March 1, 2016

Return to Thailand day 2: a local favorite

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Now that the main event for this trip is over, it's time to eat!  I've been away from Thailand for 8 years, and I was determined to catch up on some Thai food.  So I rounded up the Great One and HaoKouFu and headed for the original location of Krua Apsorn ( ครัวอัปษร) on Thanon Samsen.

Krua Apsorn came highly recommended by the local expert on Chowhound, and a quick search showed that my friend Chubby Hubby and a whole host of other bloggers and foodies are also big fans.  Apparently she used to cook for the royal family before opening her own restaurant, so I figured we can't go wrong with this place.  The location is a little far from where we're staying, as it's near the National Library in the very old part of Bangkok - and therefore inaccessible by BTS or MRT.  Thankfully there wasn't much traffic, and we made it easily by taxi.

I had done a little bit of homework and came up with 3 dishes I wanted to order, and the others came up with the dishes that they wanted.

Miang kana (เมี่ยงคะน้า) - naturally this arrived first.  One is supposed to mix all the ingredients and wrap them in the Chinese broccoli leaves - which is different from the wild pepper leaves often used.

This looks very simple, but herein lies the magic.  Combining the little bits of lime, ginger, shallots, bird's eye chili (I stayed away from this), dried shrimp, peanuts, and pork crackling and drizzling the tamarind-based sauce on top would seem like an overload of flavors, as the individual ingredients by themselves can be pretty sharp on their own.  But somehow, when you put the mix into your mouth, it was pure harmony.  Total magic.

Omelet with crab (ไข่พะโล้) - we just had arguably the best crab omelet late last night, and we decided to order this one for comparison... knowing that this comes at 1/9 of the price of what we had last night.

Of course there wasn't nearly as much crabmeat as the ones from last night, but this was pretty decent for the price.

Stir-fried Thai flower with pork (ดอกขจรผัดน้ำมันหอย) - I had read about this dish, and definitely wanted these Tonkin jasmine buds.  So simple, so good.

Tom yum kung (ต้มยำกุ้ง) - I normally stay as far away from this as possible, but the others wanted to try.  This was surprisingly good.  That is to say, it's neither deathly spicy nor acidic like biting into a lemon.  It was at once acidic, spicy, and savory... with umami coming from the prawns.  Balanced and delicious.

They sent us a plate of rice to go with the tom yum kung, and like a stupid tourist I took a picture of the steamed rice just because it was heart-shaped...

Stir-fried crab with curry powder (เชียงปูผัดผงกระหรี่) - this was meant to be one of the signature dishes, and it was reasonably tasty.  Delicious crab meat with onions, spring onions, and chili.  Perfect with steamed rice.

Fried bean curd eaten with sauce (เต้าหู้ทอด) - this was actually on the dessert menu, which we thought was strange.  The sauce was, once again, tamarind-based, but still... this is a savory dish!

There were a lot of interesting drinks on the menu, many of which we have never heard of.  I ended up ordering this butterfly pea and lemongrass juice, which had this beautiful purple hue.  It was nice and refreshing, but I mostly tasted the lemongrass.

This was a very good lunch.  Simple dishes, classic flavors, and budget-friendly because it's not a tourist trap.  During the time we spent in the restaurant - which was a little more than an hour - there were only 3 tables of tourists including ourselves.  As I would find out later, this place is beloved by the locals we run into.  If you tell them that you've been to Krua Apsorn, you are instantly seen as someone who's tried "authentic" and good Thai food - instead of those places that only farang like.  So yeah, a meal here is absolutely de rigeur for anyone looking for "the real thing"...

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