Soei Restaurant

Having followed Mark Wiens’ advice the whole trip, it seemed only natural to go to one of his favorite restaurants, Soei, for our final meal. It was a little bit of a schlep, but everything we heard about this place told us it was worth it.

The chef at Soei is a former rugby player turned chef. Every dish in this place passes through his hands; he has sous chefs, but they mainly due the prep for him. Because of this, if you go to Soei you might be waiting for a while to get your food. We waited for the better part of two hours on a Tuesday night. I suspect it might have been because of my curry, but in the end the food was lovely and I’m glad we got to try it all out.

The decor is fairly basic. It looks like a cafeteria, but that didn’t deter any customers, and by the time our food was served it was packed with diners.IMG_3077.JPG

On this trip I found out that I’m completely head-over-heels in love with Thai style omelettes. They’re just the best version of omelette I’ve ever had. Since coming back from this trip, I’ve already made my own a few times now. In addition to the usual fresh chillies, and minced pork, the omelette we got was packed with Thai holy basil. It was so good. This was definitely the best omelette of the trip, but it also was just such a great idea to use whole basil leaves in an omelette! It really goes well. IMG_3078.JPG

Pictured below is the fantastic soft-shelled crab curry, which was surprisingly not spicy, likely due to the massaman curry base. It was so good and, thankfully, not as scary as I thought it was going to be, since I heard the food is really, really spicy (which I can’t handle). This curry was the best curry of the trip for me; the soft-shell crab and spices blended together perfectly, which was actually a little surprising to me. If I ever make it to Soei again, there’s no doubt that I’ll be ordering this. It was also the single most expensive dish we had on the trip (outside of the buffet), but I would argue it was definitely worth it.IMG_3080.JPG

Sam got Yam woon sen which is essentially a spicy mung-bean glass noodle salad. I did my best to eat some of it, but it was way too spicy for me. It might have even hurt my stomach it was so spicy…IMG_3079.JPG

Sam here to let you know that this was a special dish. It doesn’t look like much, but it was one of the most intensely-flavored dishes I’ve ever had and eating it was not only a tasty meal but a straight-up fight too. Every forkful was so incredibly spicy, and eye-squintingly sour that I literally had to take breaks in-between bites. It was thanks to the perfectly-balanced hint of sweetness, the amazing, fresh flavor of the the vegetables, and the hearty, meatiness of the ground pork that kept me coming back for more. Even hours later my stomach was still doing battle with the food (if you know what I mean), but in my head I had only fond memories of this amazing dish.

Soei was an excellent way to end our trip, and a truly memorable last meal.

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Chatuchak Park and the Butterfly Sanctuary

Chatuchak park is a huge, spacious, lovely park which is also known for the Chatuchak market nearby (we were unable to visit it this time around). It has some ponds, benches, and a butterfly sanctuary.

Here’s some pictures of the park itself:IMG_3076.JPG

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The butterfly sanctuary was hot and humid, but a really interesting experience.

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We also found a super tiny frog! This little guy was maybe the size of my thumb nail, but could jump as high as my upper shin.IMG_6348.JPG

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Or Tor Kor Market

Or Tor Kor market is a bit different from the markets we’d previously visited on the trip. It isn’t on the street, and it isn’t open-air. And, as you can see it’s much cleaner:IMG_3042.JPG

The produce area was huge, and filled with all kinds of fruits (more on that later):IMG_3058.JPG

There were stalls selling just about anything you can think of related to food. Here’s one that sold various Thai chilli-pastes:IMG_3056.JPG

The market is technically split into two parts, the shopping area, and the food court. First, we stopped at the food court for lunch. There are tons of different stalls, serving all kinds of Thai food, so it’s a bit difficult to decide what to get. Eventually we decided on a “rice and curry” stall where the vendor serves you a plate of rice, and then you can just point and choose to whatever dish you like:IMG_3049.JPG

They had maybe 30-40 different options, and we ended up choosing three to go with our rice.IMG_3046.JPGStarting clockwise from the top-left is some kind of leafy, green vegetable with ground pork in what I think was a Thai fish-sauce. Next, on the top-right (and kind of on top of the rice), is a vegetable stir-fry with mung bean glass noodles, cabbage and carrots in a light soy sauce mixture with black pepper. Finally, in the bottom-center, is a pork dish spiced with curry and chilli-flakes. All of it was very good.

Next, we stopped by a stall serving pork satay:IMG_3050.JPGThese were a bit different from the ones we got in Chiang Mai, since they were brushed with a kind of sweet, citrus-y glaze. They were delicious, and the peanut sauce was very good too. It was spicy and oily, but to be honest could have used a bit more peanut. Also the Thai cucumber salad was the perfect compliment with it’s sweet, vinegar-y sauce and a bit of spice from the fresh chillies.

Finally, we checked out Som Tam (as recommended by Mark Wiens) to get another Gai Yang. Unlike SP Chicken, Som Tam cooks their Gai Yang the traditional Thai way, by splaying the bird out, flattening it, and cooking it on a grill on bamboo skewers. You can just barely see the grill on the right side of this pic:IMG_3054.JPG

We ordered a half-chicken, which came with the usual two sauces:IMG_3055.JPGThis was some great Gai Yang, due to the lovely grilled flavor, and the super-crispy skin. The sauces were, of course, excellent accompaniments.

After our meal, we stopped by the produce area to get some fruits for dessert.IMG_3043.JPG

The tender morsel pictured above is none other than the fabled and famed durian. Having had it on my Thailand list since before we even thought to come, I had constantly been on the lookout for some tasty durian the whole trip. Having learned about Or Tor Kor market from Mark Wiens, we also found out that this is a market known for its impeccable produce, a reputation we found it has rightly earned. Therefore, when it came to durian, it seemed the best place to give this notoriously smelly fruit a shot.

To explain the taste of a fruit or vegetable which many haven’t had is actually pretty difficult, but I’ll try my hand at it: the durian flesh itself is rich and creamy, with a fruity tinge– almost like a fruit custard. Having been peeled and prepared by someone who knows what they’re doing, the durian flesh seemed to have a perfect membrane surrounding it, all while wrapped around a gigantic seed below. It was an amazing fruit– much better than Sam or I expected– and I look forward to eating it again as soon as possible. Also, the smell wasn’t, too, bad, but I actually like the smell since it just tells my nose that there are durian to be had.

Pictures below is one of our beautiful mangosteens! Mangosteens are known as the queen of fruit, while durian are known as the king of fruit; mangosteens are thought to cool you down while durians warm you up, so their meant to be eaten together to balance the effects.

For those whom haven’t tried them, mangosteens are pretty much the closest thing to ambrosia we humans would be able to find. It’s sweet, unearthly flavor is very lightly floral (in a tropical way, similar to feijoa blossoms) but with a tangy note and pretty much is indescribable past that. All I can say is that when I was eating it I kept thinking something along the lines of, “This is the perfect fruit. The pinnacle of all things one could call fruit.” If at all possible, stop what your doing and try to find a mangosteen. Once you’ve done that, eat it. The only downside is that the flesh seems a little too friendly with the seeds, meaning you just have to spit it all out in the end. IMG_3052.JPG

We also got some fresh papaya, which we’ve had in the States; but these papayas were smaller, sweeter, and much better. They also lacked a funk which I always taste when eating papayas in America, but this might just be simply a different breed of the fruit. They were perfectly soft, ripe, and flavorful. IMG_3065.JPG

We also got some beautiful, hand cleaned red pomelo sections. If you’ve ever eaten pomelo, you probably have found that the pith of the fruit has an intensely bitter flavor; because of that, the fruit vendors at Or Tor Kor (and likely other markets as well) sit and carefully pluck off the pith, leaving the perfectly preserved pomelo sections you see below. They were tart, flavorful, and a perfect burst of citrus in ever bite.IMG_3068.JPG

I also managed to get something which I love beyond all else in the realm of food and drink: fresh passion fruit juice! Check out that bottle below and you’ll see the intoxicating substance which I remember being ridiculed for bringing in my lunch during 6th grade. They said it looked like eyeballs or something. Those poor saps; they don’t even know what they were missing. Passionfruit juice– real passion fruit juice– should be the same experience as just simply drinking a passion fruit; seeds, delicious membranes, and all.

This juice was one of the highlights of my trip. Honestly, I would have bathed in the stuff if that had been a reasonable response to finding something so delicious.

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After we left the market with our goodies, we headed to the MRT to head to the nearby Chatuchak park. One the way we saw this delightful sign:

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Apparently the king of fruits can’t ride the subway.

 

 

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Jim Thompson House

Despite the unexciting name, the Jim Thompson house was actually quite interesting. It’s a museum designed to resemble a collection of traditional Thai houses created in traditional Thai fashion, with traditional construction materials. IMG_3035.JPGIMG_3036.jpgIMG_3038.jpg

It now functions as an art museum dedicated to Jim Thompson’s impressive collection of art and artifacts from across the history of Thailand. We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside the museum, but it was organized as if it was a regular, everyday house, that just happened to have artwork that was hundreds of years old in it. It wasn’t a particularly large museum, but the tour guide was very nice and knowledgeable. IMG_6335.JPG

There was also a man outside demonstrating how to make Thai silk from silkworm cocoons, in the traditional manner.IMG_6337.JPG

Here’s a video of man above drawing the silk thread from the silk worm pods:

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Queen of Curry

We realized that we hadn’t partaken of enough Thai style curries, so we wanted to go to a restaurant which specialized in those, just to be sure. Because of that, we went to Queen of Curry.

We decided to go with the massaman curry, which they’re known for and you can see below. It was quite tasty and it’s no wonder people would come specifically for it. It was a little sweet with a rich coconut base. The peanuts also really helped this dish, because– let’s be honest, people– what dish isn’t made better by peanuts?! Don’t actually give me answers to that; just note that I love peanuts.IMG_3025.JPG

We also got a non-coconut milk based curry, which was said to be a “local flavor”. It was pretty good, though a bit spicy for me. In the end, though, I found that I really miss it when the coconut is omitted from a Thai style curry.IMG_3027.JPGOur curry also had something we’d never eaten before: pea eggplants. We tried them and were both not so pleased with them. They have a slightly bitter, overpowering flavor, which, while common in certain Thai dishes, was not really our favorite part of the meal. I thought I had taken a picture, but apparently I hadn’t; because of this, please check out the picture below, which I’ve borrowed from Mark Wiens at Migrationology.

Borrowed from Mark Wiens, at Migrationology. We've mentioned him before, but you really should check him out. Great stuff. Click on the above picture to go to the website.

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Seashell Museum of Bangkok!

So, after possibly breaking my toe/s, we went to the seashell museum of Bangkok. Walking there was a little tough, because of the toes, but it was actually not too strenuous an activity so my toe/s were safe. Also, the museum was pretty awesome! There was, quite literally, no one else there, so when we came they really gave us the 5 star treatment, even going out of the way to prep a video where we could sit and watch an episode of a nature documentary on marine life, with a notable segment on nautilus’.

Here’s me with a big ol’ shell! img_6260Here you can see our viewing station for the video.

img_6257There was also a fish tank on the top floor. The fish were pretty interesting. Here’s one:

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The following are a bunch of notable seashells. Enjoy!

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Prachak Roast Duck

After seeing the temple, we went for a short walk down the street to Prachak, a well-known restaurant specializing in Chinese-style roast duck. You know a place must be good when it’s been open for over 100 years! Since 1909 specifically.

At the front we saw many ducks hanging in the window (always a good sign), and the duck chef (there was a separate kitchen in the back for the other dishes) preparing to serve the hungry customers:IMG_3023.jpg

Usually the place is supposed to be crowded, but we managed to get a seat no problem. The inside is… “utilitarian” but I believe there were other seats upstairs.Bangkok Chinatown - Inside Prachak.JPG

Of course, we ordered the specialty, roast duck. We got it two different ways: roast duck and roast pork with egg noodles, and a plate of roast duck with a side of rice:IMG_3019.JPGIMG_3015.JPG

Additionally, we ordered another plate of water mimosas, since we enjoyed it so much last time. However, it wasn’t as good here. The clear star of the meal is the duck.IMG_3021.JPG

And, boy was it good. The meat was moist and succulent, while still being very lean with almost no fat, and the skin was crispy. It was sweet, salty and spicy, with a hint of smokiness. It was overflowing with juice which was absorbed by the rice and the noodles giving them an excellent flavor. The noodles seemed fresh-cooked and were firm and stretchy without being sticky or clumping together.

It was probably the best duck we’ve had, and some of the best straight-up Chinese food ever as well.

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