Connect the dots

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Yum, yum Som Tom

I'm home. The people look like me, there's the familiar smell of fish sauce, a metro is a short walk away, and people are eating everywhere and ALL the time. No, we haven't yet made it to Manila, but Bangkok might even be better. And it's immaculate, for a big city.

Let me emphasize the food part again. Everywhere and all the time, there are food stalls, carts, courts, restaurants; on the street, on the sidewalk, in the malls, in the metro stations and everywhere in between. Thai food has got sweet, sour, salty, and spice down to an art form. They seem to balance all of these flavors in a variety of dishes.

Here's how the food went our first few days in Bangkok. 

Hungry for a quick snack? A hot noodle soup is the best antidote for that. Perch yourself on a plastic stool and dig in. Condiments on the side customize how hot (chillies!) and how salty (fish sauce) you want it. This one was a block away from our hotel and was a good way to warm up before the freezing metro ride or just giving in to the sticky humidity of Bangkok.

A great food court to curb the munchies as you shop for knock-off bags, shoes, and cheap electronics at the MBK mall. 

Cool off with the Thai version of "halo-halo". What SE Asian country doesn't have their version of the shaved milky ice?

Right outside our hotel window advertised the famous Cabbages and Condoms restaurant. In an effort to curb AIDS as wells as promote family planning, Mechai Viravaidya aka The Condom King and his organization, The Population and Community Development Association started this restaurant. His belief is that condoms should be as common as cabbages. The food was so-so but the restaurant proceeds go to their social development programs such as schools, helping villages be self-sustaining, and eradicating poverty. That alone is reason to have dinner there!
Tiger Woods in condom wear...

Condoms instead of mints with your bill!
But we made a purple street stall our dining room for the week. Pantaree is definitely worth several repeat visits if you are in the Sukhumvit area, near the Times Square mall. Constantly packed, always fresh, and open 24 hours. This is definitely my kind of place. In addition, they make the perfect Som Tom. It's a northern staple and what I consider to be the quintessential Thai dish, the perfect yin and yang of the four requisite Thai tastes. 

The magic happens all in this tiny corner kitchen
Like a vitamin, Som Tom once-a-day
Quick and easy, Pad Thai
Simple kale and pork dish
Tom Kha Gai - chicken-y, coconut milky, galangal-y, mushroom goodness.
Clean plates

This is just the beginning...

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