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Motormouth From Ipoh

Friday, July 31, 2009

Bangkok - Of Temples (Wat Pho/Wat Arun) & Giant Baguettes ?!!

Continuation from Bangkok - Floating Market & Death Railway ....

The pier where the passengers are waiting for their "water taxis" to arrive

A lighter post for the weekend (Read : More pictures, less words. Happy?). Late in the afternoon, we took the water taxi to Wat Arun, a famous Buddhist temple also known as Temple of Dawn. Since this temple, and Wat Pho (another famous temple in the vicinity - across the river from Wat Arun. Wat Pho houses the gigantic reclining Buddha statue) are only few stops away from the Chao Phraya Express' Phra Arthit (Banglumpoo) stop, which in return, is within walking distance from Khao San Road.

Rocky ride side, the boat ride is a tad cheaper than your cabs, and tuk-tuks

For a mere 13baht/RM1.30 per person, we took the water taxi from Phra Arthit to Tha Tien, where Wat Pho is located. Do bear in mind that the boats can be a little uncomfortable, and it's not uncommon to see people standing around without seats. So if you're one who experiences seasickness easily, refrain from pushing your luck. The Thai people may not appreciate your vomits on their clothes, for sure.

Wat Pho aka The Temple of Reclining Buddha - Count them spikes!

Selling pork sausages by the road, and scenes around Wat Pho

To enter the hall with the reclining buddha, a fee of 50baht/RM5 per person is required. Since we've been there before, we abstained from viewing the large statue, and instead snapped pictures around the vicinity. There are more than enough shrines, halls, statues, etc for you to shoot, really.

Towering structures, golden statues, and a generally serene environment around Wat Pho

Wat Pho, also known as Wat Phra Chetuphon, is in fact a stone's throw away from that famous Grand Palace. A must-see attraction if it's your first time to Bangkok. Entrance fee back then (three years ago) was 250baht/RM25, but has since been increased to 350baht/RM35 this year. Source : Tourism Thailand.

Colourful wishes on a 'tree', Wat Arun from a distance, and the shrine nearby.

From Wat Pho, we took a connecting boat ride across the Chao Phraya river to the other side of the bank, a very short 5 minutes ride for 3baht/RM0.30 per person.

Wat Arun - The Temple of Dawn. Before the lighting up and all .....

Wat Arun, also known as the Temple of Dawn, is opened to the public for free. Except if one decides to enter the inner-gated area of the Temple, with the Prangs (the pyramid-like towers), whereby a minimal fee of 50baht/RM5 will be charged. Opens daily from 7.30am until 5.30pm.

Wat Arun come sundown .... Wait for this. By 7pm, the sky will be dark enough for memorable shots of the grand structures (Prang)

Highly recommended to come here late in the afternoon, and stay until nightfall. To get the best of both worlds, so to speak. A remarkable sight to behold, especially at the speck of dawn. Or dusk, since coming here before sunrise sounds rather absurd. =)

Spoilt for choice - Breakfast @ Soi Rambuttri, near Khao San Road

This post contains the bits and pieces, or remnants if you will, of our 2 days stay in Lamphu House on Soi Rambuttri, near to Khao San Road. On the last day, we decided to join the foreigners/backpackers (trust me, there were hundreds, or probably thousands of Westerners there!) for a hearty breakfast by the streets. You know, those stalls that serve a little bit of everything, from Pad Thai and Curry Rice to Pancakes, Muesli and Sandwiches.

Banana Pancake with Chocolate Sauce - 45baht/RM4.50

Delightful stuff! Decadent, with sweet yet not overly-cloying chocolate syrup, and a whole sliced banana, the surprisingly fluffy pancake was whipped up NOT by any Caucasians, but two petite Thai girls themselves!

Omelette Chamni Style - Bacons, Cheees and Vegetables @ 55baht/RM5.50

The appearance may be deceiving, but the thin crepe-like omelette was oozing with melted cheese, and topped with pork bacons and julienned vegetables. Light, yet hearty and filling enough for breakfast.

Baguette Sandwich with Ham & Cheese (top) and fillings of pan-fried chicken meat (bottom)

Since this was a make-shift stall of sorts (doubtful they ever move away though, given the rather amicable number of customers patronizing), the 'kitchen' space is certainly limiting, and the wait for one's food may be slightly longer than expected. Of course, you don't expect 3 Michelin stars type of service, or dining comfort.

The baguette came in shocking portions, and we were thankful we shared amongst the four of us. With generous filling of meat and vegetables, highly doubtful a small eater can stuff the whole sandwich by herself.

Wanna know how BIG exactly was the baguette?

BIG enough to cover half of their faces. No joke.

Breakfast for four came to 255 baht/RM25.50. And there are stalls such as these strewn everywhere on Soi Rambuttri. Alternatives include cafes at every corner of the Soi, as well as Khao San road, usually belonging to the same owner of the respective guesthouse/hotel. You won't miss them, trust me.

And with that, we parted ways with Khao San Road, felt almost like old friends bidding each other goodbyes.

So where to NEXT? =)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Khuntai Restaurant @ Butterworth, Penang - Thai Food, No Frills

A short break from the Bangkok posts, here's something closely related, yet hundreds of miles away from Thailand. Khuntai Restaurant is indeed closer to home; A heaven for those craving for a lip-smackingly sumptuous Thai meal, with emphasis on grilled/BBQ meats and seafood, and dining al fresco style, in Butterworth, Penang.

With ample seats, whether one chooses to be seated 'indoors' or 'outdoors' (under those bamboo + straw huts), dining here can be either fun and cooling, OR darn hot and infested with mosquitoes!

A little long overdue, this post was supposed to see the light of day sometime ago, right after the Penang's exodus. But somehow got suffocated in my own work, and Whoosh!!!! The month of June has come and gone in a flash.

And even July is miraculously slipping under my nose. Geez ..... Time DOES fly when one's having fun eh? ;)

The ambience is no doubt, one of the pulling factor @ Khuntai

Thanks to tintin (yeah, farny name I know), a resident on mainland of Penang, we were brought to Khuntai Restaurant in Raja Uda, Butterworth, Penang. A spacious restaurant, with its own parking lot by the side (but you can actually park haphazardly anywhere at all, given the rather obscure location), this al fresco style restaurant purpotedly serves delicious yet authentic Thai food, at a fraction of the prices in higher end restaurants.

Mieng Kam, a famous appetizer - Wrap em up and pop the whole thing into your mouth!

Started off withe Mieng Kam, one of my most preferred Thai appetizer, aside from the tangy mango/papaya salad. Betel leaves wrapping peanuts, dried shrimps, ginger, dried coconut flesh, bird's eye chillies and onion. Then add a dollop of the sweetish chilli sauce, and voila! A mixture of spicy, sour, and sweet flavours bursting in one's mouth. Unless of course, you're not fond of the green and raw, ulam-like taste.

It's hot, It's red. But it ain't that spicy .... Tom Yum with Seafood

The Tom Yum was barely torching our tongues, with heavier hints of fresh tomatoes and a generally thicker, wholesome taste with a nice touch of herbs. As far as Tom Yum goes in my book, this one passed the test of the palate, but without flying colours. Or probably we were expecting a lot more than this.

BBQ Squids

Bouncy texture of squids, barbecued to perfection, served with two dipping sauces. One being the familiar Thai chilli sauce with crushed peanuts, and another with a distinct fiery and sour kick. Not bad, but the portion was slightly on the smaller end of the scale.

Thai-style Steamed Fish

Geez, my memory failed me yet again. Price-wise, and species-wise. But this should be a siakap, steamed with the signature spicy and tangy sauce, and served over the fire. Firm and tender flesh, the fish was thankfully fresh and devoid of unpleasant fishy/muddy taste.

Pandan Chicken, Batter-fried Kangkung, Pineapple Fried Rice, and Ambra Juice (or was it Sugar Cane?)

Negligible items include the fried rice with pineapples and cashew nuts, and the pandan chicken. The deep-fried kangkung (water convolvulus or morning glory) was okay, paired with sweet Thai chilli sauce, but turned soggy soon after.

Steamed Large Mantis Prawns (RM7.50 each) and La-la Clams

But the highlight of our Thai experience were the steamed mantis prawns, and steamed lala clams. Lightly steamed with slices of garlic, and some chopped cili padi, the fresh and succulent mantis prawns were devoured in record time, almost shells and all! OK, maybe not. But the crustacean was really fresh, firm and springy, and needed no condiments to enhance the already sweet flavour of the flesh. The same goes for the clams, which was equally fresh and sweet. (And pleasantly clean - No gritty bits of sands, or dirt)

It is VERY dark on the outside at night, hence take note of where the other cars are heading to, and the signboard.

The meal came to about RM150 for the 5 of us, including white rice, and drinks. Rather reasonable, given the amount of food ordered. The menu covers a whole range of Thai delights, but we left the ordering to the 'local' instead. :)

Location : Khuntai Restaurant @ 104, Permatang Tengah, 13000 Butterworth, Penang. Opens from 11 am until 12 midnight. Tel No : +604-3327523.

Here's a Google MAP I managed to get from the internet. Sorry I can't verify the exact location, as I am not familiar with roads in Butterworth.

B-Suite (www) @ Bayan Lepas, Penang. Where I spent my nights .....

Monday, July 27, 2009

Bangkok - Damnoen Saduak Floating Market & The River Kwai Bridge

Lost? Here's another chapter from the Bangkok 2009 Saga - from previous chapter; Chinatown of Bangkok .....

Lively, colourful, vibrant and jammed?! - Damnoen Saduak Floating Market @ Ratchaburi, approximately 110km south of Bangkok,Thailand.

Since this was supposed to be a purely gluttons'/shopaholics' trip, sight-seeing was never a mainstay in our itinerary. Except for the Floating Market, as Min has never been there before.

Mama Travel & Tour @ Khaosan Road

That was the sole reason why we chose to stay in Khao San for the first 2 nights, then moving to the city (Pratunam area) for the subsequent three. At Khao San Road (and its vicinity, esp Soi Rambuttri where our Lamphu House is located), there are quite a number of guesthouses and cafes offering tour packages, from daytrip to overnight sensations. Wait, i meant those that require staying overnight, eg. Chiang Mai, Ayuthaya, Pattaya, and so forth. Of course, one can also go for day trip to the last two destinations aforementioned.

For 450 baht/RM45 per person (after some bargaining, down from 500 baht per person), we took up the day trip to Floating Market in Ratchaburi (remember the Damnoen Saduak is the REAL deal, hence remember to make doubly sure you're not carted to some other floating markets elsewhere), and the so-called Death Railway aka The River Kwai Bridge at Kanchanaburi.

Taking up the 'sampan' ride to the market ......

The package includes pickup by van at your hotel/guesthouse early in the morning (about 7am), and all transportation fees, including the boat ride (sampan) for about 20-30 minutes to the market, and lunch at Kanchanaburi area. The journey was a bit tiring, we only managed to reach back at Khao San Road at about 8pm. From Bangkok to Ratchaburi, it took us about 2-3 hours. Depending on the speed/skills of the driver, and the vehicle you're being transported in.

The boats, the houses on planks, and even a massage centre?!!! How does one alight from the boat and get his dose of massage? Beats me.

The locals around the area - Life on water to them, is nothing exceptional.

Vague memories of our trip to Bangkok some 3 years ago - We took the Floating Market/Death Railway combo as well, but at the market, we were transported in a motorboat, instead of the wooden boat, which requires much rowing about. But fret not, you paid, so sit back and enjoy the ride, and the scenery.

Business as usual - Except on water. The water's not rocky, so stop worrying bout seasick/motion sickness!

Sweet nectar of Thai mangoes (20baht/RM2), Khanom Buang (20baht for 3), Delicious coconut ice-cream with coconut flesh (15baht/RM1.50), and cute, tiny coconut dessert with corns, almost like our Apom (20baht/RM2 for a pack)

As we travelled down the canal, the sights, sounds and smell were all enticing enough to warrant for your attention. Though the space along the canal may be slightly constricted (hence you're not allowed to put your hands outside of the boat, lest you feel like losing a hand's nothing major!). The boats will bump into each other, people on the other boats will smile at you, snap pictures of your face (you are after all, a foreigner just like the others), and the boat you're travelling in will periodically stop at the side of the canal for transactions to be made; Be it for the snacks, the souvenirs, or the clothings and accessories. Just signal for your 'captain' to halt temporarily. They'll be please to oblige.

Something substantial - Pork Noodles @ 30baht/RM3 per serving.

After making one round through the canal, we were given an hour to walk on foot. We took this opportunity for camwhoring (But do realise that the picture perfect scenes of a colourful, congested Floating Market on postcards is not that easy to replicate. Why? Because the traders on boats have to make way for the boats with passengers, thus they're positioned at the 'bank' instead of the middle of the canal), watching how the locals there go about with their lives, the tourists having a ball of a time (notice amidst the H1N1 scare, the place was still crowded on a weekday's morning), and of course, stuffing ourselves with snacks and such.

Colourful fruits in abundance at the market

One sweet dessert that we came to love is the Khanom Buang, the crispy rice flour dough with a dollop of tooth-numbingly sweet coconut cream, served with shreds of salted egg yolk (yellow ones), or spicy dessicated coconut (orange ones). At 20baht/RM2 for 3 pieces, don't go overboard, unless you have a very,very sweet tooth.

And as predicted, the mangoes were sweet, almost honey-like. This time around I skipped having the accompanying glutinous rice with coconut milk, to avoid the feeling of being full that early in the morning. The coconut ice-cream was creamy, smooth, and served with coconut flesh in a cute, small coconut shell. Be wary as another stall's coconut ice-cream was a plain, sugary intepretation. We bought from the stall nearer to the coffee counter.

The lady making Khanom Buang ..... one piece at 10baht, 3 pieces for 20baht. You do the math ...

Do be careful when getting on, or alighting from your boat though. As we witnessed a rather tragic incident whereby a Korean guy slipped and his DSLR fell into the waters! But fortunately he managed to salvage his prized possession in time.

If your tour package does NOT include the boat ride around the canal, fret not. You can opt to go for a round-canal ride at the market itself, for additional charge (sorry, not sure about the fee).

Bamboo House @ Kanchaburi - A guesthouse where we stopped for lunch

Thank goodness we had some light snacks and such at the Floating Market. For the distance between the market to Kanchanaburi (our next destination, for the Bridge over River Kwai aka Death Railway) was a lot more further than we expected. About 2 hours' drive. Or the driver could be driving at anything but break-neck speed. We dozed off in the van repeatedly, so can't be sure.

Lunch was a pitiful plate of fried rice, with eggs, tomatoes, chicken and well, that's almost it. Served with a grand, luxurious bottle of ...... chilled plain water. LOL. We were taken aback, but the taste was okay, and we walloped our plateful of rice in no time. One thing about Thai style of frying their rice, liberal dash of fish sauce is usually added in, hence the extra oomph in every bite. It almost passes off as MSG (flavour enhancer that makes you thirsty like a camel), but sans the irritating dry throat effect.

One consolation was the Bamboo House is a really cool place, isolated and with serene surroundings to boot. There are even chalets by the lake! Talk about getaway. But unless you're forsaking the glitters and bustle of Bangkok city, and looking for a quiet respite (and maybe trekking activities at Kanchanaburi), then this guesthouse may just be the place for you. Here's a link from

The Bridge over River Kwai - even the Thai students in pink came for an educational tour!

Kanchanaburi area not only houses the infamous Death Railway (why the solemn, almost morbid moniker, refer to its dark history HERE), but one other famous attraction is the Tiger Temple or Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua, which is not without its own share of controversies. To cut a long story short (hehe), the entrance fee to the temple is 500baht/RM50 per person which was NOT included in the package. Not intending to fork out another 500baht for a wilder version of petting zoo (Tigers should be roaming free in the wild, not in temples! That's my opinion anyway), we were told to roam the River Kwai Bridge and War Museum (same area, within walking distance, at 40baht/RM4 per entry) for an astounding three and a half hours!

An oasis in the middle of the desert. A welcoming sight, to pass time, and re-energize.

So we took our own sweet time, admiring the view and scenery around the Railway (which has a funny train/tram running through every now and then, carrying passengers ala zoo style choo-choo train), and went into full snapping-galore mode.

However, to pass a good 2 hours may sound tedious, but 3.5 hours on a bridge with tracks is plain MAD! Thus, we did the next best thing; We went to search for a massage parlour! And glad to discover one, a stone's throw from the War Museum. The girls went for the foot massage (250baht/RM25 per hour) while we went for the Thai massage (200baht/RM20 per hour). Not the most pleasant of massage, but can lah ..... and that's another hour down!

Hear me RAWRRRR !!!!! ..... in my dreams. ;)

The above photo is exactly the reason why we avoided the Temple. No hard feelings, but to chain a cub (erm, it's not exactly a fully-grown one, yet not a baby tiger) to the table, and doing brisk business by charging 100baht/RM10 for a photography session with the tiger/cub, was a rather harsh treatment to the poor cat. There was another cuter, and younger leopard cub around, which was playful but also chained in the same manner.

The Bridge over River Kwai aka Death Railway/Burma Railway -
Hauntingly beautiful

And with that, we ended our day, and slept throughout the journey back to Bangkok. A good 3 hours or so ride, coupled with the rather notorious traffic jams in the city. Needless to say, we were famished, and fatigued by the time we arrived back at our guesthouse.

Note : The package we took last time, for about the same price (500baht/person) but includes a better lunch option (rice and dishes), and a short trip to Nakhon Pathom, but excluding the sampan boat ride around the canal at the Floating Market in Damnoen Saduak. So, it's wise to compare between the tour agencies before setting foot on your journey. And do remember to bargain if you're going in a large group.

## Floating Market @ Damnoen Saduak opens in the morning only. From about 8am onwards, until early afternoon. ##

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Manjung Coconut Jelly/Joez Coconut Jelly - A Father & Son's Empire

#Disclaimer : Beware the insanity that follows ..... everything's completely fictional, and Motormouth has NOT gone bonkers. Take it with a pinch of salt. Right until the very end. #

“After too many Slippery Nipples the night before, I woke up with a massive hangover and was extremely late for an important meeting. In my haste, I found myself clad in nothing but a pair of daisy-print boxers in front of a board of CEOs.”

Da Much Feared, Much Worshipped Board of CEO's ... Coconut jElly of Orgasmic proportion.

Cumming Coming to da office at an EXTREMELY late hour had me shaken (not stirred) in my boots, pants and all. Moreso when facin' the almighty, "sacred lords" codenamed CEO's, all 11 of them at one go. They probably don't have nothing better to do than holding meetings day in day out, at an alarming frequency.

P/S : On a side note, that last line bears some truth in it, categorized as NON-fiction. LOL. But anyway .....

All hail Tai Kor #1

Nobody messes with the sandals-wearing, carrying TWO pair of glasses at any one time (in case sparks fly between opposing clans/tribes ... you'll never know) and the habit of scoopin'-them- brain-juices-out-of-the-skulls-into-me-mouth TAI KOR #1.

TAI KOR #1 : Ahem ahem .... ahem. Soooo yer gonna waltz in so the very late oledi, N gimme some cranky cerita about Slipper-Nipples eh? Very the daring this padawan. Ahem, I mean, young one. N very the unrespectful to the elderly, NOT me, I'm still young & hung hunk, but the other 11 CEO's on the board. I meant, table. Yer eyez cannot see that they're already fumin'/blisterin/far ....... ting MAD ah?!

Swallowing my pride, and protecting da very exclusive family jewels from overly shrivelling due to air-cond blasting at full force (ya know we Malaysians ... tarak winter, so kena buat pirated copy of the climate in office) and still clad in da daisy-print boxers. But wait, was it MY fault that I was in a boxer (with daisy da FLOWER-prints! NOT Daisy Duck prints, ok!) in the first place?

Wait, was it even MY doing?!!!!

Suddenly the clouds parted ways, the haze/mist became clear, truth prevailed ... yadda yadda. I was drugged! Not by any means of the opiate kind, mind you. It's a Slippery Nipples of da most intoxicating kind !!!! (cue : OooooHHHHH ..... with dat suspenseful-revelations tone)

It was Mr Mathy all along!

Just look at the hundreds and thousands of coconuts stacked in the fridge, awaiting to be transformed into the gang of ze EVIL CEO's !!!! Masquerading themselves at night as Slippery Nipples (no Sambuca, no Irish Cream for sure!), the milky, whitish (don't get naughty ideas) shades of the inner walls of the coconuts, resembling da most delicious drink in da world named colostrum-fuelled mother's breast milk.

But wait, I remembered some substance. Some springy, jelly-like (again, DON'T be getting farny farny idea, I tell u), smooth materials that glided down my throat. Tasted like refreshing coconut water, without much enhancers (no sugar, no salt, no pepper (duh) and no artificial flavouring/colouring/preservatives!)

Wait, Mr Mathy's Manjung Jelly notwithstanding, he actually got a partner-in-crime!!!! His very own loyal & filial SON from Joez Coconut Jelly!

Oh dear. Not once was I tricked devilishly by the coconut jelly empire. The father (not Darth, but Mathy) had me enticed, intoxicated and lulled into several big coconut jellies in Manjung in Perak. But in Penang, the son named Joel @ Joe (alter egos are omnipresent on ze face of ze earth!) knew that I was as easy as pie to be duped/tricked/drunk on da coconut jellies !!!

Then my mind suddenly rewind itself back to that fateful afternoon ...... ze violent chopping/slashing motion got me hypnotized/terrified/terrorized all at the same time!

Aiyo, I tell u, the coconut jellies from both places (Manjung Jelly's the original supplier hence deemed as ze MAIN culprit) were equally intoxicating! Even of higher addictiveness than a 70% bottle of alcohol/ethanol!! Wait ... that doesn't sound right .....

Especially when our dearest old country's in a heated turmoil now, what's more with fingers pointing up,down,left,right and people dying for NO reason (and supposedly.... horrifyingly ..... no foul play. Ahem).

A refreshing, RM3 (in Manjung)/RM3.50 (in Penang) 'biji' of Coconut Jelly is all we need, to forget the material world for one second, and relish in our existence in this world! YAY !!!! Embrace the Coconut Jelly, People !!!!

See the transaction above?! They're EVILS! and the Tag line !! No wonder I was duped. Me being IQ of less than 40 and all ........ very tricky people these ones.

Wait, so that was how I got drunk the other night, from a severe case of coconut jelly-overdose. A rare disease this one, even House nor Grey's Anatomy people (wait, the latter only were good at screwing around .....) could never decipher a clinical findings as obscure as mine.

To even reach the extent of terrorizing-ly hypnotized yours truly to unwillingly wear a pair of shame-shame daisy-print boxers all the way to work, all the while polluting the horny minds of ze little people on the streets along the way.

Refreshing, cooling and addictive. Call now to be enticed .....

The above story was no thanks all thanks to Bangsar-Babe for passing around the torch. Or tag, originating from Thamby .... oops, Lemongrass herself. =P

The Coconut Jelly are branded under the banner of Manjung Jelly, all thanks to the innovative/creative/entrepreneurial ideas of a humble Mr Mathy. This brilliant idea of his came to fruition about 2 years ago, and still is a project under the watchful eyes of FAMA.

He's not sitting at home shaking his legs though. NO sirree .... He's perpetually on the run, even sending/exporting the product himself, to all over Malaysia. Currently his son, Mr. Joel @ Joe is helming a shop in Penang's Jalan Dato Keramat (the other Penang floggers have gave adequate reviews and publicity to Joez Coconut up north), and he's even exporting them over the boundaries, to Singapore.

Producing and selling off in excess of about 500-800 coconut jellies per day, he's mass-producing the delightful dessert at his shop in Manjung, which not unlike Joez Coconut in Penang, offers tables and seats for those wanting to savour their jellies or coconut drinks there and then.

If you're wondering, what's the BIG fuss about some simple coconut jelly that even the average layman can make? You're wrong. Note that the jelly is not formed outside of the shell. But instead, the jelly is 'injected' INTO the coconut which is still intact, using a specific method utilizing machineries. Then under the extreme low temperature, the jelly is formed WITH the coconut water inside of the young coconut. Almost like a science tutorial, eh? :)

Location : MAE Tendernut Jelly aka Manjung Jelly @ 45, Persiaran PM 2/3, Pusat Bandar Seksyen 2, 32040 Seri Manjung, Perak. Opens daily from 9am til 7pm. Tel No : 605-688 5654 or 6019-416 6603 (Mathy)

Location : Joez Enterprise aka Joez Coconut @ 201, Jalan Dato Kramat, 10150 Pulau Pinang. H/P No : 6016-440 9049. E-mail :

## Now for ze most evil deed ever known to mankind (in the blogosphere, at least) ... I'm passing this tag to ... Unkaleong! Yeahlah, I know you're BUSY and all, but nah ... too bad! ##

" As Thorny spoke to the Stinky, let's fight to da finish, and see who in ze end, got da Sloppy! Wrestle we will, dropkick/elbowdrop and all, spells we shall cast upon all who stand in our ways ..... but me wanna see da BEST man WINS! "

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Chinatown, Bangkok - Night and Day

From previous chapter of Best Pad Thai, Lamphu House & Khao San Road .....

Complete with neon lights, gaudy architectures, cabs plying the route non-stop, and tuk-tuk terrorizing the streets .... Bangkok's Chinatown lights up come sundown.

Chinatown (or Yaowarat Road) is a part of Bangkok that's rather famous come sundown, aside from the perennial favourite of many (hehe); Patpong. But of course, for all the RIGHT reasons, as opposed to the RED light district aforementioned. ;)

T&K Seafood Restaurant @ Chinatown - With the cheerful workers all decked in GREEN. Such nature lovers these Thais are .....

Thanks to sc, we managed to manoeuvred our ways to one of Chinatown's best offerings, the seafood restaurants. We took a cab from somewhere around Khao San Road (we were fresh off the river taxi ride from Wat Arun) to Chinatown, telling the driver that we were on the prowl for seafood at Chinatown. And hey, no perfect Engrish necessary, as Chinatown (or better known as Yaowarat, referring to the name of the road) is well-known to locals and foreigners alike. 100baht/RM10 per way, and don't try to bargain unnecessarily. (Trust me, I did and nearly got rolled over at Chinatown!!)

Tangy tangerine juice, sweet coconut juice fresh from the shell, and the condiments - sweet, sour and fiery

There are two VERY prominent seafood restaurants in Chinatown, by the roadside. But of course, you can choose to sit inside, with air-conditioning in times of near-heatstroke. One of them being T&K Seafood, with workers all decked in lime GREEN T-shirts, while their stiff competitor wears RED, directly opposite of each other, named Lek & Rut. At each other's throat or not, I don't know. But one thing for sure, both outlets were packed like sardines the moment we were there for dinner. And it wasn't even a weekend or public holiday.

Juicy, succulent LARGE prawns barbecued @ 150baht/RM15

Most impressive dish in their repertoire is their BBQ seafood, from crabs to prawns, and fish to squids. Fresh, succulent supplies grilled to perfection, retaining most moisture, and freshness. The prawns for one, reminded me of our very own Tanjung Tualang's BIG-headed river prawns, only a little larger at T&K. From 150 to 300 baht per serving. Very juicy, sweet & fresh. Smokey flavour imparted from the grill, the prawns can be eaten plain or with the accompanying dipping sauces. One being the sweet Thai chilli sauce, another was the slightly sour & spicier green chilli dip.

Fried Meat Crab with Yellow Curry Powder @ 300baht/RM30

The crabs cooked with the thick, almost gelatinous curry powder and beaten eggs fared not too well though. The curry paste being a little overwhelming and rich, while the crab (only one, for we ordered the small portion) was nothing to shout about. (300baht for Small, 350baht for Medium, and 400baht for Large).

Oyster Omelette/Or Chien @ 100baht/RM10

Unlike sc's version, this one did not come on a bed of bean sprouts, but instead akin to the average fried egg omelette commonly found everywhere. Not crispy at all, with meagre servings of oysters. Served with a sweet chilli sauce. Forgettable.

Steamed Squid with Garlic, Lemon Juice and Chilli @ 150baht/RM15

Fortunately, the steamed squids fared so much better. Springy, fresh squids complemented perfectly by the zesty sauce. Almost resembling the type of gravy used in steaming fish, Thai-style.

Tom Yum Seafood @ 100-150baht/RM10-RM15

The Tom Yum came brimming with fish slices, prawns, squids, mushrooms and such. Surprisingly not spicy at all, given the country's notorious fiery dishes. Maybe because it was Chinatown? But the combination of flavours worked wonders, especially paired with the fluffy white rice.

See the small, confined seating area? In fact, there are FIVE storeys to T&K, climbing the steep staircases endlessly til you find an empty table!

The meal was priced at 1035 baht/RM103, including drinks for the four of us. Reasonable, but not dirt-cheap. But still, with prawns, crabs, and squids all present (albeit in small portions), it's a steal, really.

Location : T&K Seafood Restaurant @ 49-51 Phadung Dao Rd, Chinatown, Bangkok.
Tel No : (02) 223 4519. Opens daily: 4:30 pm – 2:00 a.m.

(info taken from sc's blog HERE)

Hop over after dinner, for some cooling desserts .......

Chinatown in Bangkok's not only famous for the seafood, but also for the many shops selling cheap bird's nest soup, shark's fins soup, as well as outlets selling typical Chinese dried goods.

Sweet, cooling and soothing .... who cares if they're real or made from jelly? :)

We passed by Nam Sing, a few shops away from T&K Seafood, and instantly drawn to the two shoplots, air-conditioned restaurant serving shark's fins and bird's nest soups. Of course, at Chinatown, you can savour a full bowl to yourself, at almost dirt cheap prices.

The accompanying ginkgo, red dates and longan in syrup

At Nam Sing, we were served with cooling chrysanthemum tea the instant we sat down. Welcomingly refreshing, given the hotter than ideal weather in Bangkok right then.

The bird's nest is segregated into 4 different classes, with 1st class being the most pricey (1000baht/serving!), and the 4th being cheapest (200baht/bowl). We picked the 3rd class (hehehe, being 3rd world mentality and all?) at 300baht/RM30 per bowl. Enough to be shared amongst two, served with sides of either longan, or ginkgo nuts in syrup. A lovely end to the meal, and call it placebo effect if you would; We felt soothed, refreshed, and radiant almost instantly. LOL.

Location : Nam Sing Bird Nest @ 39-47 Soi Texas, Phadung Dao Road, Yaowaraj, Bangkok, Thailand. Various other branches elsewhere, even in Pattaya, and Hong Kong! Opens from 9.00am - 2.00am.

Daytime in Chinatown .... a little lonely, but not without its charm

Then one fine morning (after we've moved to a boutique hotel in town - more on that in later posts), we've lost all opinions on where to have our breakfast. Sure the omnipresent 7-11 was tempting, with cheap hot dogs, burgers, pizzas and buns, but we practically had them for breakfast almost every single day during the last trip, 3 years ago.

Wat Traimit in Chinatown, still under construction it seemed

So, for something completely out of the ordinary, we ventured to Chinatown for some good old dim sum breakfast. Yup, read that right. Dim Sum in Bangkok. We were near locos, nearing the end of our trip. Side effect of over-paranoia (no thanks to H1N1)?

Temples at almost every corner in Bangkok. Nothing to do after meal? Let's Pray! Enough of shopping and walking around? Let's Pray! ;)

But dear taxi driver was probably not very familiar with Chinatown area. As we requested to stop at any good dim sum outlet, and though he nodded, we alighted from the cab directly in front of a hotel. Or sorts. And thinking "Wah .... so posh meh ... go hotel's dim sum restaurant?!" Only to be shamed as the hotel does not permit entry to outsiders. Whoops.

A corner lot at Soi Sukon in Chinatown, serving typical Chinese hawker fare.

And so, round and round we went on foot, desperately seeking for a dim sum place to satisfy our hunger. We woke up rather late that morning, since it's a Sunday after all.

But to no avail. Most shops were not even opened that early, and directions from the locals ain't helping at all.

Chicken Rice, Popiah, Pork Noodles and Pork Congee for breakfast -Simple, yet effective

Thankfully, as the locals spoke Mandarin fluently around the area, one lady guided us to Soi Sukon for breakfast. Or wait .... that has to be brunch, by that time.

A very old and classic coffee shop, it reminded us of Penang's typical kopitiam, with several stalls all around, lining up to satiate the hunger pangs.

We had some hawker grubs, particularly memorable was the porridge with pork meat balls, and a raw egg, and the unassumingly-delicious popiah (julienned vegetables + pork slices wrapped crepe-style, served with a sweetish sauce).

This uncle was even featured in the papers! Frying some Or Chien/Oyster Omelette

Nice, crispy edges gave the Or Chien some crunch, with lots of bean sprouts, chives and coriander. And of course, plump oysters. But if I'm not mistaken, mussels were used instead.

The Or Chien/Oyster (or in this case, mussels) omelette was scrumptious, miles better than the one at T&K. A little greasy, but negligible given the extra crisp in exchange. No wonder the uncle was frying the omelette non-stop that morning!

The meal costed a mere 193 baht/RM19.30, for everything including drinks.

Location : Corner shoplot No 342 (facing a corner 7-11 Store), on Soi Sukon 1, Samphantawong, Bangkok, Thailand. Here's a Google Map of the place.

Sweet, sweet Bananas on a High !!!

Ever heard of roasted bananas? They're sweet, they're filling, they're cheap, and they're everywhere in Bangkok !!! Located in front of a 7-11 Store, opposite the aforementioned No 342 Coffee Shop.

And that wraps up the Chinatown segment of our Bangkok 2009 getaway .....