September 1, 2023

Bangkok incognito day 1: just noodles

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We're off on a short trip to Bangkok for a few days with the Great One. We only settled on the itinerary a few days ago and managed to book a few restaurants for dinner, while leaving lunches for more casual fare. I was determined to hit a few spots I have been meaning to try for the last few years.

But Mother Nature was throwing us a curve ball. Typhoon Saola was gunning for Hong Kong and on course for a direct hit, and we were very worried starting from about yesterday morning that our flight would be canceled. Thankfully our airline announced late last night that all flights would be canceled beginning early this afternoon, while our flight is in the morning.

Given the weather conditions - Typhoon Signal 8 having been hoisted in the wee hours of the morning - and reduced service on the train lines, we were grateful that Sweetheart drove us to the airport. Check-in and security was smooth, and we soon found ourselves parked at a Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge. Time for some breakfast!

This was never my ritual before the pandemic stopped all travels for me, but nowadays I feel compelled to get dan dan noodles (擔擔麵) before boarding. And one bowl is never enough.

Our flight did get delayed by about an hour, but we were all relieved when we finally took off.

After landing on a Friday afternoon, we felt it would be best to take the Airport Rail Link into town. We got off at Makkasan Station, ordered our first of many Grab rides of the trip (I swore off hailing taxis on Bangkok streets on my last trip in 2019), and arrived at the Public House on Sukhumvit Soi 31.

It was now 3 p.m. and our dinner is at 6 p.m. This means we could not, as the Great One had hoped, fit in both a noodle stop and a trip to another restaurant nearby. So we strolled around the corner from the hotel and sat down at Sanidchan Boat Noodle (ก๋วยเตี๋ยวสนิทจันทร์). This is a relatively new joint, and I was curious to see how it was.

Beef noodle (ก๋วยเตี๋ยวเรือ) - with sliced beef, beef liver, and beef ball. I was surprised that the broth - which had pretty deep flavors - did not taste like the typical one I've become accustomed to. The absence of that familiar sweetness was glaring... and I realized that the shop most likely does not use MSG. It's the only sensible explanation. But while this appeals to people who object to the use of this seasoning, does its absence make the flavors less "authentic"?

Fried pork crackling - one can never have boat noodles without having some deep-fried crackling, although these tasted more like pork lard.

Braised beef tongue (ลิ้นวัว) - these were actually pretty tasty.

It's been a few years since my last cha yan (ชาเย็น) in Bangkok, so I took the opportunity to order one up. OK la.

Gaggan was nearby and asked to meet us for coffee, so we literally cross the street to PAGA Microroastery where we were introduced to owner Gabriel. They roast their own beans so it would be interesting to try out their range.

I wanted Wanda but they could only offer me Jane, which came with cloves, cinnamon, and raspberry syrup. Nice with all the spices.

But the happiest moment came when Matcha arrived after his walk. This little Pomsky puppy was just too cute, and Foursheets couldn't stop playing with him. In fact, he almost followed us back to the hotel!

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