April 27, 2024

Scorching Bangkok day 4: ice, rice, baby

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I got out of my hotel reasonably early to run an errand. I had forgotten my notebook computer at home, and a kind soul who happened to travel to Bangkok had brought it with him to his hotel, so I got myself a car and traveled to Bang Na to pick it up.

I needed some breakfast this morning, and since the fish ball noodle shop recommended by a local isn't open, I figured I'll just go back to Ta Chai Sukhothai Noodles (ตาชัยก๋วยเตี๋ยวสุโขทัย), where Indian Hairy Legs brought us to have noodles last year.

As usual, the soup with both fresh and preserved radish comes first.

I chose egg noodles for my Sukhothai noodles (ก๋วยเตี๋ยวสุโขทัย), which I immediately regretted. This was just like the noodles in Cantonese cuisine... I do like the vinegar in the mix together with the ground pork, char siu (叉燒), bean sprouts, and diced string beans. Unfortunately, though, the noodles stuck together in my bowl.

When I came time for me to pay for my noodles, I realized - much to my horror - that I had left my wallet in my hotel room. My rides with Grab did not require any cash payment so I had not discovered this until now. Thankfully I had some HKD in the backpack I was carrying, so I sheepishly went to the boss and asked whether I could pay them HKD 20 for the THB 50 I owe them. They were kind to accept my offer, but they probably didn't have much choice in the matter...

Since I didn't have any cash on me, my plans to go around the corner for some mango with glutinous rice at Kor Panich (ก. พานิช) had to be scrapped. And also no Natthaphon Coconut Ice Cream (นัฐพรไอศครีมกะทิสด), either...

For lunch I decided to check out Sanguan Sri (สงวนศรี) as it happened to be just a few minutes' walk from my hotel. While doing some quick research on this place, I came upon Mark Wiens' post mentioning that khao chae (ข้าวแช่) can be found here during the scorching months of April and May. This is a seasonal dish that I have never had before, so I got a little excited about trying this out.

The place looks like a cafeteria with its decor and furnishings, and in addition to the "regular menu" there are a few daily specials on offer depending on the day of the week. I chose one of the daily specials on top of the dish I had come to try.

Tapioca balls with chicken filling (สาคูไส้ไก่) - this looked kinda interesting to me, as I don't remember having tapioca balls with any savory stuffing.

I guess I was supposed to wrap the balls inside lettuce like larb (ลาบ)... The tapioca was pretty sticky after steaming, as expected, and the minced chicken filling inside was surprisingly sweet. Overall, pretty interesting.

Khao chae (ข้าวแช่) - this was, of course, what I had come to eat. There's a bowl of rice - which are cooked firmer than regular jasmine rice - that's been soaked in fragrant jasmine-scented water and served with ice cubes. I absolutely LOVED the beautiful fragrance of jasmine in the water, and of course the ice makes it so very refreshing on a scorcher of a day like today. Now this was real "jasmine rice"!

The plate bearing the typical side dishes is where it gets interesting:

Stuffed sweet peppers (พริกหยวกสอดไส้) - stuffed with minced pork inside and came with a crunchy egg batter.

Shrimp paste balls (ลูกกะปิ) - these came with pretty strong flavors of wild ginger in addition to the shrimp paste itself, and the sweetness from palm sugar was pretty evident

Stuffed shallots (หอมแดงยัดไส้) - not only were the shallots themselves sweet, but the stuffing was also sweet thanks to the palm sugar.

Shredded sweetened pork (หมูฝอย) - pretty sweet and very nice and crunchy. A harder version of pork floss, which is why it goes so well with rice.

I was very full but very, very happy. I loved this simple khao chae, and would love to have it again. Maybe next time I can try out some "upscale" versions... but that would have to wait till this time next year.

I needed to do some sauce and snack shopping so I went across the street to Central Embassy. I quickly concluded that Tops is really not the place to shop for gourmet stuff... and once again understood why Indian Hairy Legs does his shopping at the Gourmet Market at EmQuartier. They just have better stuff.

Once again, I found myself overpaying for durian... especially premium Monthong (หมอนทอง) which, in this case, came under-ripe and not that tasty. But as a solo tourist, my choices are fairly limited... It's not like I can buy a whole durian and bring it back to my hotel room, is it?

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