Because it’s so hot, I’ve been even lazier than usual about getting out and about with the street food. It took a handful of text messages and maybe a phone call or two before my friend Chris could gently pry me off of my couch and into the real world, where people move around on sidewalks and take crowded Skytrain rides and, yes, even sweat. Although Chris swears that the temperature in Bangkok has only been hovering around the mid-to-late 30s (and where else can you say “only in the mid-30s”? Very few places), I swear this city is the hottest its ever been, and that it’s foolish to even pretend to go about your daily business, because the world is crumbling down around our very ears (earthquakes? A tornado? Never before in Thailand, in my lifetime).
A good meal will make your forget these things momentarily. So will a good drink, but it’s noon, and things are not (yet) as dire as all that. So when Chris takes me to the far end of Nana (past the entertainment complex, past the various Indian restaurants, and what appears to be a fairly new gigantic Subway), we end up in the kind of relatively quiet, sedate neighborhood that you’d expect to find much further from the pulsing heart of the city’s nightlife center. Right before the street dead ends into a factory sits the Thai-Chinese restaurant Ros Niyom (172-174 Sukhumvit 4 Nana Tai, 02-255-0991), an aharn tham sung (made-to-order) spot that specializes in pet palo, or duck braised in 5-spice sauce. You can tell this is what to order from the ducks hung from their necks in front, where a fairly taciturn lady silently dissects duck meat and skin for practically every table in the restaurant. And it’s not just the duck meat that’s in demand here: also a specialty, the congealed blocks of duck’s blood served swimming in a duck broth, its jelly-like texture contrasting with the sour chili sauce ladled over the top.
The essence of everything that is ducky, with a generously-sized plate of rice and maybe a stir-fried garlicky bitter gourd shoot or two, and you’ve got a substantial lunch that could see you safely to dinnertime. Throw in a couple of bowls of beef noodles, the highly-recommend hae gun (deep-fried shrimp dumplings) and a couple of beers, and you can just forget about venturing out from under the safety of that restaurant awning for the next few hours, or, at the very least, until the next torrential downpour comes to take some of the bite out of this heat.