Two Things I Eat for Lunch
September 5, 2010 § 3 Comments
In the weekends since my last post, I have taken a wine class, gone on a vineyard and winery tour to beautiful Khao Yai, visited a friend in a remote province of Thailand that had never been on my radar before, commenced a slightly hokey “creative recovery” course by Julia Cameron that makes me cringe and blows my mind at the same time, been to a rum tasting and checked out several nice restaurants in Bangkok. So now my big challenge is to gradually turn these experiences into posts after a ridiculously long and unwarranted hiatus.
I’ll start with something small rather than something big. I’ll avoid making this a This is What I Ate Today kind of blog, but if you’re reading this, chances are that you either don’t live in Bangkok/Thailand and this is going to sound pretty exotic, or you live in Bangkok and should go get these dishes right away.
I work in Silom, the business district of Bangkok, where lunchtime is an insane affair, as thousands of employees from all the high rises set off to find good, affordable food located nearby. So naturally, Silom is bursting with all kinds of eateries, from fancy French restaurants to shopping mall food courts to sidewalk-choking street stalls.
One of the places I go to with my two editors, Greg and and Nick, is a street operation on Soi Convent, a few steps up from the Starbucks, that sells nothing but khao mok kai, or Muslim-style chicken and rice (pictured above). A plate of this comes with rice, yellow with turmeric and other spices, and a leg of chicken, tender as hell, with the skin still on, all topped with crispy fried onions and a sweet chilli sauce on the side. It costs 30 baht, which is just under a dollar. Also on the side, you can get a bowl of broth, made with chicken bones and lots of green chillies. When we’re done with our khao mook kai, we turn our attention to the soup, slurping away, and, in my case, nose running from the spice.
On days when I need to eat at my desk, I have another stall I like to go to for take-away. On Rama IV Road, past the Pan Pacific Hotel and just outside a Family Mart-type convenience store is a tam sang stall run by a lady and two guys. A tam sang shop is usually a ragtag operation, consisting of little more than a couple of woks, a gas cylinder, a mess of seasoning bottles and a few tables and chairs. You order a stir-fry of your choice, and they make it real-quick. While I wait for my food, I like to closely watch the lady handle her wok and am always amazed by how she keeps the orders straight in her head, how she goes from one dish to making another, taking a quick minute to wipe out the wok, without stopping to think.
One of my favorite dishes here is khao pad naem, fried rice with sour sausage (above), which, in addition to the delicious, slightly fermented sausage, also has eggs and veggies. It’s very greasy and is cut nicely by the sourness of the meat.
So, as you can see, there’s never any need or desire to pack a lunch, the way I used to in New York. And it’s little wonder that I’ve put on a few pounds since I moved back to Bangkok (nearly a year ago now!).