Saturday, March 7, 2009

More Bangkok -- Curries, Noodles, and Sanitizers

We only had time to visit Ban Chiang one more time during our visit. It was really more of an excuse to indulge in more mango sticky rice. It was nighttime and harder to take pictures this time, so I took a pic of the only other dish worth mentioning -- the chicken curry. Topped with all those leaves and carrots, it was fresh and almost buttery. But we probably powered through it faster than we should to get to that mango dessert.

We visited MBK -- a gigantic indoor market in Bangkok -- about two or three times during our visit. On one such occasion, we went specifically to visit the food court. The Lonely Planet said it was huge and not to be missed, so we found out way up to the sixth floor and over into another room. They were right; it was huge. You had to buy tickets for the food court like you're at the fair or something -- no baht was accepted at the individual food stands. We took a long stroll along the court to get an idea as to what we wanted. It was hard, because this food was clearly targeted for the Bangkokians. Most stands had ducks or chicken or other animals in clear view with stewed heads exposed. I guess its not so different from Chinatown, but it seemed different at a mall. It was one of those weird moments where you almost feel homesick and almost kinda want a Sbarros.

I guess we were both feeling wimpy and settled on some pad thai. Chicken, noodles, scallions, a lime on the side, pretty standard. Before we started eating, Rob asked if I had dipped my chopsticks.

Wait, dipped them?

We watched other mallgoers scoop up their silverware, dip them in a bucket, continue on their way. I didn't even notice this earlier. I walked up to see that the bucket was labeled Sanitizer. It was sort of dirty looking, and a fork settled down along the bottom. To dip or not to dip? Did they not wash the forks and chopsticks at all, or was this sort of an added measure? I held my breath and dipped before rigorously cleaning them again with my napkin. Ahh, Bangkok, it sure is a different place. The food was good but I was having a hard time forgetting about the dipping thing. I'm glad Rob didn't point out until afterwards that there were tons of head-on baby shrimp in there. I don't really like shrimp. Heads-on, especially! I don't know why the picture won't upload properly, but here it is, in all its sideways glory.

The portion was crazy small and one order of pad thai was not cutting it. So I decided to be more adventurous and get some duck pho this time around. I tried not to watch while they cut the meat for me. At least I knew it was fresh.
Later in our trip, we visited this unpronouncable noodle place. Lonely Planet promised it would be an "intensely spicy and satifying" experience. We had a bit of trouble finding it, and when we asked a local if she could point us in the right direction, she warned us "very spicy!!"

The noodles were a little spicy, I guess, but not worth all the warnings. I was tempted to write to Lonely Planet and tell them it was a semi-spicy and mostly-satisfying experience. The dishes, again, were small (maybe that's how the Thai's stay so tiny?), served in shallow metal bowls. We both ordered different chicken dishes, because unfortunately, they were out of pork that night. One was a bit more noodley, the other had a dark broth and a spicier taste. It was probably one of the more authentic restaurants we visited, and we enjoyed that. We were less pampered than at Ban Chiang (mostly tourists) but not uncomfortably out of place like at that Hong Kong hot pot spot (totally Asian).

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