Complex Tastes of Northern Thailand

During our work in Northern Thai province of Chiang Rai last month, we had some time to sample the local delicacies.  Now for those not familiar with Chiang Rai, it is the northen most part of Thailand if I’m not mistaken bordering Laos and Burma commonly known as the Golden Triangle before a high influence on the trade of opium.  Now it’s a great tourist attraction for those who like nature since Chiang Rai is still quite quiet and peaceful.  With being so close to many other countries I think the food is largely influenced as well.  There is quite an Muslim population here which is why many spices not normally seen in Traditional Thai Cooking plays a huge role here.

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The usual laarb or minced por, chicken or beef yam or thai salad is usually, fish sauce, lime, int, roasted rice, shallots, spring onions, thai basil and chillies.  It’s spicy and fresh and sour.  However the Northern Larb is more heavy on the non traditional spices, i think cumin, saltier not sour version.  I feel it’s a more dry and meatier version.  I’m not sure of all the spices but it feels more indianish than thai.

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The Sai Oua or northern thai sausage is not different, the meats and pork fats are chunkier and loosely packed not minced sasages like we are used too.  I’m sure there is cumin or tumeric present in here, chunks of lemongrass, thai basil, chillies and other herbs.  It’s hot, meaty and very very flavorful.  You can taste all the spices, saltiness, porkiness of the entire mouthful.  It’s fantastic served with sticky rice and some side veggies. Not to be missed when travelling there!

Luxury Lunch at Biscotti – Anantara Hotel Bangkok

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Elegant yet homey!

Last month we were invited to dine at the Legendary Anatara Hotel which is located in the heart of Bangkok.  Before it was known as the Four Seasons where i fondly remember having tea with mouse shaped cakes when I was a little girl.  I think they set themselves quite high and the pricing was acceptable in terms of quality, service and taste.  If i remembered correctly it was 790, 890, and 990 baht set lunches.  If you chose the 790 baht you got free flow of the antipasti table which was quite generous with a nice selection of cold cuts, cheeses and other antipasti.

I simply chose the 2 meal course which was 890 baht which included the antipasti buffet and 1 main course from the menu.  If you chose the most expensive one it included a dessert which I expected to be a bit too much for a casual lunch.

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Lovely Olive Oil
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Delicious!

Warm yeasty bread went really well with the peppery olive oil, and one of my favorite dishes is roasted garlic.  The delicate scent of the rosemary came through the smokey and garlicy soft paste.  Really good.

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I’m not sure what this is called but it’s one of their featured  menu, it’s thin pizza bread slices with melty oozy cheese which has been griddles so the pizza dough is wonderfully crispy, hot, cheesy load of goodness.  It’s really really delightful!

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You cannot stop at a slice!

The cheese selection was ok, the presentation was nice with the Parmesan cubes served in the rind but i would have preferred  more cheeses like stilton, goats cheese etc.

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Some cold cuts, hams, salamis, coppa (dried beef) along with other tid bits served on the table.  I didn’t pay much attention as i was quite full with the delicious tortilla cheese extravaganza.

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Small selection but of good quality!
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Decent selection of caprese, roasted peppers and shrimps.

My lamb chop came perfectly medium rare and i ordered some extra black truffles.  It came with generous shaved slices and i loved the flavor, although i preferred the white alba truffles however it wasn’t in season yet.  The earthy aroma and taste went well with the strong lamb and the delicate demi glace sauce.

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I think Biscotti is great for a business lunch or a special party for mummies.  It’s affordable for a bit of luxury on an otherwise a normal day.  Non pretentious food cooked well, attentive service and great ambiance.  Come to lunch!

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Smoked Chicken Breasts and jumbo shrimp!

Biscotti Restaurant

Anantara Hotel

Rachadamri Rd, Bangkok

Homemade Egg Noodles & Fish Balls

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Very Humble Looking Store Front

Located near our new office on Pridi Road, Phrakanong is an old old shop selling clear broth noodles with either morning glory or mung bean spouts.  It doesn’t look appealing probably for caucasians but this shop has been making their own fish balls, wontons and egg noodles for many many years, kind of a fusion between chinese and thai tastes.  It costs about 50 baht for a bowl of noodles, not cheap but rather filling and delicious.

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Where they cook your noodle to order.

As you can see their cooking station, they have all the types of noodles on show in the glass showcase, from “sen lek” thinnish rice noodles, “sen mee” round super thin rice noodles, “sen yai” wide ride noodles and egg noodles or “bamee”.  You choose your noodles and your toppings which comes with a choice of fish balls, Ue Guay which is Fish Paste in a long tube with some spring onions and fried and then sliced, crispy wontons, fried taro sticks in a mound shape, spring rolls and little prawn wontons and shrimp balls.  I’m not a bean sprout fan so i always ask for other green vegetables instead.  In all those bowls of condiments that you see, there are salt, sugar, pepper, garlic oil, spring onions, preserved vegetables, msg (most likely) and the pinkish thing is called Yen Ta Fo which is a fermented bean paste which makes your soup pink and has a sweet beany tofuish taste.

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Shrimp balls, fried taro, spring rolls and shrimp wonton, a rarity nowadays.
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See the fish-balls?  Light chewy delicious no fishy smell!

Again it’s a rarity you can’t find these toppings anymore in Bangkok, I’m sure there are some left but i dont know where they are.  Fish balls are common but all these other toppings are special and must be tasted when you are in Bangkok!

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Egg Noodle Special with Broth on the Side YUM!

It’s easier to see the noodles without the soup or broth on top so we ordered it separately.  The fish balls was delicious, the spring rolls crispy and the moo daeng or red sauced roasted pork has a nice texture to it.  really Yummy, and all for 50 baht or less than 2 USD!

Pridi – Near Gas Station.  You can park at the gas station for 20 baht.

Warming Hot Pot in HongKong

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During our last quick trip to Hong Kong for a passport renewal, we had a quick dinner with relatives and being in Hong Kong it’s a must to have a family get together hotpot meal.  For those not in the know, Hot Pot is a  pot of bubbling stock, where you dip your raw meats and veggies into cook and then eat.  Before we only had plain vegetable broth or pork broth, nowadays there’s curry, satay, ox tail soup, herbs, traditional Ma La or the sezhuan peppercorns super spicy broth, you name it they have it.

This particular hot pot i think it’s either called the Little Fat Cow or smiling Cow i’m not so sure but it’s near the Wan Chai Fire Station on the 3rd floor.  My absolute favorite thing is the octopus meatballs, it comes in a large scoop with fish roe on top you spoon a bit of the mixture and when it starts to float it’s done.  It really is an acquired taste, it’s a chewy rubbery squidy meatball.  It’s not available in Thailand so it’s a treat every time we go back to HK.

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Doesn’t the pork belly look nice? It comes rolled up and looks like a mini flower peaking out of the bowl, and another of my favorites is the fried tofu sheets.  It’s fluffy, light and crispy.  A quick quick dip in the hot bubbling broth and you chew it quick before it gets soggy.

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Normal soft soybean tofu but still good.IMG_1586

I must say given their quite medium high pricing, the shrimp came beautifully cleaned and separated into heads and bodies.  Good for me cause i love shrimp heads.

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Fresh veggies and pork wontons, sometimes wonton comes in a yellow noodle wrap but these ones are more leaning to those gyoza type wrapping like the Japanese kind.

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The highlight of this meal was the splurge on a plate of Angus beef.  It was probably 200 HK dollars but it was melt in the mouth, a real beefy flavor and a great soft chew.  It was delicious!IMG_1579

We also ordered fried chicken joints, nice piping hot, crispy salty and garlicky.  Maybe the savoury taste came from the MSG. – -”

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And again as with all hotpots, we enjoy the meats and veggies and either we pour in rice or a type of noodles to soak up all the yummy broth.  This time we had this really delicious chewy udon.

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So if anyone who can read chinese please let me know what is the shops name.IMG_1594

1st Floor, 141-145 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai Heng Center