Egg Noodles and WTF
June 27, 2010 § 6 Comments
I’m sort of nervous about having returned from France, where regular writing on this blog actually took off, and now trying to blog about food experiences at home. For one, I don’t have free reign in my kitchen in Bangkok. And though I am constantly out and about having food adventures on pretty much every weeknight and weekend, are they going to interest you as much as French food adventures?
Then again, I am, of all things, a food writer in this city, and it is, of all places, BANGKOK. Sights like these happen ten times a minute. The above is a famed khao kaeng (rice and curry) stall in Klong Toey market. Most khao kaeng stalls have ten or twelve offerings tops, but this one is staggering. A plate of rice and a ladle of one or two curries on top are B35 (just over $1), and if you come after 5pm, when they’re looking to start closing up, the same will cost you B10, and I can’t even do the math for the dollar amount.
I don’t know the name of this fish, but a lady grills them up in large batches on the side of the street where my apartment building is. They are salt-crusted and stuffed with what looks like pandanus or betel leaves and probably some other herbs. I’m also very impressed by the low-key grilling apparati used by street stall cooks. It’s very DIY and very smokey, making the meat very charred and smokey, something you probably can never get in a home kitchen smokeless grill. I must investigate this dish further on my next traipse around the neighborhood. In fact, I’m in the process of devising a systematic plan to master all the culinary offerings of Bangkok streets. More on that soon.
The most exciting development in my social life since I got back has been the discovery of a new bar, WTF, which we intermittently call What the Fuck, Wonderful Thai Friendship, Who’s the Father, Will Trumps Fate, et cetera. A glowing glassfront on an otherwise dark street, it’s become a hangout for a certain friendly, hip and young Thai and farang crowd. It’s very cozy, plays great music, which is a rarity in the Popsanova epidemic currently plaguing the city. It is also often packed, being a little sanctuary during the World Cup for the adorable, slightly alienated US team fans, who would be well-advised NOT to do any hysterical cheering at most other bars such as The Australian, The Londoner, The Dubliner, New Zealand Bar, et cetera. You get the picture. Something about the vibe makes it the sort of place where you’ll go and inevitably make friends.
I’ve been there three nights in a row this week, and three nights in a row last week, and more than once, upon leaving, I have fallen into the back of a cab and headed off to a little street stall in Ekamai 19, arguably the best place in the city to get bammee moo daeng (wheat egg noodles with roast port). I’ve been very passionate about this dish lately, having written a little thing in BK Magazine (new –beta– website!) about the awesomeness of bammee. You can read it here.
In addition to the fact that their noodles, roast pork and pork/shrimp wontons are all superb, two additional highlights make their bowl heavenly: the hard-boiled egg that is so delicately timed that underneath the hard white, and cakey yolk exterior is a perfectly gooey, golden yolk. Without fail, time after time. I don’t know how they do it. The second is the accompanying soup. Many places will do a plain radish broth, which has its merits, of course, but these guys go the whole hog (literally) and fill it up with loads and loads of pork mince. Mmm! It’s a perfect conclusion to a night of boozing and making friends. You can even take your new friends here, as I have!