Intro to Southern Thai Food

January 4, 2011 § Leave a comment

southern thai food

Kathy is almost weepy with bliss.

Phuket Town on Thong Lor could almost be a hidden treasure in the East Village of NYC: it’s tiny, with no more than ten tables; it’s a bright and kitschly-decorated place, with a giant mural of Phuket’s old city, and lots of old Chinese bric a brac on the walls. It’s almost always packed and you have to wait a few minutes for a table to free up, and in the meantime, you constantly study other people’s tables, wondering what they ordered that looks so good.

It might be kind of masochistic of me, but I love restaurants where you have to make a reservation, or where there is a requisite 20-40 minute wait, especially when they’re un-fancy places with long lines of connoisseurs, or at least people who will not tolerate a ho-hum meal and will travel, plan in advance and/or wait to eat a memorable one.

On Tuesday, I had a fantastic reunion at this fantastic southern Thai restaurant.  I’ll confess from the get-go that fermented shrimp paste (kapi) is a taste I have yet to acquire, much to my shame and chagrin.  And much of southern Thai food involves this ingredient in vast amounts.  On this night, though, we were able to successfully avoid shrimp paste without sacrificing variety and deliciousness.

pak mieng khai

Pad pak mieng sai khai

Pak mieng is a slightly bitter regional leafy green from southern Asia, and as far as I know, it doesn’t have a common English name. It’s not, however, to be confused with mieng kham, a leaf roll-up kind of Thai dish.  Our pad pak mieng was stir fried with eggs that mellowed out the bitterness, and topped with dried shrimp and crispy fried-dried onions. « Read the rest of this entry »

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