Category Archives: rice

The Far Side of Angst

Let me tell you a secret. Is it presumptuous of me to burden you with this so soon? It’s just that I feel such a bond, this far into our 30-second relationship — I feel like we’re two of a dust girdle kind, you and I.

It is a big surprise to all and sundry well-acquainted with my sunny personality, the privileged few who have been bombarded with my hemming and hawing, bitching and moaning, peanut butter and jelly-ing for the past 50-odd years, but: I am terrified of public speaking. Get me in front of a crowd of two or three and my knees start a-shakin’ and palms start a-sweatin’, the words in my mouth congealing into a mealy jumble that will make sense to no one, including myself.

Yet I continue to inflict myself upon unsuspecting bystanders because there is some sort of masochistic streak in me that says I MUST — somehow — persevere and someday — someway — emerge victorious. And I continue to fail, melting into a puddle of angst-ridden Robert Pattinson every time skeptical eyes lock onto me, daring me to say something of substance.

So it is with some trepidation that I said okay to the incredibly kind people at “Poh’s Kitchen”, a cooking show on ABC in Australia featuring Poh Ling Yeow, a chef/artist of Malaysian-Chinese heritage who got her start on “MasterChef Australia”. Aside from being beautiful and kind, Poh is a very knowledgeable cook, so it was a big surprise to get a call from her people suggesting that I might be able to show Poh around some of my favorite food spots and tell her something about Thai food.

I told myself I didn’t know anything about Thai food Poh didn’t already know herself. Envisioning a crowd of disappointed eyes compounded by the glare of the camera (and Lordy, am I familiar with that experience), I suggested a sheath of other names that they could use. I suggested I would be tied up with a possible trip abroad, a hair appointment, a heart attack. They were strangely insistent. I showed up, smudged from nausea and sleeplessness, having driven my husband crazy the night before with useless questions (“You’ll still be my friend, right?” was one of them).

For once, it wasn’t that bad. I did a lot of “uhs” and “absolutelys” (go ahead, down a shot every time I say one of those. I dare you.) I looked like Quasimodo next to Poh’s Esmerelda. But then I remembered that I would probably never, ever see this, and that realization was enormously freeing. As long as I could remain in my little bubble of denial, safe in the cocoon of the delusion that I was svelte and resembled the Asian Anouk Aimee, I would be OK.

Oh, are you still here? Did you think that I would be talking about food? Hahahahaha. Why would I do that, when I can blather endlessly about myself? But yes, it’s true: the day held yet another blessing. Hours spent roasting in a boat under the midday sun yielded — besides renewed exclamations of “Why are you so DARK?! You’re so DARK, isn’t she so DARK?!” — a sheltered Thai-Muslim community along Klong Saen Saep specializing in gorgeous fish-based nam prik, or so-called “chili paste”.

Readying ingredients for the camera

While the chili dips and nam prik gaeng that are used as the base for countless soups and curries form the bulk of what people think about when they think about nam prik, these are dried and used as a condiment, sprinkled over rice. Here, the most famous nam prik is the nam prik ruammit (mixed “nam prik”), incorporating little dried fish, dried shrimp, and grilled flaked fish with the requisite chilies (hand-roasted and pounded into a powder), palm sugar, tamarind paste, deep-fried shallots and garlic, fish sauce and lime juice.

Ingredients ready for a fresh nam prik

Not to get all earnest on you, but: it was eye-opening to see this beautiful community, self-sufficient (mosque, bank and houses are all canal-side and easily accessible via boat) and with an eye on sustainability (the waters are brimming with fish, and healthy gardens and pet cows are in abundance). Lunching on khao mok gai (Thai-Muslim chicken rice) and an especially fiery oxtail soup, I thought myself lucky, and my shriveled, withered old heart grew two sizes that day.

Glum Mae Baan Than Diew
Saen Saep, Minburi
Bangkok 10510
02-919-4777, 081-905-6974, 085-974-6791

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Filed under Asia, Bangkok, celebrity chefs, fish, food, food stalls, rice, seafood, Thai-Muslim, Thailand, TV chefs

Brazilian Days, Vol. 1

Christ the Redeemer overlooking Rio


(Photo by @SpecialKRB)

Tuesday, Day 1

9:00: It’s taken us a full day, two kilos of oversalted shellfish, and a trough of caipirinhas, but we have finally recovered from the 36-hour trip from Stockholm to Rio (via Berlin, Zurich and Sao Paulo). We are in Rio de Janeiro (‘River of January’), a glittering city of around 6 million which funnily enough does not have a river but a gigantic bay and many beaches. At breakfast, we watch impossibly toned and tanned beautiful people do yoga and practice a form of soccer-volleyball, all apparently without any hint of irony whatsoever. Afterwards, we meet our guide, Leonardo, who promptly learns that we will go anywhere and do anything, as long as we are fed well for our trouble. He pledges to take us to Porcao, one of Rio’s best-known churrascaria rodizios (barbecue houses), as soon as he can.

13:00: Thanks to a crowd of especially exuberant Koreans and a traveling samba band (“Now is the time for the samba,” says Leonardo, who cannot stand the samba) the tram trip up to Christ was amusing, but we are now in a post-giggle funk after being confronted with a snarl of traffic that just might rival the best Bangkok has to offer. Although Leonardo claims it is a bit early to stuff our faces, we are famished, and head to the nearest Porcao (Av Infante Dom Henrique, (021) 3461-9020) we can find. At Porcao (which, as @SpecialKRB points out, is pronounced “poor cow”), we find cuts of every part of the animal awaiting us including the rubbery hump (called cupim), plus a generously-proportioned buffet of “sushi”, salads and hot stews that we ignore until we are almost full. Luckily, I am wearing a maternity dress chosen especially for the occasion.
Confronting a skewer of fried chicken hearts
(Photo by @SpecialKRB)

After stuffing ourselves to near-bursting, we promise to never, ever eat ever ever again.

The man of our dreams with @SpecialKRB

Wednesday, Day 2

9:00: We break our promise at breakfast the next day, when I once again inhale an entire plate of cold cuts and cheese with plenty of bread, as I am told is the breakfast of choice for true cariocas (natives of Rio, which loosely translated in the local language actually means “house of the foreigner” or “house of the white man”. Go figure). This is especially interesting since it is very hard to find starches like this for lunch or dinner unless you actively ask for it. Is this the “Rio diet”? Only enough carbs to keep you regular and then not touching them after noon? Eating manioc like a maniac at ridiculous times of the day, like 3pm and 11pm? Will I lose a bunch of weight and write a diet book and become a famous weight-loss guru like Rocco DiSpirito? Only time will tell.

13:01: After spending the morning buffing the floors at the Palacio Rio Negro in Petropolis, the Brazilian royal family’s summer residence, we are officially starving. (“Would you DIIIIEEE if we have lunch later?” asks Leonardo. Yes, Leonardo. Yes, I think we would die.)

Nevertheless, we manage to hold off until 3pm, when Leonardo takes us to Urca, a neighborhood known for being exclusive and inhabited by members of the military. Here, we get our first taste of some delicious Brazilian snacks: bolinhos, coated in crumbs and deep-fried; pastels, wrapped in pastry like pierogies; and empadas, fillings set atop pastry (“open”) or enclosed completely (“closed”). These are all washed down with a glass of light draft beer (chopp) and can be found at any boteca or botequim.

Another dream man, with a tray of empadas

18:00: After another long day, we finally make our way to Academia da Cachaca (26 Rua Conde de Bernadotte Leblon, (021) 2529-2680), where a treasure trove of cachacas (sugarcane liquor) sourced from all points of Brazil awaits. We select several “doses” of this liquor, the names of which will remain locked in an alcohol-induced haze forever, and they all taste of either cloves, allspice, cinnamon, or caramel. We also order acaraje — a sort of kibbee-like deep-fried “football” of beans, accompanied by a fish stew and a “relish” of coriander, spring onion and dried shrimp — and a sun-dried beef escondidinho, which @SpecialKRB describes as a “shepherd’s pie filled with corned beef hash”.

Escondidinho


But our waiter draws the line when we try to get a feijoada completa (bean stew with all the fixings), simply refusing to let us order it. Leonardo agrees (“I am afraid you will DIIIIEEEE. You will simply drop dead”) and seems to think a waiter telling us we have ordered too much is an unusual occurrence. Everyone seems to think that, despite the late hour, we will eat dinner after this (“This is lunch,” says Leonardo with a straight face).

22:00: This is the thing. I love Rio in many ways: its laid-back, freewheeling optimism, its sunny weather, its easy-going and friendly people. But so much of it is the complete opposite of the doddering oldie I am today. Despite exhortations from every Brazilian we know to explore Rio’s vaunted nightlife — (“Don’t go there until 3am. You will find NOBODY,” Leonardo advises as we pass one famous nightspot. “This club is after-hours. You can go there at 6am.” He says later of another. “Come on,” he finally tells us when confronted with our ashamed, vaguely defiant faces. “Don’t be different”) — we cannot find the strength to stay awake. Leonardo is talking to the squarest, most boring people in the world.

Thursday, Day 3

13:00: Leonardo-less today, we finally make it to Casa da Feijoada (Rua Prudente de Moraes 10, (021) 2523-4994) where we get our black bean stew accompanied by braised pig tails, ears and trotters, rice, deep-fried pork rinds, fried collard greens, fried manioc, farofa (roasted cassava flour) and orange slices to cut the fattiness. We get both passionfruit and lime batidas (cachaca with fruit juice and ice) and a bottle of wine. This renders us comatose for the rest of the day. Finally sated, we stumble outside into the bright sunlight, spot vultures circling overhead and consider the beach for the rest of the day. I have not lost weight on this diet by any stretch of the imagination.

Pork rinds

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Filed under beef, Brazilian, food, pork, Portuguese, restaurant, rice

Roadside Buffets

The "curry rice" stand on Methenivet Road

While researching the street food book, I spent a lot of time formulating some sort of tried-and-true criteria that could be used to determine the kind of “street food stall” perfect for the book. I did this because I got a hella annoyed at stories that would claim to explore “Bangkok’s most authentic street food”, and then take you to the Food Loft at Central or something. I mean, I like the food there too, but come on. You are supposed to “suffer” for street food. You are supposed to wander aimlessly in the street as people say “there she goes again, that farang” and pretend you don’t understand, acting out the role of “clueless foreigner” in this bizarre trade-off people call “social discourse in Thailand”. You are supposed to sit at a rickety stool as the sweat pours off your face and people point and laugh and say, “Look at how uncomfortable she is! So funny!” or they politely pretend not to notice, which might be worse. Street food is an enterprise where the awards are commensurate with what you put into it. That’s just the way it is. (I know. We are all now wandering aimlessly down the length of this paragraph, wondering “When does this road end? The book did say it was supposed to be RIGHT HERE…”)

The thing is, I hardly had the wherewithal (or the stomach, to be frank instead of Glutton) to explore all the kinds of proper street food stalls that there are in Bangkok. That included aharn tham sung (made-to-order stalls, marked by raw ingredients arranged in front of the cook) and khao gub gaeng (“curry rice” stalls, marked by ready-made curry vats arranged in a row in front of the cook). I did briefly discuss, amid all the purple prose, the awesomeness of made-to-order stalls in a post here. Now, I’d like to talk about the tantalizing roadside buffet that is the khao gaeng stall.

Of all the stalls out there (except for maybe the nam kaeng sai, or iced dessert stalls), curry rice stalls are the most inviting Thai stalls around. Their purpose is to beckon to the grumbling stomach — here, you could be having this RIGHT NOW — instead of suggesting the promise of the future, as a made-to-order stall does. It appeals to the immediate in all of us, which is why our book features a particularly famous one on its cover (Mae Malee at Aor Thor Kor).

That said, there are so many stalls out there, on practically every street corner, most offering a variation of the following: green basil curry, usually chicken and/or chicken feet; stewed bitter melon stuffed with minced pork in a clear broth; stir-fried long beans in red curry paste; some sort of stir-fried Mama noodle or glass vermicelli with pork and chilies; stir-fried veggies; fried pork with garlic and black peppercorns; and fried eggs, yolks ready to break open at the slightest slash of a spoon. If it’s a particularly good one, you’ll also get maybe a yum (spicy sour salad), usually seafood, a gaeng jued (bland clear broth soup to counteract the spiciness of everything else) and something cool and ornamental, like kai luk kuey (son-in-law’s eggs, which are deep-fried and slathered in a sweet sauce. I once wrote a story about Thailand’s “foreign son-in-laws” for, oh, let’s call them Schmeuters, and my editors misunderstood and thought I was referring to “luk [something else]”, which was really, really annoying. Minds in the gutter, much? Anyway.)

Because I love eggs: krapao at a made-to-order stall

You might be wondering where the best place to find a khao gaeng stall may be. I would once have said the one on Sukhumvit 24, across the street from Emporium, but it has since disappeared, taking its green curry spaghetti with it. So let’s go with Krua Aroy-Aroy (it’s a favorite of Ferran Adria’s, after all!) at Thanon Pan, across from Maha Uma Devi Temple (Wat Kaek), 081-695-3339, open 8:00-21:00 daily. The laminated menus are gone! The massaman curry and nam prik platu are still there … just don’t order the nam ngiew (I’m sorry. I can’t help myself. It’s a sickness).

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Filed under Asia, Bangkok, curries, food, food stalls, rice, Thailand

Glutton Abroad: Tokyo Drift

Hanging in Tsukiji

I love Tokyo. Unlike Madame Bangkok — always striving to keep up with the Lees, obsessed with what the “neighbors” might think — Tokyo is unself-consciously, unabashedly itself: scruffy in patches, unafraid to be a little seedy, but always surprising in the best kinds of ways. It has its glam side, its traditional “Nihonjin” side, its gaijin side. But you have to look actively for all of it. And at the center of all this, the spirit of the city somehow remains the same, never-changing. Of course, the flip side to this is that Tokyo can also be crushingly lonely. Alienation is also very “Tokyo”.

Well, you may not know it, considering the inexplicable fondness harbored by the Japanese for KFC, but Tokyo is a food town. The great friendships I have made here started out of food or drink. A tranche of sweet white fish simmered in soy sauce at a cooking class; a mentaiko/mayonnaise dip with snow peas before that week’s showing of Paris Hilton in “The Simple Life”; a brimming shotglass of something quick ‘n vile at Geronimo’s — these are all ageless reminders of a specific person.

As is the incredible bounty at Tsukiji fish market. Also known as the Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market, this is the biggest wholesale seafood market in the world, handling more than 2,000 metric tons of seafood a day (according to Wikipedia). The market has been doing this daily since 1935; it, like much of the rest of Tokyo, remains constant.

Mollusks on display at the market

Aside from the seafood for sale, there is a cluster of sushiya on the far end of the market that we would visit on a regular basis for a quick breakfast before heading off to work. Turning right at the kooban (police box) into what looks like the parking lot for a football stadium, walking about 200 m and turning left into an alley leads you to “aisles” 5 and 6, where the most famous sushiya in the market are located — most with the kanji for “dai” (big) in some part of their names. The most famous of these is “Daiwa” — where the hostess conscientiously ensures you are lined up properly before heading inside — but there are others, all with their own unwieldy, intimidating queues. Inside, you might get something like this:

Unidon at Tsukiji

Also in season is shirako, a collection of creamy, mild coils that someone had once told me was fish sperm. Later, a group of Japanese people would tell me that this was not true; someone was pulling my leg. And then after that, I would look up shirako in the Japanese-English dictionary and discover that shirako is “milt; fish semen”, usually taken from the cod, anglerfish, or fugu (pufferfish). So there you have it. Shirako is not fish sperm. It is, as one kind Japanese waitress explained, “man eggs”.

Shirako for sale at Tsukiji

Somehow, that did not turn me off of this seasonal delicacy. Another popular way to have it is simmered gently in a nabe, a sort of catch-all term for anything that is served in a hotpot, like shabu shabu or sukiyaki. Or this, served as part of an incredible eight-course “washoku” menu at tempura specialist Uofuji in Ochanomizu (+813-3251-5327).

Helmed by a husband-wife team (the husband cooks, the wife is hostess), this is one of many husband-wife restaurants serving “washoku” (traditional Japanese cuisine) across the country. But the search for this unassuming restaurant is worth it: the tempura is light and fluffy and the menu changes daily, depending on what the husband has found in Tsukiji. On that particular day, there was sea cucumber in a pool of ponzu, freshly made shiokara (fermented squid innards), a single gigantic miso-glazed oyster. And while service is a little bit slow, the waitresses sure are free-handed with the sake samples and “tastings”. Leaving the restaurant that evening remains a blur; I believe Kiguchi-san had to escort us to the taxi herself, God bless her.

But it’s hard to pry me away from the sushiya for long, especially one where a meal can be an elaborate string of yummy fish-based mini-dishes. Sushiya no Yoshikan in Gakugeidaigaku (+813-3793-6261) is well-known for their otsumami (appetizers), which they continue serving you until you indicate to them you are ready for the sushi. We managed five: shirako, grilled this time with a salt crust; tuna “shabu” in a sweet miso sauce; poached sea eel in a pickled plum sauce; an oyster in a sabayon; and best of all, a freshly-grilled scallop in a “sandwich” of nori seaweed.

What I took away from all this, however, was the ever-present fact that I am getting old. I couldn’t keep up with my friends at the sushi counter — too soon afterwards, I was signalling for the soup (apparently osuimono, or clear broth soup, is what traditionalists say goes with sushi best, although everyone prefers miso nowadays). What can I say? Some things do change.

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Filed under Asia, fish, food, Japan, Japanese, markets, restaurant, rice, seafood

Glutton Abroad: Falling in Nagano

Apples, a Nagano specialty

Japan gets a lot of snow. Every year, we are re-surprised by the amount of snow awaiting us at Shigakogen, where we regularly go in a feeble attempt to look semi-athletic once a year (uh, in my case at least). Some people ski for the exhilaration of breezing down a mountain face, the sharp chill hitting their cheeks as they successfully navigate this or that mogul. I ski as payment for the reward that will come after:

Shigakogen, like the rest of the Nagano region, forms part of Japan’s “snow zone”, which makes up fully half of the country, according to the Japanese tourism board. Tons of snow are dumped on the country every year when the cold winds blowing across the choppy Sea of Japan meet the towering mountains that form a big part of the “spine” running through Japan’s islands. Hence, the knee-deep white bounty that transforms me into the flailing autobot that everyone must navigate around in the mornings. Chilly winter wind can be good for the complexion. Direct contact with a fluffy mound of snow, not so much. Perhaps with this in mind, the Japanese brew amazake during the colder months; the hot mix of rice and sugar is very warming — and exceptionally filling.

Amazake in the making

But when Nagano isn’t busy getting dumped on, it’s actually busy producing yummy things to eat with the fertile soil it hides underneath all that snow in the winter. Like Thailand’s Central plains, Nagano’s valley produces a veritable shopping cart of produce: apples, blueberries, mustard greens, mushrooms, mountain yams, buckwheat — all are readily harvested by Nagano-ites in greener times. That is probably why certain buckwheat products are considered specialties of Nagano — soba manjyu, a sort of steamed dumpling formed from buckwheat dough and stuffed with various fillings like meat or pickled greens, and of course soba, the hearty buckwheat noodle served either hot in a broth or cold with a dipping sauce, accompanied with a pitcher of the soba cooking water to drink afterwards so that none of the nutrients go to waste.

My favorite place to go, anywhere in the world, is the supermarket. It’s the best place I know of to figure out a place’s culture — or, at least, the way it views food. Are the shelves brimming with fat-free cakes and ready-made scrambled eggs and bacon, like in the States? Is there a gigantic, fresh-looking produce section, like in France? In Japan, there’s this: gargantuan, monstrous fruits and vegetables looking a little like something out of “Land of the Lost”; entire sections reserved for various types of dried fish; and unusual variations on commonplace things, like eggs.

Eggs for sale at Nagano's Tokyu Food Show

Almost everything is seasonal: mushrooms in the fall, shirako and uni in the winter, berries in the summer. But some things have become year-round staples: strawberries as big as a toddler’s fist and super-sweet “fruit tomatoes”, like tomato candy. These we had on our first meal there, sprinkled with a little Okinawa salt.

The Japanese are gifted in the art of naming — somehow, the English-language names they give are strange yet evocative, and always memorable. That’s how you get something like “Tokyu Food Show”, the best name I’ve seen yet for a supermarket; that’s also how you get “Ichigo no Musume”, or “strawberry daughter”, the name for a mochi (rice dough) dumpling stuffed with whipped cream instead of the usual red bean paste and anchored with a giant strawberry in the middle. I would show a picture, but I am not good enough to capture things in flight … in this case, the dumplings that were flying into other people’s mouths when my back was turned. Did I get a bite of these magical dumplings this year? No sirree, I did not.

I did not miss out on the apple beef, however. A certain breed of fatty cattle similar to Kobe, the Nagano cows are fed on the region’s special apples, which are supposed to impart a certain sweet flavor to the beef. I’m not sure if that is really the case, but the beef is extremely delicious — not too fatty to turn into a grease-fest, but tender enough to melt in the mouth. Our favorite place to try it: Sukitei (600 m SW of city center Nagano, +81 26-234-1123), as much of an annual pilgrimage as the snowy, ankle-twisting doom offered by Okushiga Kogen. Aside from steaks festooned with the local mushrooms, there is sweet sukiyaki, warm and healthy shabu shabu, and a handful of delicious beef-based appetizers like salt-crusted beef cubes grilled on a skewer, gently poached beef slices served cold in a pickled plum sauce, and various types of beef “sashimi”. Here, the fattiest, decorated with edible blossoms (the yellow one is NOT GOOD) and accompanied by grated wasabi, garlic and ginger:

Sukitei's fatty beef sashimi

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Filed under Asia, beef, dessert, food, Japan, markets, noodles, restaurant, rice

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

Taking it for granted

Allow me to get a little personal with you today. It’s been only a few months, but I feel like I know you already.

I could tell you a long and boring personal story, but I have been told it is far too long and boring to torture readers with on this blog. So I will tell you this: I am in the process of distributing my book. It has seen interest from everyone we’ve talked to, but I have to leave it at that because I’m superstitious and can’t take anything for granted until the ink on the forms is dry (although I can say all the paperwork for distribution at B2S is done! Yay!)

It’s a good book, one that a lot of people worked really hard on. It was a first time for all involved, and I am proud of the work we all did. The stalls are all excellent, and you should definitely try them out.

The problem: I left something out. Namely, this.

 

Bamee Asawin from Bamee Gua

I first went to Bamee Gua maybe 15 years ago. I was not yet Bangkok Glutton, and despaired in the lack of air conditioning, in the small portions, in the silent, elderly diners around us. Known by some as “Bamee Asawin” after their signature dish, Bamee  Gua is the very best type of egg noodle shop: clean and efficient, with enough confidence in the kitchen to offer a wide variety of noodle- and rice-based dishes.

But I turned my nose up at the bamee asawin, delicately flavored with bits of thang chai (pickled turnip) (35-45 baht). I ignored the buttery, silky e mee topped with strips of ham and chicken (100-160 baht, available only on Saturdays). I didn’t even see the delicious khao na gai (rice topped with chicken and gravy, 30-35 baht) or khao moo yang (grilled pork rice, 30 baht). I basically acted like my 9-year-old daughter now acts when we drag her to a street food stall. Like I was counting the minutes to Burger King.

Chicken and gravy rice with Chinese sausage

Since then, Bamee Gua’s e-mee has become a weekly habit, picked up every Saturday to reward myself after a punishing workout. I bow down to the excellence of their egg noodles (ranging from 35 baht for regular yentafo, or pink seafood noodles, to 55 baht for egg noodles with chicken, squid, pork, fish dumplings and fish meatballs). I acknowledge the buoyancy of their fish meatballs (40 baht with pork dumplings). Their minced pork-topped flat noodles, accompanied by a single raw egg yolk and accented with lots and lots of cumin (35 baht), are absolutely delicious.

My Saturday lunch

Are they in the book I just released? No. I know, I know. I know! I took them for granted. I plum forgot about them, writing about other places as I chomped down on their hammy ambrosia (to be fair to me — because we must always be fair to me — there is a whole bunch of awesome street food in this city, ESPECIALLY when it comes to egg noodles). I hope they don’t cut off all ties in retaliation, denying me the pleasure of my typical Saturday lunch. To make up for it, please allow me to say: Go here. Eat at this place. It tastes good.

Bamee Gua (full name: Bamee Gua, the originator of “Bamee Asawin”)

On Lang Suan, across from the Kasikornbank building

02-251-6020, 02-251-9448

Open Mondays-Saturdays 9.00-14.00

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Filed under Asia, bamee, Bangkok, chicken, fish, food, food stalls, noodles, pork, rice, Thai-Chinese, Thailand