Hello everyone! Welcome back to another segment of "Where in the World Wednesday" :) This week we jet off to beautiful Thailand with two tour guides -- my friend Jeff and his lovely girlfriend Nim. Jeff and I have been friends since high school and since high school, his life has taken him all around the world -- he's lived in Taipei, Newport Beach (CA), Houston (TX), and the Baltimore/Washington area. Nim was born in the northern Thai city, Nan, and she has lived in the southern Thai city, Songkhla, as well as Atlanta and Bangkok. Nim and Jeff currently live in Hwai Khwang, Bangkok, Thailand. Thanks to Jeff and Nim for taking part in Where in the World Wednesday!
(1) How would you describe the food in Thailand in 10 words or less?
Concentrated & Intense Flavor, Spicy.
(2) Are there any dishes that you think are traditionally Thai?
(3) Do you find that food in Thailand has been greatly influenced by certain ethnicities/religions? If so, which ones?
(4) Have you found that different regions of Thailand have different types of food? If so, which would be your favorite region?
We will group these three questions together, and start by answering #4. There are four distinct regions in Thailand - North, Northeast, Central, and South. They each have their own unique tastes. For example, the food in/from the South is ridiculously spicy.
There are many religions/ethnicities in Thailand. There is a strong Muslim influence (kebabs, hookah), Indian influence (tons of curry), Chinese (typical), and Japanese (businessman).
Traditional Thai dishes include: Tom Yum Kung (Soup - Lemongrass, Herbs, Shrimp), Sweet Mango & Sticky Rice (Dessert), Som Tam (Papaya Salad)
(5) If you were bringing back a food gift basket representative of Thailand for a friend, what would you include in it? (Feel free to include perishable items!)
Nim says that she would include...Raw AND Ripe Mangoes, Mangosteen, Lychee, and Durian.
I would bring... Kao Niew Gai Tohd (Sticky Rice with Fried Chicken), Kao Meng Gai (White Rice with Boiled Chicken), Ba Mi Giao Nam (Yellow Noodles with Roasted Red Pork + Dumplings in Soup)
(6) If I were to visit you, where would we go for breakfast? For late-night eats?
Thais don't really eat breakfast, so to speak, or as we envision what breakfast ought to be. They often have Thai Iced Tea/Iced Chocolate/Iced Coffee + simple fried street food for breakfast. Some people eat Grilled Meat + Sticky Rice, some people eat noodles, some eat nothing. Cereal is an expensive commodity here.
There are tons of 24-hour/late night places to eat. However, I am old, and I go to bed at 10. Most of them are street food though - anything you can think of, I'm sure there is a street vendor for it.
(7) Where would you take me on a food-related outing?
It depends on what kind of place you want to go... For example, if you wanted to do something with a Chinese influence, we would go to YaoWaRat - China Town. If you wanted to do something "Hi-So" (bourgeoisie), we would go to Siam Paragon (Think Tyson's Corner but even more expensive, Thong Lor (Little Tokyo), and anywhere on Sukhumvit Road (Main road in the business district). There are tons of great places to eat, depending on how you want it, and how local of tastes you want it.
(8) Was there anything that particularly surprised you about the food in Thailand?
At first, I hated Thai Food. I kept asking myself, with its obvious Chinese link, what happened to the Chinese Food? Thai food has its own tangy, spicy flavor, which Chinese food does not have. However, I've thrown myself into this culture, and am absolutely loving the cuisine. The challenge is in the Spicy food. With Japanese Wasabi, you breathe out to alleviate the pains. With Thai Spices, you soak it and you take it like a man. It is a great challenge to absorb the invigorating sensation that burns the insides of your body. It is actually a wonderful feeling. In fact, chillies and peppers have tons of Vitamin C.
(10) What is your favorite “local” restaurant and why?
I wouldn't call it a restaurant, so to speak; however, it is a storefront. It is family owned, and is extremely old and dirty on the inside. They serve two dishes: Ba Mi Giao Nam (as stated above) and Kao Moo Daeng (Rice with Roasted Red Pork + Boiled Egg + Special Sauce). The special sauce for the rice dish is very sweet and tasty.
(11) What has been your most memorable food experience in Thailand?
There are two. 1) When Nim and I were in Nan, along with two of our other friends, we went to this "local" restaurant, which was a Shrimp Farm. We ate our guts out, full of fresh, grilled shrimp. There should be pictures on my facebook. 2) When Nim and I went to Phuket for a short vacation, and to see her friend from middle school, they took us to a "local" seafood restaurant on the beach. We had 10 dishes of fresh, famous seafood, and the cost came out to be less than $40 for 5 people. The taste was fantastic.