know this for a fact because it’s nigh-impossible for me to get a taxi nowadays when I leave the gym, since there are no longer streetside places for the drivers to eat. I have heard they have been relocated, but it sure would be nice to know where without having to go all Sherlock Holmes on every motorcycle driver that ever set foot in Siam.
This got me to thinking, and spurred me to finally (actually) read a blurb announcing an upcoming Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand (FCCT) panel on “Bangkok’s Street Food Future”. The gist is this: despite “misreported” city official comments about how street food is toast, it’s actually getting more regulated, and vendors have been moved from some city areas. The word “moved” is interesting: does that mean they are now serving food somewhere else? Or does that mean they have been “moved” to their houses, where they are now free to make noodles for their own faces? So nebulous a word, “moved”, “relocated”, etc. No worries though — since I don’t have a life, I will try to track a few of them down. Still missing the braised pork trotter lady from next to the Sports Club (as are all the taxi drivers I manage to flag down who are looking for her).
Yesterday, while walking down Silom, I did feel that some of the pavement was easier to walk down … has some of it been cleared? The only thing keeping me from saying that my stroll on the sidewalk was a wonderful experience was that there were still a whole lot of other people on the sidewalk, blocking my way. Maybe something can be done about that. In any case, all of that leisurely strolling quickly came to a halt once I got to Convent Road. It was street food up the wazoo: fruit shakes, pig’s trotter on rice, egg noodles with pork, soup noodles, all crowded in front of the 7-11 and various chain restaurants like groupies at a Motley Crue concert. Forced to walk single file down the road, desperately attempting to keep from tripping over a stray bag of groceries, negotiating the many umbrellas shading diners from the relentless midday heat, it felt … like Bangkok again. With nary a clipboard-carrying BMA official to be found.
Of course, if I’m on Convent, the first place I’m heading to is the vendor serving Thai-Muslim chicken biryani. Named simply “Khao Mok Gai Convent” (on Convent Road outside of Molly Malone’s), this place serves — and has served, for years — a whacking great portion of succulent, toothsome chicken thigh or leg atop a mound of sunshine-colored rice, festooned with deep-fried shallots and a Tinkerbell-sized bowl of sweet chili sauce. It’s wildly simple yet delicious, as is the chicken soup that you should not do without as accompaniment: clear chicken broth flecked with anonymous chicken parts and the same deep-fried shallots, bits of fresh coriander leaf, and a mashed base of fresh bird’s-eye chilies. It is tart and bracing where the biryani is generous and comforting, the yin to that yang. I am willing to bet there is no better lunch on that road, inside or out.