Category Archives: Chinese

Golden Oldie

Soft oyster omelette, or aw suan, at New Kwong Meng

Getting old sucks. Granted, there are some people who rhapsodize about how it brings a new maturity, a deeper understanding of life, and some other useless blahbadiblah that no one really ever wants, but these people are usually young (and therefore stupid. I can say this because I am old, and jealous). Age announces itself in a series of sharpening steps: first, the twinges and inexplicable aches upon waking; the stuttering metabolism that thickens the waistline; the sudden urge to pee in the middle of the night; the inability to sleep beyond 7 in the morning; the face that suddenly, startlingly, turns into your Grandma’s one morning.

Before you know it, you are sitting over beers with another old fart, reminiscing over that one time Digger lost his satellite phone in the Khyber Pass and when Scoop got tipsy at lunch and threw tomatoes at the bureau chief. Who is this person? How did this happen? Where was I this whole time? These are questions that will never get any satisfying answers.

New Kwong Meng Restaurant (4-8 Padsai Road, or Yaowarat Soi 19; 02-224-2201, 02-224-2170, open 11-2, 5:30-9) is a whole five years older than me, but it seems to be wearing its middle age well, the bitch. Part of a string of excellent Teochew restaurants (I’m told most Chinese-Thais are Teochew, or Chaozhou) tucked into the Old Market side of Yaowarat Road, New Kwong Meng reminds our parents of the days when they were young and sprightly. This is probably why it is packed with, uh, our parents and all their friends. Young, hip and happening, this is not, but is that the point?

It is not when you are confronted with a soft, silky aw suan (soft oyster omelette) studded with succulently large oysters, a heartbreakingly tiny suckling pig enveloped in a crackly sheen, and slivers of finely sliced raw — is that sea bream? — strewn with sesame seeds and accompanied by a sweet soy dipping sauce.

Thai-Chinese "sashimi"

There is goat “ham”, festooned with white asparagus that looks suspiciously like it came out of a can, but a big favorite are what look like razor clams, sauteed with Chinese kale and shiitake mushrooms. Actually, they look like something else, but I’m not sure what that would be, really I’m not.

Clams, greens, mushrooms

And since every Chinese meal must end with some sort of starch, New Kwong Meng sends out a whopper: a delicately pan-fried sheaf of e mee (fried egg noodles), crispy outside and buttery within, topped with strips of ham and accompanied by a sour black vinegar Thais call “zisho”. This version is as good as the e mee anywhere in Bangkok.

New Kwong Meng's e-mee

I could go on, and talk about what we had for dessert, and how I drank too much strange Chinese whisky, and how we stumbled down the stairs into the night, where it wasn’t as hot as we expected it to be. There were wrong turns taken down winding Chinatown roads, and promises to not lose touch ever, and BFF presents exchanged that didn’t get opened. I could go further, but I’m tired, and late for my nap.

 

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Filed under Asia, Bangkok, Chinatown, Chinese, fish, food, noodles, seafood, Thai-Chinese, Thailand

Eating in the Year of the Rabbit

Tan Jiao Sua, ancestor to the Chinatown Bunnags

Every Chinese New Year, I look forward to coming to Yaowaraj, or what Thais call their Chinatown. I am not of Chinese descent, so every little ritual —  the burning of mini-replicas of cars and money, the praying to the ancestors, the giving and receiving of tiny little envelopes — holds a particular fascination for me. How did I go through my 70+ years without ringing in the year of the dragon or tiger or pig? How could I have missed out on those years of silky noodles, wobbling pork legs, glistening oranges?

New Year's offerings

So at the crack of dawn we bundle up and make our way down to Chinatown in the hopes of reconnecting with other family members and paying homage to Tan Jiao Sua, the ancestor of my husband’s particular branch of the Bunnag family, descended from Somdet Chao Phraya Pichaiyat. The Bunnags are a very large family with a gigantimongous number of branches, but all historical accounts point to Persian merchant Sheikh Ahmad, who moved to then-Siam in the 17th century, as the first Bunnag ancestor.

Now, the various branches are designated by where they come from: there are Thonburi Bunnags, Ayutthaya Bunnags and Chinatown Bunnags, descended from  Tan Jiao Sua, a former bottle seller in Chinatown who made his fortune after siding with the government during the Chinese uprising. He eventually saw his only daughter married to a Bunnag, and the Pichaiyat branch was born. At the height of their wealth, this family’s holdings included half of Yaowaraj; today, the “company” is all that is left.

But while the history is interesting, what really brings me here is the prospect of stuffing my face. Every year, at the “company” — what my husband’s family  members call their building in Yaowaraj — stands are set up offering oyster omelettes, chicken noodles, Chinese-style rice porridge and braised fatty pork leg. Later in the day, the family elders throw fist-sized gold coins into the air, sending all us “young” people scrambling, abandoning all pretense at dignity as we elbow three-year-olds out of the way to our booty. Later, as those crybabies weep into their baby formula, we gloat and hoot and let the heavy, shiny coins slide through our fingers, counting as we go.

I might be kidding about the last part. Really I am looking forward to the food. But this year, we arrive too early to get at the stands and their bounty. Instead, we are met by a bitter, harassed cleaning lady who says she is working all alone and needs help to get everything ready. So we do what any responsible adult would do and run far away, hiding in the second-floor cafe where we gorge on buttered, white toast and sausage of indeterminate origin, squealing at the occasional cockroach.

Later we go home before most of the family members arrive and are met with a welcome sight: the kind delivery of a vat of braised fatty pork leg, some bowls of clear bamboo shoot soup, and rice. So that is what we have, thinking that the Year of the Rabbit, so far, isn’t so bad after all.

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

Home in a Bowl

It’s been a hard transition back after three weeks of being a guest to other people’s lives. Now, it’s back to my own, and as great as it is, it also bears its own strange frustrations. For example, I’m working on a project that will never be finished. It just won’t. I have made a handful of sacrifices to edge it along to this point: throwing good money after bad, poisoning what used to be healthy relationships, transforming into a dyspeptic harpy. I have decided that these sacrifices are not worth it. I have moved beyond denial and anger to acceptance. TIT. This Is Thailand.

Is this bowl of comfortingly soggy rice, doused in pork broth and topped with a dusting of sliced scallions and indifferently poached egg, the taste of resignation? If so, resignation tastes pretty good to me. Located at the entrance to Charoen Krung Soi 16, this no-frills food cart employs a similarly Spartan approach to its rice porridges: good quality broth, stewed with pork bones for so long it has taken on an opaque, cloudy quality and a generous spoonful of bone-in pork pieces to guarantee a bowl full of piggy flavor.

Regular pork-rib porridge with egg

Regular (tamada) bowls are 35 baht, 40 baht with egg or for an extra-big serving of rice or pork (piset). And the guardian of this enterprise comes in the form of a gregarious gentleman, partial to form-fitting white tank tops, who is patient with questions and with giving directions. What more can you ask for? Thailand can confound and frustrate, yes, but it also harbors the path toward your own redemption. I am eagerly awaiting mine.

Khao Thom Gradook Moo, entrance to Charoen Krung 16. 089-682-0016.

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

Glutton Abroad: Full of crab in HK

I never miss hairy crab season in Hong Kong. For the past six or seven years, when the “cold” weather comes around, I have faithfully trekked to this sun-soaked little spot in South China. The thing is, I sometimes end up having to do some strange things in order to get to that hairy crab (without having to endure a corresponding dent in my bank account, that is. Ahem).

Which brings me to this packed supermarket in Wan Chai, staring at a row of beer bottles, and debating whether to choose the popular Tsingtao or the vastly less expensive Pabst Blue Ribbon (half the price of the Chinese beer, to be exact). Not a beer drinker myself, I am tempted to spring for the PBR and let the chips fall where they may. I then remember that I will soon be sailing in the middle of a very large body of water, and that some people on board will want to throw me into it.

We are buying supplies for a boat race from Hong Kong to Shenzhen, a boat race that ends up not being a boat race (at least on the first day), halted by authorities of something for some reason or other in the hours before it is due to start. My heart silently lifts, thinking I will be spared a five-hour boat ride to the mainland, only to plummet minutes later when it is decided: we will “go at around the same time other people go, to the same destination”, my husband acting in some important sailing capacity and me as weight.

I could bitch and moan for pages about the rest of that trip; how I endured moments of terror each time our boat tipped through another white-lipped swell, and how later, when I got sick, I didn’t care what happened to us.  But I’ll leave it at this. I’m still alive. And I had plenty of hairy crab to console me.

Holy crab!

Hairy crab, also known as “freshwater crab”, are called that for the seaweed-like “hair” around their claws, and come from eastern Asia. They are prized for their sweet, tightly bound meat and, at around the end of each year, the dabs of glutinous rice-like eggs underneath their carapaces, which are too yummy to be adequately described. The best and biggest, I am told, are said to come from a certain lake near Shanghai, where the “slime” at the bottom is apparently ample, giving each crab a proper workout. Although hairy crabs are sourced from all over the place, only a handful of HK restaurants have a certificate allowing them to purchase crab from this one lake. The following place is one of those restaurants.

Hang Zhou (1/F, Chinachem Johnston Plaza, Johnston Rd.)

Before I start, I’d like to talk about an invaluable tool to anyone who wants to ensure they get a good meal in Hong Kong (aside from very accommodating and generous friends, which we also had): www.openrice.com. This site recently started up an “English” version, enabling tourists to get the nitty-gritty from the locals.

However, I put “English” in quotation marks, because a lot of the time what is said is a little too local. For example: “I ate (insert Chinese character here), which was so so good! Make sure you (insert Chinese character here)” — turning a lot of reviews into a sort of madlib in which you can feel free to insert whatever your heart desires at the moment. I find this strangely mirrors a lot of interaction in HK nowadays, where people seem to speak a lot less English than they used to (“why don’t anyone speak amerikin, goddamit?!”), making verbal interaction a sort of mental madlib where there is only one right answer.

Ordering in Hang Zhou — and everywhere else we went, for that matter — went a little like this: “I would like honey ham.” “Huh? Somethingsomethingsomething ham somethingsomething pork?” Then you would be forced to repeat “honey ham” over and over again like an idiot until someone said “Ah! Honey ham!” In a way, it was a little like ordering in Thailand for me, but in English instead of Thai.

So, here, we did finally get that honey ham: slivers of ham paired with crackling skin, shoved into a steamed white bun and dipped in the ham’s honey-like sauce. There was a succulent baked fish with halved cherry tomatoes for eyes; a virtuous mound of braised spinach; shell-on shrimp in a shallow pool of tea; and row upon row of hairy crab. There was also what we were told was a “beggar’s chicken”: an entire bird wrapped in lotus leaf and baked — easily our favorite discovery here.

The "special baked chicken"

Him Kee Hotpot (1 & 2/F, Workingfield Commercial Building, 408-412 Jaffe Rd)

Woman need not live by hairy crab alone. This friendly and, uh, aromatic hotpot place allowed us to order a host of ridiculous things and two different broths (one, mild with corn and carrots; the other, thick with the tongue-numbing, thick-shelled Sichuan peppercorns). We ate many things, most of which we did not finish: a mountain of tofu, platters of mushroom caps, baby bok choy, slivers of beef, and goose intestines — delightfully springy and creamy, all at once. My favorites were the pre-hotpot offerings of snails, slathered in chilies and deep-fried garlic. But — sob! — the plates of bacon were left half-eaten.

An immobile feast

A new thing for me: chicken testicles. They ended up being surprisingly big, if I may say so myself (a little bigger than the pad of my thumb). Blanched in the broth, their tense, elastic texture gave way to a creamy burst of liquid when bitten into (and this will be the first and last time you read a sentence like that on this blog).

Dude, where's my balls?

Spring Deer (42, Mody Rd., 1st Fl., Tsimshatsui Kowloon)

I had been looking forward to going to a Peking-style hotpot restaurant ever since reading about it on @e-ting’s blog. How bitterly disappointed I was, then, to discover that it was FULL on the only day I was free to go. Thinking I would then end up wandering around the Elements mall, the lovely concierge at the W pressed this card into my hand and said, “This is very traditional. I will make a reservation.”

Needless to say, I lurved it. And not really for the food. Spring Deer is mainly serviced by a staff of white-coated old men, reminding me of the very old restaurants in Rome where the average age of the server is around 55. Unobtrusive, swift, and discreet (no guffaws of incredulity at the amount of food we order, the server simply tries to run away when he thinks we’ve had enough), the service here is among the best we’ve ever had in HK, and that’s including Caprice et al.

The signature dish, of course, is the “world famous Peking duck”, a dish we’re told requires two staff cooks who make 100 ducks a day. It’s different from the kind we get in Bangkok: rounds of smoky flesh are still attacked to the crispy skin and wrapped in thicker, floury pancakes with slivers of cucumber and leek and an inky plum sauce.

Spring Deer's Peking duck

Aside from a multitude of other dishes that I’ve clean forgotten (unable to gauge when a lot is too much, we usually stop ordering when the waiter tells us “I think that’s enough”), we ordered deep-fried mutton, not as nice as the duck. Chewy like a sort of makeshift jerky, it’s paired with a vinegary sauce that is meant to cut through the fattiness but doesn’t quite manage it.

Deep-fried mutton

Yung Kee (32-40 Wellington St.)

Everyone knows Yung Kee. But I’d never eaten here before. I am ashamed to say I can’t tell you how many times I passed by this restaurant on my way to some dodgy place in Lan Kwai Fong. So when our friend suggests going here, there is nothing to do but agree.

This restaurant is, obviously, an HK institution — the equivalent of what La Tour d’Argent used to mean to Paris. We’re told it seats thousands of people per meal, and that the higher the floor, the better the food. Of course, the dish we are all supposed to order is the roast goose. So we do, and we do again (no one here stops us, or even blinks an eye). We order deep-fried spare ribs, goose webs in abalone sauce, sauteed scallops in XO sauce, deep-fried beancurd, eggplant with mushrooms, braised duck in orange peel and platter upon platter of garlicky greens. We order until we can’t bear to look at our plates again, and after that, we order mango pudding. We order a lot.

Goose, goose, deep-fried beancurd

Kam Fung Cafe (41 Spring Garden Lane)

Our last meal before boarding the plane involves sweet, soft hot buns split and stuffed with heart attack-inducing slabs of salted butter, surprisingly savory eggy tarts that break apart when you bite into them, and cup upon cup of milky tea. We’re at Kam Fung Cafe, sharing tables with strangers who are surprisingly friendly, and watching locals consume bowls of what appears to be an HK-style version of Western food: soupy macaroni or egg noodles, topped with a runny fried egg or slivers of cooked ham. The ultimate in comfort food, after days of fatty fowl and chicken balls, trekking from Shenzhen to HK and back again, enduring seasickness and a rugby game where I am accidentally doused with beer by an irate NZ fan aiming at a gloating Aussie (in all fairness, he was pretty annoying). I am tempted, but still too full.

Breakfast

Next up, I will embarrass myself not once, not twice, but FIVE times on various golf courses throughout the Pacific Northwest, all for the privilege of dining at Portland’s Castagna and Seattle’s Lark. Because someday, eventually, I will be hungry again.

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Filed under Asia, beef, chicken, Chinese, dessert, duck, food, Hong Kong, pork, restaurant, seafood

Accidental Fusion

 

Chicken stew at Lertros

 

The four of you who read this blog may have noticed I’m not writing as often as I used to. The answer: I’m busy watching television. It’s called “having priorities”. Give me a break, mom, dad, @SpecialKRB and Mrs. Silverman! Haha, just kidding. My mom doesn’t read my blog.

But now that StarWorld is showing a rerun of “Britain’s Next Top Model”, I find I have the time to talk about my new favorite rediscovery. I’ve been rereading David Burton’s “The Raj at Table” and have been struck all over again about how historical events seep, unwittingly, into a country’s culture and cuisine. A silver lining from the British Raj: the ingrained sense of “superiority” that went with England’s colonization of India resulted in “English” food created from Indian ingredients that ended up an entirely new cuisine.

Not surprisingly (sorry Britons, I love Welsh rarebit as much as the next guy, but…), that culinary influence did not really go both ways. The English way of cooking had little impact on the Indians. But the ingredients they managed to transplant to their adopted country had tons: cabbage, lettuce, tomatoes (referred to as “love apples”), green beans, avocados and corn. Without the West’s potatoes, the Indians would not have come up with aloo gobi; without spinach, no saag paneer.

All the same, a lot of English food got more “Indianized”, and an entirely new Anglo-Indian fusion resulted, the most famous dishes of which are probably kedgeree (a rice porridge featuring smoked fish like Finnan haddock, which is why many mistook this dish for Scottish) and mulligatawny soup (what cynics called the “remnants of yesterday’s curry” in liquid form).

But there were other, no less noble, creations: country captain (chili- and turmeric-infused chicken); corned beef bhurta (borne out of the scarcity of beef in Hindu India); sweet potato chapatis; a”Madras Club Pudding” (using mostly dried fruit instead of the more expensive sugar for sweetness); and a “Sandhurst Curry” served in the officers’ mess alongside sliced bananas and shredded coconut. Many of these dishes, in some form or other, trickled their way through English cuisine, lending a touch of the tropical to the stoic roasts and hearty puddings of the north.

But I’m rambling. Again. I love these old-style dishes and have vowed to recreate them for my long-suffering friends and family (who have already had to put up with any number of “retro American” dinners of “perfection salad” and tuna tetrazzini) because they are perfect snapshots of an interesting point in time, irresistible to this girl who majored in Indian history (because I loved the food. Yes, really.)

Which is why I love going to Lertros Alacarte (74 74/1 Silom Soi 4, 02-234-3754). Its old-school diner ambiance — sort of like where the two old guys in “the Muppets” would hang out if they were to live in Thailand — is totally my style, and some of its food specials — a fusion of Thai-Chinese and Western — are becoming increasingly hard to find elsewhere.

Like the Indianized Anglo-cuisine of the British Raj, the story of this food (Chinese-style curries, chicken and tongue “stews”, minces and pork pate, or moo yaw) is primarily a political one. According to Chef McDang (yes, he has basically taught me all I know about non-Northern Thai food), King Rama IV sought to entertain the various Western officials at his court by  serving “Western” food. He used chefs who learned to cook in the employ of British officials; these chefs were almost always Chinese. The result: Western ingredients cooked with Chinese techniques.

So for one of the oldest forms of Thai-Western fusion out there, look no further than Lertros. And if you see Statler and Waldorf, steer clear.

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Filed under Asia, Bangkok, chicken, Chinese, food, restaurant, rice, Thai-Chinese, Thailand

Caught in the culture wars

 

Thai food: a focal point of the culture wars

 

I vowed never to talk about this again, but Sunday’s “Bangkok Post” opinion piece about the state of Thai cuisine drove me, once again, to the keyboard (I don’t have many interests, and nothing else to talk about). Like a Katherine Heigl movie, it starts out reasonably enough, and then somehow turns crazypants somewhere in the middle.

The basic premise is, modern Thai food has atrophied as a result of the culinary shortcuts commercial cooks take today, resulting in processed dreck that bears little resemblance to the dishes they are supposed to be (while this is very true, it sounds a little to me like running into a McDonald’s and complaining, “Why do they only use cheap ingredients? Why is everything so poorly made? Where is the care and thought put into my hamburger?”)

The media also deserve blame for the commodification of Thai food, concerning themselves only with “tasting this or that dish” and on “atmosphere and decor rather than offering any real knowledge concerning the food” (Because NO ONE cares about that stuff! Silly journos. Tell me once again about how the Indians and/or Portuguese inspired coconut milk-based curries).

Because of these shortcuts, Thais DESERVE to lose their mastery of their own cuisine. Because we’re so stupid! Now David Thompson has blown into town and his place is packed and that sucks, because our lives suck and so his should too! But we’ve done this to ourselves, because we bear witness to culinary crimes like this:

“…pizza with a dry version of gaeng kiew waan luk chin pla or with dry tom yum goong. These combinations are a slap in the face to both the Thai and Italian cooking traditions.”

First of all, what’s with all the slaps in the face? Is there no other way for writers here to convey getting insulted? No tug on the ear, perhaps, or maybe a kick in the pants? Get a new rhetorical device!

Secondly, well, I am no fan of crap-topped pizza either. That said, I’m sure someone probably thought tossing spaghetti with pla kem (salted fish) and dried chilies was once a daft idea, too. Now you wouldn’t bat an eye seeing this dish on a menu. And how did Thais take to the first bowl of khao soy, a “fusion” creation of egg noodles and coconut milk said to be invented by cooks in Chiang Mai from a dish originated by the Chin Haw Chinese-Muslim minority group?

 

Khao soy at Khao Soy Islam

 

(photo by @SpecialKRB)

I was lucky enough to get the chance to help work on the first English-language cookbook by Thai TV chef McDang (“The Principles of Thai Cookery”, in case you’re interested — it’s very good! Not that I’m biased or anything …) In it, Chef McDang discusses quite clearly how all the different parts of a Thai meal fit together (a minimum of five elements: a clear soup, a curry, a fried dish, a stir-fried dish, and a kreuang jim, or chili dip with vegetables), why Thais use forks and spoons (in order to kluk, or mix the different elements of the meal together to your liking), and how all the ingredients in a Thai dish are supposed to interact. That’s why traditional Thais get all crazy about substitutions like onions for shallots, or adding spring onions instead of coriander leaves.

That said, Thai cuisine is also the beneficiary of a number of foreign influences that have seeped in from interaction with the rest of the world over the course of Thailand’s history. In the Sukhothai period (1238-1438), we were scarfing down fish, fruit and wild boar on rice flavored with peppercorns, cilantro roots and palm sugar. And then, in the Ayutthaya period (1351-1767) the Portuguese came along, and gave us this:

 

"Golden threads" and "golden drops": traditional Thai sweets that are also Portuguese

 

They also introduced us to eggs, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants and sugarcane; co-introduced us to savory uses for coconut milk; and showed us a crazy new way to flavor our food with these things called “chilies”. They also found a way to form a curry custard by mixing fish and egg and steaming it; the result was called hor mok:

 

Steamed seafood curry at Aor Thor Kor

 

(Photo by @SpecialKRB)

And then there were the Chinese. What to say about the Chinese? Without them, Thai food would not be “Thai food”. From them we got: shrimp paste, fish sauce, the use of duck meat in cooking, pans, stir-frying, and frying. Another innovation: an interesting alternative to rice in the form of long, thin strands of rice flour (and sometimes egg-based flour), which can be served in soup, blanched, fried, or even in desserts. They are popular in Thai street food, so keep your eyes peeled for this rare, strange delicacy:

 

Bamee at Sukhumvit Soi 38

 

So sometimes fusion isn’t so bad after…..zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzOh, sorry, you’re still here?

Thailand is at a point in its history where its future — like that of the rest of the world — is uncertain. Maybe people are unsure of where they stand and so long to return to a time when things seemed more secure. Food serves as a convenient stage on which to act out this current identity crisis. But that doesn’t mean we should shut out foreign influences, or, for that matter, a foreigner who is doing the exactly same thing as us.

 

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Filed under Asia, bamee, Bangkok, celebrity chefs, Chinese, curries, food, food stalls, Japanese, noodles, Portuguese, restaurant, rice, Thai-Chinese, Thailand, TV chefs

Markets: the Original

Where I grew up, there where a place where the cool kids used to hang out called “the O”. It stood for “the Original”, although to be frank I have no idea how many versions of this Pittsburgh hot dog shop had to exist in order to necessitate singling yourself out as the “original” one. It’s not like Pittsburgh is awash in hot dogs — although I do remember fondly the O’s “disco fries” (our version of the Canadian “poutine”, which does not seem like a very evocative name for these cheese-slathered, bacon-topped deep-fried potato slivers. Heaven on a plate!)

What’s that? I’m supposed to be talking about something you might be interested in? Oh yes, that’s right. This:

Thai "pla tu" on sale at Nang Lerng market

It’s Nang Lerng market, located in the Banglamphu area on Nakhon Sawan road. This is supposed to be the very first wet market to ever sprout up in central Bangkok. What I do know for sure is that, like all of Thailand’s wet markets, it’ a load of fun to visit and the go-to place for some pretty hard-to-find old-style delicacies, such as the glutinous pork-filled rice balls, eaten with lettuce leaves, fresh coriander and chilies — a sweetly piquant mass of satisfying goo in the mouth.

Or old-style haw mok (steamed seafood mousse in banana cups), a Portuguese-influenced concoction combining local ingredients with European technique:

Steamed seafood mousse topped with coconut cream and shredded kaffir lime leaves

Then there are the delicacies that you actually do want to eat, like coconut ice cream trad-style, in a little plastic cup and festooned with roasted peanuts.

Fresh coconut ice cream

But if you do make it over there, do not miss Roongroj, the duck noodle shop at 141,143 Nang Lerng market. A popular with politicians who send their drivers over at noon for some lunchtime takeaway, Roongroj deserves its reputation as a shop with an extensive menu, efficient service and generous portions of sweet, toothsome duck.

Egg noodles with duck

The choice is extensive: stewed duck, braised duck, duck in pullo (Chinese five-spice and cinnamon broth) are all there, plus stewed chicken, barbecued pork and some very  nice giew (Chinese dumplings). Yes, if the duck or noodles haven’t tipped you off already — this food is Chinese. But then again, what noodle stand in Thailand ultimately isn’t?

Three different orders at Roongroj duck noodles

It’s open every day, and from late morning to well into the evening, so it’s hard to miss out on getting yourself a bowl. Do yourself a favor and trek over into the old part of town; basking in the atmosphere of the “original” wet market is worth it.

(Photos by @SpecialKRB)

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Filed under Asia, bamee, Bangkok, Chinese, duck, food, food stalls, markets, noodles, Thai-Chinese, Thailand