Wednesday, July 10, 2013

thai food festival @centralworld

By this time next week, I shall be eating myself into a coma in Korea. Seoul apparently has a vibrant street food culture and I'm looking forward to sinking my teeth into something I've never tried before. Live octopus, maybe?

In the meantime, I'll have to be content with reminiscing about the street food fair that I visited in Bangkok last month.

This is what a food festival should look like!

Actually, we found it by accident. We were supposed to have dinner at Zense that evening. While waiting for my friends, we did a bit of window shopping at the incredibly ginormous CentralWorld, the sixth largest shopping complex in the world. After half an hour, we were overwhelmed and had to go outdoors to get our bearings. And there it was.

The Thai Food Festival: Easy Tasty Street Food, held from 13 to 16 June 2013, is literally all the Thai dishes you can think of under one roof.

The som tam (papaya salad) lady. Check out the pickled crabs in the jars. 

The ubiquitous pork leg stew. The anise perfumed the air around the stall.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

bittersweet bangkok

Bangkok has always been one of my favorite cities, and I feel so fortunate that I have friends living there-- gives me an excuse to visit.

Hello, baby!

On 15 June 2013, my last night in Thailand, we had dinner at Zense Gourmet Deck & Lounge Panorama which is on the 17th floor of the Zen Lifestyle Trend Megastore. The view, advertised as "downtown's most encompassing panoramic view", was truly dramatic and the jazz singer was surprisingly good. As for the food, we agreed that it was satisfactory but not spectacular.

Isalata Caprese with fresh burrata. 4/5

Squid ink pasta with seafood. 4.25/5

Monday, July 8, 2013

last day in chiang mai 2013

Our last day, 14 June 2013, started late. We were at The Riverside Bar until the wee hours and couldn't get moving until it was time to check out of our guesthouse at 11AM. After a quick breakfast and visit to the money changer, we said goodbye to the old city of Chiang Mai and went to the Holiday Inn to wake Hot Tuna up.

It took ages for us to decide where to go for lunch; everyone was still feeling the effects of the Sambuca. In the end, CentralPlaza Chiang Mai Airport Mall, more popularly known as Central Airport Plaza, seemed to require the least effort. Shopping malls always have food courts, and faced with a myriad of choices, it should be easy to find something to eat. In theory.

Here was the problem: There were too many choices. Our solution: Get everything.

A platter of deep-fried things with the best shrimp paste I've ever tasted. Should've brought some home. 

Braised pork leg. I've noticed that Thais are crazy for this dish.

My first mango sticky rice of the week. The mangoes were super sweet, as all Thai mangoes seem to be.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

first day in chiang mai 2013

We arrived in Bangkok at noon on 10 June 2013 and took the bus to Chiang Mai in the evening. In 2012, we took the train (read about it here) and although I wouldn't say that it was not enjoyable, I didn't feel like doing it again. The VIP bus cost the same as the train, 836 baht per person one-way, but unlike the train it was on time. Our bus pulled out of Mo Chit Bus Terminal at exactly 9PM and nine hours later, as promised, we were in Chiang Mai!

We couldn't check in at our guesthouse at 6AM yet, so we just dropped off our bags and had breakfast at Funky Dog Café. Afterwards, we went exploring on foot. Last year, we were in Chiang Mai for only two nights and spent most of the time outside the city, so I was pretty excited to finally see what was inside the old city walls.

Our starting point was Tha Phae Gate and while walking down the main thoroughfare, Rachadamnoen Road, we saw a beautiful old house which turned out to be the office of the Lanna Architecture Center. The building itself is called Khum Chao Burirat ("khum" means royal residence) and it is wonderfully preserved and restored. It reminds me of our Philippine "bahay na bato"-- concrete first floor, wooden second floor, high ceilings and a wrap-around veranda for whiling away warm tropical afternoons.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

i love the (chiang mai) nightlife

Whenever I travel, I'm really not much of a shopper. I'm always too shy to haggle and I tend to treat foreign currency like Monopoly money. Before a trip, I do my research and prepare a short list, and then I try to buy everything all in one go to save time and energy, often with complete disregard for pricing. On 13 June 2013 in Chiang Mai, I felt like getting my shopping out of the way.

Since it was a weekday, we couldn't go to the Sunday Walking Market. We'd been to Warorot Market before, and the infamously overcrowded and kitschy Night Bazaar didn't sound too appealing. So I suggested Anusan (or Anusarn) Night Market instead. The stalls were still being set up when we arrived at 7PM, so we decided to grab a bite first.

I had a hankering for seafood-- incongruous, I know, since Chiang Mai is in the mountains and nowhere near the ocean-- but sometimes I just gotta eat what I wanna eat. The restaurants in the middle of the market all looked quite similar, so we employed the scientific method: When in doubt, choose the one with the most number of customers. Plus the sign that said "Anusarn Seafood Market Center: Good Food Good Taste Good Quality" seemed promising.

I hadn't eaten crab in what seemed like ages, so after a quick consultation with our highly efficient and effective waiter, I decided to get two male crabs, each weighing about half a kilo: One for steaming and the other, stir-fried with curry powder. They cost about 1,200 baht in total. They definitely weren't cheap, but when I inspected the crabs, they passed the standards that my father taught me-- lively, didn't smell like piss, and felt heavy for their size.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

muay thai in chiang mai

When I was in Thailand last year, I planned to watch Muay Thai at Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, but the tickets were just too danged expensive. We ended up at a pingpong show on Patpong Road instead. That was a very interesting experience and one that I don't regret, but this June I knew that I couldn't forgive myself if I skipped Muay Thai again.

The owners of our guesthouse, Funky Monkey, told me that the big Thai boxing matches were scheduled on weekends. The event that I was thinking of attending at Thaphae Boxing Stadium was fixed for betting and not "real" Muay Thai. We were leaving Chiang Mai on Friday, though, so this was my best chance.

I decided to visit the venue to get more information. The "stadium" was small, but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. At least we were sure to be up close and personal with the action. The guy I talked to said, "Start nine o'clock, seven matches! Finish eleven, eleven thirty!" And then he reserved a table for us under the electric fan, very close to the ring. Sold!