April 25, 2024

Scorching Bangkok day 2: Thai home cooking

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I woke up this morning feeling a little hungry. I could have walked down to have my buffet-style hotel breakfast, but I wasn't sure how "local" that would be. Instead, I decided to follow the recommendation of a local I met last night. I walked out of the compound that the Four Seasons Bangkok at Chao Praya River sits in, crossed the road, and sat down at Lao Si (เล่าสี่ เกาเหลาเลือดหมู 黃瑞發).

The place is famous for their pork blood soup, or more accurately, pig offal soup. They have even written the words 豬雜湯 in Chinese on a cardboard stuck to the wall. So that's what I ordered... and since I was having an early lunch today, I didn't ask for a bowl of rice like other people. I also didn't have any deep-fried pork that I saw.

Pork blood soup (เกาเหลาเลือดหมู) - we've got the blood, kidney, liver, stomach, heart, as well as "regular" minced pork. Standard MSG broth. Pretty tasty.

Two days ago I was connected online to someone who loves food and lives in Bangkok. I am usually pretty selective when it comes to my dining companions, but on this trip I decided to be more open-minded and try to meet new people, so we agreed to meet for an early lunch today. As we are doing this on very short notice, my host chose Sansumran at San Saab (แสนสำราญที่แสนแสบ) - a restaurant serving dishes that are more "home cooking" style.

The restaurant is literally at the very end of Sukhumvit Soi 31, and given my location by the river, I decided that taking public transport would be too painful. So I ordered a Grab car early and arrived 15 minutes before the restaurant opened.

I left the ordering to my host as he's the local, and this way I could learn to appreciate new dishes.

The heat was taking a toll on me after being outside for about 20 minutes, so I decided to order myself a Thai iced coffee with milk (กาแฟเย็นโบราณ). Not what I needed for my cough, but necessary.

Stir fried crab with yellow chillies (เนื้อปูผัดพริกเหลือง) - this looked kinda similar to a dish we sometimes order at Baan Ice (ร้านบ้านไอซ์), but I guess that's not surprising since both places focus more on home-style cooking. My host was very considerate and chose to order this less-spicy version, rather than the other one that comes with birds' eye chili.

Spicy pomelo salad with shrimp (ยำส้มโอกุ้งสด) - this is not the usual pomelo salad that Foursheets orders at Greyhound Cafe... This one came with a thick sauce made with tamarind and coconut, and it's warm! There's also minced pork here.

So interesting to try this saucy version, as the experience is "same-same but different".

Fried tiger prawn with salt (กุ้งลายเสือทอดเกลือ) - this was pretty interesting, as the prawns came with a topping made of apparently goodies from shrimp heads. What would have been an pedestrian dish of fried prawns was instantly transformed into something that was not blasé in the least bit.

SanSumRan fried pork (หมูทอดแสนสำราญ) - this is one of the signature dishes here, and certainly enticed with its deep flavors and a texture that was at once firm yet tender. I think I could have a very satisfying meal with only a bowl of steamed rice to accompany this dish.

Green curry with beef (แกงเขียวหวานเนื้อ) - the slices of beef came with sinews, and weren't overcooked like they would have been at many restaurants, so their textures remained springy and crunchy.

Instead of rice, we had roti (แป้งโรตี) to mop up our curry. Very nice.

I was pretty full and we definitely could not finsih everything, but I couldn't resist tasting some of the desserts, especially ones that are not commonly seen on menus.

Kaffir lime in syrup (มะกรูดลอยแก้ว) - I've never seen kaffir lime used in a dessert like this, where it was basically candied so it initially tastes very sweet, but then comes the bitterness along with it. Served with shaved us, this was really refreshing on a scorching day like today.

Millet in coconut milk (ข้าวฟ่างเปียก) - I am told that this is increasingly difficult to find, and to be honest, millet is also less and less seen in Taiwan...

Coconut pudding (สังขยานวลละมุน)

My generous host wouldn't let me pay for lunch, so I thanked him and invited him to let him know the next time he's passing through Hong Kong. I'm happy to have tried some new things today to continue my education in Thai cuisine.

I got plenty of time to kill, so it was time to fulfill some of my shopping missions. I went over to the Surawong branch of Khua Kling Pak Sod (คั่วกลิ้ง ผักสด). There are a few people in Hong Kong who would like to have a jar or two of the Thai crispy chili (พริกคั่วกรอบ) made by Drama Queen (ดราม่าควีน) in collaboration with Khua Kling Pak Sod, and they are only sold at the restaurant. The staff must have been amused when I showed up after lunch hour and only wanted the crispy chili... then proceeded to take all 8 jars they had available.

I went downstairs from the restaurant and ducked into the 7-11. I finally found the tom yum (ต้มยำ) flavors of Nongshim Shin Ramyun made in partnership with Jay Fai (เจ๊ไฟ) - which are only sold at 7-11, Makro, and Lotus. There are two versions - in soup and stir-fried - which are priced at 60 and 65 Baht each, respectively. I know the noodles are made by Nongshim in Korea and imported into Thailand, but those prices are EXPENSIVE for Thailand! They're almost twice the price of the regular Shin Ramyun, but I know plenty of people who would love to get their hands on them, so I bought a bunch of these.

That's my shopping done for this trip. Time to head back to the hotel and freshen up before dinner.

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