When in Thailand…

by Forager on October 20, 2008

My friend just asked for some tips for travelling in Thailand. She’s going to Bangkok and Krabi in about 2 weeks time. I’ve been asked a number of times now for Thailand tips – not that I’ve travelled extensively through the area – perhaps just because I enthuse about my Thai trips so much. What’s not to love really? The weather is always lovely and warm, the food is fantastic and everything is so cheap you can afford to get a massage every single day. So, here are some of my favourite restaurants and tips for Bangkok and Krabi.

Bangkok

There are plenty of good places to eat in Bangkok – in fact, if you walk into any little eatery, you’re guaranteed to get a meal that’s going to be pretty damn tasty and pretty good by Sydney standards. But a couple of places really come to mind when I think of food in Bangkok:

* Vientianne Kitchen
http://www.vientiane-kitchen.com/
If you like spicy food, like me, then this is not the place for you. This place is reserved for homicidal chilli maniacs. The restaurant specialises in Thai food from the isarn region, in north eastern Thailand near the Laos border. In hindsight, I now know that chilli is a prominent feature of this cuisine. The meal I had here was undoubtedly the hottest meal I’ve ever had in my life. The chefs use a type of green chilli (which lulls the diner into a false sense of security because there isn’t any chilli red through the dish) but the chilli itself seemed to have a 2 min capsaicin delay, so 2 mins after your first mouthful, the chilli really kicks in. And then you have another 2 mins of pure joy to look forward to. The picture to the left was one of the dishes I remember having. Before I say what it was I have to say that it was interesting and tasty – and before I singed my tastebuds off I remember a very strong bamboo flavour throughout this.. green curry and ant eggs soup. And sometime after I went into chilli pain hysteria and before I hit chilli delirium I remember quite enjoying my cold beer whilst watching the Thai dancing performance. It doesn’t sound like much of a positive review but I think it’s worth checking out – just make sure you throw out any silly preconceptions that you can deal with spicy food before you order.

* Le Dalat
http://www.ledalatindochinebkk.com/
We’ve been here twice now and enjoyed it both times. Le Dalat is a superb fine dining Vietnamese restaurant. Although we endeavour to try different things on the menu each time that we’re there, there are a few things we can’t go past. The appetizer on the right is one of them – fried minced pork, prawn and crab meat spring rolls served with lettuce & herbs. Yum! Makes it worthwhile going back to Bangkok just for this!

* Seafood Market and Restaurant
http://www.seafood.co.th/
http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=HFxZDZKoQME
There was another restaurant I wanted to try the last time I was there – maybe not surprisingly, I heard about it through Tony Bourdain’s A Cooks Tour episode in Bangkok. We never made it there but with its shopping trolley system it looked pretty intriguing to me. With the billion watt supernova quality fluorescent lighting, I’d give it a miss if you’re after a cosy romantic dinner. “If it swims, we have it” – what a brilliant tag line. Sold! It reminds me of something my mother said to me once about the Chinese people (another of her crazy generalisations): “if it has its back turned to the sky, then you can eat it“. By this reasoning, only upright animals with a bipedal stance are safe – humans, some primates and I guess the odd meerkat when it gets up on his hind quarters. I have since wondered whether crawling babies are safe from the Chinese. Probably not.

Krabi
As for Krabi – well, we didn’t spend much time there. I recommend getting a boat to Railay Beach and spending some R&R time there instead. We went there at the beginning of 2007 and it was glorious. The beaches were picturesque with limestone caves, the water warm, the snorkelling fantastic and the food just delicious. On the left was a fantastic som tum (green papaya salad) maker. We stopped by everyday for our compulsory som tum.

But this place wasn’t about finding the fine dining options around town. Everyday was perfect – sun, swimming, snorkelling and abundant floating cafes on the beach to cater to your every whim, so everything tasted good.

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