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My Choice Restaurant in Bangkok

Michael Babcock, Monday, January 1st, 2018

(Click images to see larger version.)
(All the dishes mentioned can be seen in the slideshow at the end of the blog.)

My Choice sign

My Choice Restaurant Sign

My Choice Restaurant, on Sukhumvit Soi 36 (Soi Napasap) in Bangkok, has been one of our (Kasma’s and my) favorite restaurants for over 2 decades, dating back to their original location on Sukhumvit Soi 24 and then at earlier location on Soi 36.

They are located on Sukhumvit Soi 36 about 450 meters (a quarter mile) in from Sukhumvit Road. (Note: I think the address found on the web of 19 Sukhumvit Soi 36 is their old location: you need to go further into the soi to reach the restaurant.)

My Choice Interior

My Choice Interior

They serve delectable Thai food in a comfortable, elegant setting. At lunch time the dining area is filled with light. Any dish is liable to be a “wow” experience, where you wish you had more space in your stomach or less people at the table so you could eat more and more of it. In a 2001 review, The Nation called it “one of the city’s better Thai restaurants.”

One of the hallmarks of My Choice comes from the extremely fresh ingredients. I remember one occasion when we came for lunch and ordered the Spicy Grilled Eggplant Salad (something I am always tempted to order here). It took a little longer to arrive than the other dishes; when it came, the eggplant was still hot from the grill. Talk about fresh!

Everything we’ve ever had here has been good. I’d recommend that when you eat here, don’t simply order things that you’re familiar with: use this restaurant to expand your Thai culinary horizons by taking a chance on a dish you’ve never heard of before.

Yum Salads

Eggplant salad

Spicy Grilled Eggplant Salad

One of the things that My Choice does especially well are the type of salads known by the Thai word yum. This type of salad emphasizes sour (from lime juice) and spicy (from Thai chillies, prik kee noo).

Kasma always brings her small-group trips to My Choice, often for two meals during the trips, and she always includes at least one yum salad. My personal favorite is Spicy Eggplant Salad (Yum Makeua Yao) made with roasted eggplant. The long eggplants used in much of Thailand (My Choice, too) are a green variety that roast up with a delicious smokey flavor. (There is a green variety in the U.S. that doesn’t compare.)

If you want to try a different flavor, give the Spicy Crispy Fish Salad (Yum Pla Grob) a try. The smoky fish flavor blends in wonderfully with the hot/sour dressing.

Other favorites are Spicy Winged Bean Salad (Yum Tua Phoo) (smothered in crispy, fried shallots), Spicy Water Mimosa Salad (Yum Pak Krachehd),, Spicy Banana Blossom Salad (Yum Hua Plee) and, for people who like bitter melon, Spicy Bitter Gourd salad (Yum Mara). If you like mackerel, there’s the Spicy Minced Pork Mackerel Salad (Lahb Moo Pla Too) (also available with minced beef or chicken) – this one is actually a “larb” (pronounced “lahb.”)

Curries

Panaeng Beef Curry

Panaeng Beef Curry

My Choice also excels with curry dishes of all kinds. The curry we order most consistently is Panaeng Beef Curry (Kaeng Panaeng Neua), which is a rich, coconut-milk based curry.

At a recent visit we ate two fabulous red curries. The first one was King Prawn in Red Curry with Eggplants (Kaeng Gung Yai Makeua Yao). Wow. I just wanted to eat all the fabulous curry sauce made from fresh coconut milk – it was so rich and flavorful. As a plus, the prawns were whole, head and all. The second dish was a “Choo Chee” (red) curry, listed on the menu as Fried Fish/Shrimp with Curry Paste (Pla/Gung Pad Kreung Choo Chee): also rich and flavorful. You couldn’t go wrong, either, with the Red Curry with Roast Duck (Kaeng Phed Ped Yang).

Chicken Curry

Chicken Curry in Southern Style

The best green curry I’ve ever had was one time at My Choice; and I’ve been eating delicious Thai food that Kasma makes plus at restaurants all over Thailand since 1992. On the menu it is Green Chicken Curry (Kaeng Khiow Wahn Gai); you can also get it with pork or beef. When you taste it, it is immediately obvious that it is made with fresh coconut milk. It is always a wonderful dish, always excellent and typically served with delicious, flakey roti.

Another outstanding curry, this one made without coconut milk, is Chicken Curry In Southern Style (Kaeng Gai Khua Pak Tai) (see above left). Be warned: this dish is spicy! A dry curry, it’s made with Thai eggplants, long beans, often with baby corn, chicken and a very spicy indeed red sauce. If chillies indeed release endorphins, thus improving your mood, this dish can put you into a state of bliss. (For more information on Southern food see Kasma’s article Southern Cooking – Thai Style.)

Other Favorite Dishes

Stir-Fried Ivy Gourd Greens with Pork

I’ll only mention a few of our other favorites, things that we order time and time again, whether or not we are with trip members. The advantage to coming with a group is that we can order more dishes; the disadvantage is that we have to share favorites!

One favorite is Roasted Duck with Gourd Leaves (Ped Ob Tam Leung). It consists of succulent Thai duck (much better than duck that I’ve had in the United States) with a type of gourd leaf all served in a brown sauce. This is a good non-spicy dish to throw into the mix. Thai people usually serve a variety of flavors and spice levels in their meals. We also order Stir-fried Ivy Gourd Greens with Pork (Moo Sap Tam Leung) – photo above right.

Grilled pork neck

Charcoal Grilled Pork’s Neck

We absolutely love the Charcoal Grilled Pork’s Neck (Ka Moo Yang). I always want to eat the whole plate myself.

A new favorite, after a recent lunch, is the Spicy Deep Fried Catfish Fillet Pla Deuk Tod Krob Pad Ped. Spicy from a red curry sauce it is particularly tasty, with lovely, fresh winged beans as part of the mix. As always at My Choice, the flavors were balanced beautifully.

A terrific spicy dish is Stir-Fried Squid in Chili Sauce (Pad Chah Pla Meuk). This is a very spicy dish that receives added flavor from fresh green peppercorns and a root called krachai in Thai (often known as “rhizome” here in the U.S.).

One dish we enjoy – though be warned: it’s not for everyone – is Stir Fried Preserved Egg with Sweet Basil Leaves (Kai Yiow Ma Pad Bai Khaprow). The eggs preserved in a mixture that typically includes clay, ash and salt (with other things) up to several months turning the egg dark, almost black, in color and some people find the taste too strong. We find it delicious.

One-dish Meals

My best recommendation for My Choice is to go with as many friends as you can so you can order a wide variety of dishes. Nonetheless, you may find yourself there alone at a lunch hour and just want something simple. They do have a number of noodle and one-dish rice dishes under the category “Hot Dishes.”

Rice plate

Coconut Rice served with Papaya Salad

We like the Coconut Rice served with Papaya Salad (Khao Man Som Tam) (found under “Recommended”), which comes with a piece of fried chicken. It’s a fun and tasty combination.

Then there are noodle dishes found all over Thailand. They do a very good version of Pad Thai with Shrimp (Pad Thai Gung Sohd) and their Rahd Na, on the menu as Fried Noodle with Pork/Chicken/Shrimp/Fish in Gravy Sauce (Kuay Tiow Rad Na Moo/Gai/Gung/Pla), is good as well. Another favorite is the Black Olive Fried Rice (Kao Pad Nam Liap). If you really like black olives, you can order Stir Fried Black Olive with Pork (Nam Liap Pad Moo Sap) as a separate dish.

Dessert

We recommend you finish up with a nice bowl of ice cream. My favorite is the plain Coconut Ice Cream (Ait Cream Kati), though I also like the Taro Ice Cream (Ait Cream Peuak) and the Lemon Basil Seeds Ice Cream (Ait Cream Med Maeng Lak). These coconut-based ice creams (they appear to be dairy-free) are a good way to cool down a mouth that has just eaten some spicy dishes.

Author eating

The author enjoys a meal

Getting There

Map

Map to My Choice, Click for larger

Sukhumvit Soi 36 (Soi Napasap)
Bangkok, Thailand 10110
Telephone: 02-258-6174
Website: My Choice Facebook page

The restaurant is located about 450 meters (1/4 mile) in on Sukhumvit Soi 36. You can take the skytrain to the Thong Lo stop and walk into Soi 36 but it’s a narrow soi so you may want to have a cab take you into the restaurant.

Further Reading

See also: Black Olive Rice at My Choice Restaurant (blog entry)

Read the article by Bangkok Restaurant Guide, review and food critic – My Choice Restaurant review on Sukhumvit 36 (2008). This review is still accurate about the food; however, it is out-of-date on the atmosphere, which is much more elegant and subdued at this new location.


 

My Choice Slideshow

Click on “Play” below to begin a slideshow.

Clicking on a slide will take you to the next image.


My Choice sign
Map
My Choice Menu
My Choice Interior
Eggplant salad
Crispy Fish Salad
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Water Mimosa Salad
Mackerel Salad
Panaeng Beef Curry
Red Curry with Prawns
Choo Chee Fish
Green Curry
Green Curry
Chicken Curry
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Roast Duck
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Grilled Pork
Spicy catfish dish
Winged beans in dish
Squid dish
Preserved Eggs
Rice plate
Pad Thai
Rahd Nah
Ice Cream
Author eating

My Choice Restaurant Sign

Map to My Choice on Sukhumvit Soi 36

My Choice Menu

The elegant interior of My Choice Restauarnt

Spicy Grilled Eggplant Salad (Yum Makeua Yao)

Spicy Crispy Fish Salad (Yum Pla Grob)

Spicy Winged Bean Salad (Yum Thua Poo)

Spicy Water Mimosa Salad (Yum Pak Krachehd),

Spicy Minced Pork Mackerel Salad (Lahb Moo Pla Too)

Panaeng Beef Curry (Kaeng Panaeng Neua)

King Prawn in Red Curry with Eggplants (Kaeng Gung Yai Makeau Yao)

"Choo Chee" Fried Fish with Curry Paste (Kaeng Pad Kreung Choo Chee)

Green Chicken Curry (Kaeng Khiow Wan Gai)

Green Chicken Curry (Kaeng Khiow Wan Gai)

Chicken Curry in Southern Style (Kaeng Gai Khua Pak Tai)

Massaman Curry with Chicken (Kaeng Massaman Gai)

Stir-Fried Tamleung (Ivy Gourd) Greens with Chopped Pork and Fried Garlic (Moo Sap Tamleung)

Roasted Duck with Gourd Leaves (Ped Ob Tam Leung)

Charcoal Grilled Pork's Neck (Ka Moo Yang)

Charcoal-Grilled Lemon Grass Pork with Chilli Dipping Sauce (Moo Yang Takhrai)

Spicy Deep Fried Catfish Fillet (Pla Deuk Tod Krob Pad Ped)

Winged beans in the Spicy Deep Fried Catfish Fillet (Pla Doog Tawd Krob Pad Ped)

Stir-fried Squid in Chilli Sauce (Pad Cha Pla Meuk)

Stir Fried Preserved Egg with Sweet Basil Leaves (Kai Yiow Ma Pad Bai Khaprow)

Coconut Rice served with Papaya Salad (Khao Man Som Tam)

Pad Thai with Shrimp (Pad Thai Gung Sohd)

Fried Noodle with Chicken in Gravy Sauce (Kuay Tiow Rad Na Gai)

Lemon Basil Seed Ice Cream (Ait Cream Med Maeng Lak)

The author enjoys a meal at My Choice

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Written by Michael Babcock, January 2018

Ko Joi Restaurant – Kanom Jeen Noodles in Krabi

Michael Babcock, Monday, September 1st, 2014

โกจ้อย ขนมจีนไก่ทอด กระบี่
Ko Joi Kanom Jeen Gai Tod Krabi

One of my favorite excursions in Krabi, Thailand, is to go eat a type of noodle called kanom jeen at Ko Joi restaurant in a Nuea Klong just south of Krabi town. It’s a little, somewhat out-of-the way restaurant where they make their own fresh kanom jeen noodles and some absolutely delicious gai tod (fried chicken). Their main sign, in Thai, says โกจ้อย ขนมจีนไก่ทอด กระบี่ – Ko Joi Kanom Jeen Gai Tod Krabi.

(Click pictures to see a larger version.)

Kanom Jeen Namya

Kanom Jeen Namya

Kanom jeen are perhaps the only noodles popular in Thailand that do not come to Thailand via the Chinese. This is ironic as the word for Chinese in Thai sounds very much like jeen – for years I thought that was what the jeen in kanom jeen meant: it’s not.  Kanom jeen is a 100% rice noodle consisting of rice, water and (optional) salt. It is made by first fermenting the dough, then expressing the dough through a cylinder with holes into hot water (for cooking). According to Kasma these noodles are indigenous to SE Asia and originated among the Mon ethnic group, who called them kanawn jin. They are found throughout SE Asia, in NE Thailand, Northern Thailand, Southern Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Burma. The noodles are documented in the Ayuthaya Era (15th to 18th centuries) and may have existed since the 8th to 11th centuries.

We’ve already blogged on a Southern restaurant that serves kanom jeen ( Wang Derm (formerly Krua Nakhon), in Nakhon Si Thammarat). What makes Ko Joi special is that they make the noodles right there and you can watch the process in its entirety. (See slideshow at bottom of page.)

Kanom Jeen Namya

Kanom Jeen Namya

Kanom Jeen Namya

Kanom Jeen Namya

In many places, kanom jeen noodles are used as a rice substitute: you can order green curry or whatever that will be served over the noodles. Here, you have one choice: Kanom Jeen Namya, which Kasma translates as Southern-Style Rice Vermicelli Topped with Spicy Fish Namya Curry Sauce. And it is spicy! Kasma’s recipe, which she teaches in the Weekend Series Advanced Set E-2 calls for 10 large dried red chillies (soaked and chopped) and 40 to 50 dried red chillies (finely ground) pounded into the chilli paste. The dish even without the chillies would have an intense flavor from all the other herbs; the lovely yellow color comes from fresh turmeric.

The dish is served with an assortment of raw and blanched vegetables and various kind of pickles, which can be eaten separately or stirred in and eaten with the noodles, as you can see above right.

Vegetable Platter

Vegetables & Pickles

Greens

Accompanying greens

At nearly every southern restaurant, there’s a platter or two of fresh vegetables and herbs to accompany the meal. At Ko Joi you get two plates: the one above left has two kinds of pickles, cucumbers, long beans and bean sprouts. The one above right has various leaves and herbs, such as Thai Basil.

Marinating chicken

Marinating Chicken

Frying Chicken

Frying the chicken

The other plus for Ko Joi is that they make a fabulous fried chicken (gai tod) to eat with the noodles. Above left you see the chicken marinating in a sauce prior to frying. Above left you see the chicken sizzling away in the oil.

Be warned, though: you may need to stay in line for the chicken piece you want as sometimes there’s a number of people waiting to choose.

Fried Chicken

Fried Chicken

The Meal

A meal at Ko Joi

When you see the photo above left, you can imagine why there’s a line to order the chicken! The chicken is absolutely delicious: crispy fried on the outside and succulent and flavorful on the inside. I find it impossible to eat only one piece!

Above right you see pretty much a complete meal: the vegetable/pickle platter to the right, then the Kanom Jeen Namya with a piece of fried chicken just behind.

Inside Ko Joi

Inside Ko Joi

The inside of the restaurant is nothing fancy: basic tables and plastic stools to sit on. The chicken is simply served on pieces of paper. You don’t come here for the fancy setting!

The one other dish I’ve seen here is a Fish Innard Curry – Kaeng Tai Pla – which is incendiary. The dish has a pretty strong taste and is, in my opinion, an acquired taste. (I’ve not yet acquired it!)

This is a fabulous excursion; plan on going for breakfast and do make sure you watch the noodle making in the back room. For now, check out the slideshow below.

Directions are found below the slideshow.


Slideshow – Making Kanom Jeen

Click on “Play” below to begin a slideshow.

Clicking on a slide will take you to the next image.

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The kanom jeen noodle dough

Kneading the dough

Forming the dough into spheres

Loose dough and one formed sphere

Several dough balls in back, "resting"

Loose kanom jeen noodle dough in a mixer

Kanom jeen noodle dough after mixing

Removing the dough from the mixer

Forming two dough balls

Forming a dough ball

Kanom jeen noodle dough formed into spheres and "resting"

It's hot work to make these noodles!

A dough ball, formed into a cylinder, ready for extruding

"Expressing" the noodles into a wok with boiling water

Close-up of the noodles being expressed into the wok

Beginning to remove the cooked noodles

A basket, held at arm's length, for removing the cooked noodles

Pulling the basket with noodles out of the wok

She is pulling the noodles out of a bowl with cool water

The noodles are formed into skeins

Placing the skeined kanom jeen noodles into a bowl

Several bowls of kanom jeen noodles, ready for serving

This is the namya curry sauce

Here she's packaging a serving of Kanom Jeen Namya "to go"

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Getting There

Ko Joi Sign

Ko Joi sign

Sign Close-up

Sign close-up

Kasma and I got together in 1992 and since then I’ve been to Thailand every year but one, always with Kasma. Yes, indeed, I do know that I’m a lucky man. Traveling with a Thai woman who specializes in finding interesting places to visit and knows so much about Thai food and Thailand is good in one way; in another, I’m not sure how many of the places we visit I could find if I ever did have to travel on my own.

Ko Joi is found in Nuea Klong (North Canal) which is about 17 km south of Krabi town and about 3 km from the airport. It’s directly across from a Chinese shrine and is accessed from left-hand turn onto a small road from the Highway. Your best bet for getting there, is to find a songtao or hire a car and driver in Krabi town and get them to take you there: Kasma says it’s well known in Krabi and people there will know it.

This is a breakfast and lunch place. As far as I can tell, it opens at 6:00 a.m. and closes either at 1:00 or 2:00 p.m.


โกจ้อย ขนมจีนไก่ทอด กระบี่ (Ko Joi Kanom Jeen Gai Tod Krabi)
752/3 หมู่ 2 ต.เหนือคลอง อ.เหนืองคลอง
752 Moo 2, Tambon Nuea Khlong, Amphoe Neaung Khlong
Krabi, Thailand 81130
Phone 075-691145 , 081-8941932
Restaurants coordinates: 8.07165, 98.999717
Google Map of Ko Joi
There’s also a Map to Ko Joi further down on this page. Here’s the original page (in Thai).

Check out the pictures of Ko Joi at Google Images.

Here are some reviews of the restaurant and more photos, and here’s the original page in Thai.


I understand that there is a branch of Ko Joi in Krabi town. We’ve never eaten there, only at the Ko Joi in Nuea Khlong.


See also:

Here’s Information about Kasma’s small-group trips to Thailand.


Written by Michael Babcock, September 2014

Yum Saap Restaurant – A Thai Chain

Michael Babcock, Sunday, June 15th, 2014

Yum Saap – ยำแซ่บ แซ่บครบรส – is a restaurant chain specializing in Northeastern (Isan) food; there are around 50 branches, most located in and around Bangkok but also found as far afield as Chiang Rai and Phuket. On our last visit to Thailand we had a meal at the branch at the Imperial World Shopping Cener in Samut Prakan. Here are my impressions. (note: แซ่บครบรส is translated as “full flavor.”)

(Click images to see larger version.)

Yum Saap Restaurant

Yum Saap Restaurant

I enjoy eating at Thai restaurants of all varieties. It’s fun every once in awhile to try out the food at one of the Thai chain restaurants. Imperial World is a shopping center that is about a 10 minute klong (canal) ride and walk from our townhouse in the neighborhood of Nakhon Thong in the Samrong district of Samut Prakan (found on the edge of Bangkok). The basement of Imperial World houses a food center, which is a popular lunch destination for us, and also many restaurants, including Yum Saap. We decided to give it a try at the end of December last year (2013).

Restaurant Logo

Yum Saap Logo

Coconut Drink

Blended coconut drink

Yum Saap has a whimsical and very noticeable logo, as you can see to the left. It’s a clean restaurant, furnished not unlike chain restaurants in the U.S. (such as Denny’s or IHOP).

One item we ordered was a “Coconut Frostie” – นำ้มะพร้าวปั่น (Nam Maprao Pan), which arrived before the food. It’s a refreshing drink, not overly sweet (as some are).

Eggplant Salad

Country-style Eggplant Salad

Grilled Chicken

Grilled Chicken

As might be expected, their menu had a fair number of ยำ (yum) type salads. The menu had pictures of every item and my eye was immediately caught by Eggplant Salad (Country Style) – พล่าหมูมะเขืออ่อน – (Phla Moo Makeau Awn). I had never seen an eggplant salad made with the Thai eggplants. I wanted to try it. It did not disappoint. It included pork and was spicy and sour, with a bit of sweet. I’m hoping Kasma will duplicate this recipe for a future class! When Kasma likes a dish at a restaurant she’ll write down the ingredients and flavor profile so that when we return home, she can de-construct it and come up with her own version. Quite often, I find her versions better than the originals. Many of these show up in her Advanced Thai Cooking Classes.

Another delicious dish was the Grilled Chicken – ไก่ย่าง (Gai Yang), served with two types of dipping sauces – น้ำจิ้ม (Nam Jim); one sauce was sweet and the other was spicy and a bit sour (made with roasted chillies).

Stir-fried Morning Glory

Stir-fried Morning Glory

Vegetable Stir-fry

Vegetable Stir-fry

We ordered two other dishes. The Stir-fried Morning Glory – ผัดผักบุ้งไฟแดง (Pad Pak Boong Fai Daeng) above left. The 4th dish was Vegetables Stir-fried with Oyster Sauce and Squid. (I’m unable to find this dish listed on their online menu so can’t give you the exact name.)

All in all, the food was quite acceptable. Two of the dishes were very good and others were also good. What impressed me was that the food was authentic Thai food – it did not seem as if any shortcuts were taken. It was spicy and flavorful. I only wish I could get food that tasted as good at the chain restaurants here in the U.S.!


Location

Imperial World Samrong
999 Sukhumvit Road. Samrong Nua,
Muang, Samutprakarn 10270
General Phone : 0-2756-8217-9
Email : olarn_kit@imperialplaza.co.th
Imperial World Website
Imperial World Facebook page
Map of location of Imperial World, Samut Prakan
Bus routes to Imperial World
Google Map: for Imperial World, locate Big C Supercenter in the upper left corner.

Yum Saap Restaurant – ยำแซ่บ แซ่บครบรส
Imperial Samrong Branch – สาขา อิมพีเรียล สำโรง
For address & map – see Imperial World above. Restaurant is found on the basement floor.
Phone: 02-756-9991
Yum Saap Website (be warned, it’s one of those irritating Flash-based sites); the English option does not appear to work so it’s mostly in Thai, though the menu includes English names.
Yum Saap Facebook page
Information Page with list of branches – (Original Thai version
Review of Yum Saap, MBK (A different branch)


Written by Michael Babcock, June 2014

Pongza Restaurant in Bo Klua

Michael Babcock, Thursday, May 15th, 2014

Pongza Restaurant – ร้านอาหารปองซา (Raan Ahaan Pongza) – is found in the town of Bo Klua Tai – บ่อเกลือใต้ – in eastern Nan province in Northern Thailand, about 85 kilometers from Nan city. Here are my impressions from eating at this popular restaurant in a beautiful setting in January 2014. I’ll also talk briefly about the Bo Klua View (Resort) where the restaurant is located. My next blog will be on Bo Klua itself

Pongza Restaurant is located at the Boklua View (Resort) (see below) in the foothills of Doi Phu Kha, nearly 700 meters above sea level. Both restaurant and resort are owned by Toun Upajak, an English speaking Thai who is a trained chef. The restaurant serves a combination of Western and Thai dishes, including local (jungle) specialties. They make their own bread and desserts (western-style) and use produce from their own organic gardens whenever possible. Although the menu is not extensive because of the difficulty in getting ingredients at their remote location, there are still plenty of interesting dishes to choose from.

I’ll start with a couple of the dishes for, after all, the main reason to go to any restaurant is the food.

Fried Chicken

Fried Chicken with Mak Wan

If the restaurant has a “signature dish” it is ไก่ทอดมะแข่วน – Kai Tod Mak Wan – Fried Chicken with Ma-kwaen Herb. มะแข่วน (ma-kwaen or ma kwan) is usually identified as Zanthoxylum Limonella Alston and it is apparently fairly common in Northern Thailand (including Mae Hong Son & Chiang Mai). The genus Zanthoxylum (in English commonly known as prickly ash) includes the more commonly known Sichuan (or Szechuan) pepper. It has an exotic flavor and, like Sichuan peppers, a somewhat numbing effect on the mouth. It adds a very interesting, almost floral, taste to the chicken. It is used medicinally in Thailand to treat toothache, gum disease, nausea, dizziness and certain menstrual problems. Its oil can also be used as a mosquito repellant and has been investigated with some promising results as a possible bactericide for multi-drug resistent bacteria.

If you want more information about this interesting spice, do an Internet search using the Thai name (copy & paste) – มะแขว่น. Nearly all of the articles will be in Thai so you’ll need to hit the “Translate this page” link. There’s a company in Canada – spicetrekkers.com – that sells it under the name of Mah Kwan Wild Pepper;  all-in-all they have over 25 different kinds of pepper.

(Click images to see larger version.)

Fern Salad

Fern Salad

Fried Fern Salad

Fried Fern Salad

The restaurant has a number of dishes with a type of fern growing in the local jungles, called ผักกูด – pak kood. The dish on the left above is Yum Pak Kood Ruam – ยำผักกูดร่วม – a “yum” salad with the fern, ground pork and squid. We had this on our visit this January (2014).

Above right is a Fried Fern Salad – Yum Pak Kood Tod – ยำผักกูดทอด – Kasma had this dish on a visit during December 2012. This particular dish wasn’t on the menu when we visited in 2014.

Green Curry

Green Curry with Crispy Catfish

Limeade

Two blended fruit drinks

On our visit we ordered one other dish, the Green Curry with Crispy Catfish – เขียวหวานปลาดุกกรอบ (Kiow Wan Pla Dook Krob) – shown to the left. It had a lovely presentation, as you can see; however I found the curry itself a bit disappointing. It was ok, just not terrific (which somehow I come to expect in Thailand).

Incidentally, the food here is served with a lovely purple rice (that’s what it’s called, in English, on the menu); it’s a whole grain rice with a couple different varieties cooked together.

The restaurant can be excellent when it comes to presentation, as you saw with the green curry and can see with the two glasses of blended fruit drinks above right, taken by Kasma in December 2012. (When we visited in 2014 the drinks were a bit plainer, probably because the restaurant was absolutely packed.)

Caramel Cream

Caramel Cream

Banana Banoffee

Banana Banoffee

If you are so inclined, Pongza does have some very tasty desserts. Above left is what the menu calls “Caramel Cream” – it looks very much like a delicious Crème Brûlée.

The dessert on the right is called “Banana Banoffee” and looks mildly decadent. Kasma (who took these pictures on the December 2012 trip) said that they were quite tasty.

View #1

A view from the restaurant

View #2

Table with a view

The restaurant is in a lovely physical setting; it is quite pleasant to have a meal next to the mountain views from the dining room. You see a couple of examples above: some of the tables are right at the edge of the deck, giving a memorable dining experience.

If you’re ever in Bo Klua, I recommend eating at Pongza Restaurant. The food is very good  – some dishes excellent, others good –  the presentation is lovely and the views are quite nice indeed. Give it a try.

Check out:

Boklua View (Resort) – บ่อเกลือ วิว

I can’t end the blog without at least mentioning the Boklua View (Resort) where Pongza restaurant is located.

Boklua View

Front of Boklua View (Resort)

Resort View

View from a room

It’s a wonderful, peaceful place to stay. Many of the rooms overlook beautiful views, such as the one above right.

Bedroom

Bedroom at Boklua View

Wash basin

Wash basin

The resort is very nicely appointed, as you can see from this shot of the bedroom above right. There are numerous beautiful and tastefully done details, such as the wash basin above right, and the flowers floating in water (further down the page)  It’s a great place to stay while in Bo Klua.

Boklua View (Resort)
209 Moo 1 Baan Bo Loung
Bua Kluea Tai
Bo Kluea 55220, Thailand
Phone: 081 809 6392 or 054 778 140
Email: admin@bokluaview.com

Also see:

Floating Flowers

Flowers floating in water – another nice touch at Bo Klua View (Resort)


Written by Michael Babcock, May 2014

Vientiane Kitchen Restaurant in Bangkok

Michael Babcock, Friday, February 14th, 2014

Vientiane Kitchen is a popular Laotian restaurant on Sukhumvit Soi 36 in Bangkok. Its popularity is well-deserved. It is the “go-to” restaurant for the farewell feasts for Kasma’s small-group-trips to Thailand: we go for the food and for the entertainment.

Thai Dancers

Thai Dancers

We have often been disappointed by restaurants that the popular English guidebooks recommend – often the food disappoints. Vientiane Kitchen is (usually) one of the exceptions: the food is quite good, most of the time. In addition to the food, they have a lively show every night consisting of a northeastern Thai band with a very talented lead singer. In addition to the northeastern music, with the occasional American or Japanese song, there are also Thai dancers, and a woman singer as well. They’ve been quite good for the past 4 years.

(Click images to see larger version.)

The restaurant is popular with tourists, both western and Japanese, and can get quite crowded. Also, when the entertainment is on, do not expect to have intimate, quiet conversations – it can get very raucous and noisy. Still, it’s good fun if you’re in the right mood.

The Food

We’ve mostly had good luck with the food – we have a number of favorite dishes. The caveat here is that the quality can vary somewhat (different cooks?). Mostly the food is very good; on occasion, we’ve found it a bit off – still acceptable, though.  They do a number of dishes really, really well. Here’s another caveat: I’ve only gone with Kasma, who can order in Thai and impress upon them that we want the same food that the staff would eat – real Thai food. I don’t know if the experience would be different for westerners who can’t speak Thai.

These dishes were all photographed at the final feast for various of Kasma’s small-group tours to Thailand. Typically, she would order 6 or 7 dishes at a time, so she wouldn’t order all of these at one meal.

Fish Dish

Miang Pla

Grilled Pork

Grilled Pork

These are a couple dishes that Kasma often orders to get us started. Above left is Miang Pla – Tidbits with Fish Wrapped in a Leaf. There are a large number of miang – dishes with tidbits – in Thai cuisine; undoubtedly Miang Kam (Tasty Leaf-wrapped Tidbits) is the best known. Miang Pla is sort of like Miang Kam with the addition of fried fish. A wild pepper leaf (bai cha plu) is the leaf of choice; you take a bit of the fish, a little bit of each of the other ingredients, add a dab of sauce and pop the whole thing into your mouth for an explosion of flavors.

To the above right is Grilled Pork with a delicious, fiery dipping sauce. Both of them do a very good job of getting the appetite going.

Fried Pork Leg

Fried Pork Leg

Sour Fish

Sour Fish

Above are two of my very favorite dishes. I could very happily make an entire meal of either of these dishes. To the upper left is Fried Pork Leg – Ka Moo Tod; the pork leg, with skin on, is stewed with spices until tender, then smoked and then crispy fried so that the fat caramelizes. It’s served with a dipping sauce and with pickled ginger. So good.

To the above right is a definite northeastern specialty – Pla Som (Sour Fish). To make this, fish is mixed with garlic, rice and salt and then left to ferment for a few days until nicely sour. It’s then deep-fried and served with crispy-fried garlic. It’s a very tasty dish and must be fried so: they usually do a good job at Vientiane Kitchen. (Check out Kasma’s blog: In Search of the Best Sour Fish (Pla Som).)

Eggplant Salad

Eggplant Salad

Green Papaya Salad

Green Papaya Salad

Kasma always orders the Eggplant Salad (Yum Makeua Yao) shown above left. The eggplant is fried (much like tempura) as a base for the salad – it’s an interesting and delicious variation on the more standard version

To the right is the best-known of the northeastern salads – Green Papaya Salad (Som Tam); it’s hard NOT to order Som Tam at a northeastern restaurant. When I was traveling with Kasma in Isaan (northeastern Thailand), I learned not to order som tam made spicy: in Isan they have a much hotter spice scale than I’m used to and their standard “less-spicy” som tam was still incendiary enough for me!

Thai Soup

Hot-and-Sour Rib Soup

Vegetable Dish

Stir-fried Morning Glory

Above left is a spicy hot Hot-and-Sour Soup made with pork ribs. Very tasty. To the right we see “Red-Flamed” Morning Glory (Pak Boong Fai Daeng), one of the most popular Thai vegetable dishes.

Fried Chicken

Fried Chicken

Rice Salad

Rice Salad

Here are another two good dishes. To the above left is Fried Chicken (Gai Tod) and to the left is a northeastern salad – Crispy Rice and Sour Sausage Salad (Yum Naem Kao Tod).

Entertainment

Thai Musician

Thai musician

Thai Singer

Thai Singer

We do enjoy the entertainment at Vientiane Kitchen, which starts at 7:30 p.m. and is usually over around 10:00 p.m.: they put on a good show. For the last several years there’s been a very talented musician (shown above left playing a xylophone-like Thai instrument) who is also the lead singer of the house band; he’s been backed by a number of other musicians with various instruments, including a guitar-like instrument with 4 strings, probably indigenous to the northeast, and also a bamboo flute that resembles circular Pan pipes. In addition to the traditional northeastern music, they’ll branch out into western and Japanese songs at the audience’s request. There’s also a woman singer, shown above right between two of the dancers.

Thai Dancers

Thai Dancers

Two Dancers

Two Thai Dancers

Here are two pictures of the dancers. In the course of an evening they’ll do several dances, including the bamboo pole dance pictured at the very top of the page. Some of the entertainment is participatory – audience members are invited up on the stage to dance along.


See also:

Location

Vientiane Kitchen
8 Soi Sukhumvit 36, Sukhumvit Rd.,
Khlong Toei Nuea, Watthana,
Bangkok 10110
Phone: 02 258 6171
Vientiane Kitchen Facebook Page


Written by Michael Babcock, February 2014

 

Shanghai Xiao Long Pao Restaurant in Bangkok

Michael Babcock, Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

Shanghai Xiao Long Pao is a restaurant found on the 3rd floor at MBK Center in Bangkok. We first ate here when it was called Shanghai Happiness. Originally we thought the food was excellent but in December 2012 we ate there after the name change and were disappointed. In December 2013 we tried it again and were pleased.

Here’s our previous blog on the restaurant: Shanghai Dumplings in Thailand.

(Click images to see larger version.)

Xiao Long Pao

Xiao Long Pao

Naturally, our main reason for eating here is to get the Shanghai Dumplings – Xiao Long Pao. We were pleasantly surprised by the dumplings this visit. Although I would not put them in the transcendental category, they were quite good. The dough was not too thick, reasonably pleasant looking in appearance and acceptable tasting (if just a bit soggy). The filling itself was quite flavorful. There was some broth that squirted out when we bit into the dumpling, though I would have liked a bit more; one of the dumplings was broken so had no broth at all – it should not have been served. I thought the accompanying dipping sauce, a flavorful combination including black vinegar and chopped ginger, was excellent. All in all, a good Xiao Long Pao – I’d give it 7 on a scale of 1 to 10.

When we first went in May 2011 (see previous blog), the dumplings were excellent. In December 2012, not very good at all. This time, in December 2013, they were again pretty good. I give a caveat  that the quality here seems to vary; hope that you get here on a good day!

I was sorry to see that some of our old favorites were: no longer on the menu, particularly the Pan Fried Ham and Onion Cake, which was quite good.

Braised Pork

Braised Pork

Chinese Kale

Chinese Kale

We very nearly always get a pork belly dish here. This time we got Braised Pork and Bamboo Shoots with Brown Sauce (shown above left). The pork belly is sliced thin (a bit too thin, I think) but it’s all there, including the (yummy) fatty portions. The sauce is tasty and the bamboo shoots are a nice complement.

Kasma was hungry for vegetables so we got the Chinese Kale with Spicy Minced Pork Sauce (shown above right). This may have been my favorite dish: the sauce was very flavorful and just a bit spicy.

Seaweed Rice

Chinese Seaweed Rice

Taro Dessert

Taro in Coconut Milk Dessert

Alas, with just two of us eating, we were unable to order too many dishes. In addition to the 3 above, we ordered a bowl of “Chinese Seaweed Rice” (above left). This is the rice they serve with their “Chicken Rice.” It’s made a bit like a risotto, with plenty of delicious, healthy chicken fat. It’s very good.

We finished up with a dessert, Taro Balls in Coconut Milk (Bua Loi Peuak). A nice, not-too-sweet way to end the meal.


All in all, I hope to eat here again. I’d like to confirm that the Shanghai Dumplings remain good and try a few other dishes on the menu to see how good they are. I would give the restaurant a qualified recommendation at this point, pending further visits.


Restaurant Logo

Restaurant Logo

Restaurant Sign

Restaurant Sign

Look for these two signs on the outside of the restaurant. Also, check out our previous blog for more pictures of the outside as well as some of the inside, which remains unchanged since that original blog.


All of this blog pertains to the Shanghai Xiao Long Pao restaurant at MBK Center at 444 Phayathai Rd., Patumwan, Bangkok. MBK is pretty easy to get to since it’s within walking distance of the National Stadium skytrain station. The restaurant is found on the third floor in the Tokyu zone.


Written by Michael Babcock, January 2014