What a coincidence, President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and myself are in Thailand at the same time?! I was honored when the Department of State asked me to show some of our most popular Americans a mouth-watering time in Bangkok. So, after a rigorous day of travel, I worked in a lovely Bangkok food tour between their desired temple seeing and politician mumbo-jumbo. After all, this is what they should be eating, food from the streets, and this is who they should be mingling with, the Thai people. Did I mention this tour package didn't even tip the National Debt?
Hillary, yes, Mrs. Clinton, insisted on taking the photo of Mr. President and I. Not quite sure if he's more memorized by the reclining Buddha at Wat Pho or my amazingly awesome food intuition?
Breakfast, Hua Lamphong, Bangkok
Fresh off the train, I met Obama for a soft oyster omelette breakfast (or suan). A hearty - and juicy, it's loaded with sea water popping bivalve mollusks - breakfast fit for a king, eerr president. Hillary has the hoy thot, a mussel omelette, also nice, both loaded with fish sauce and a spicy condiment dressed as a ketchup bottle. Bean sprouts, parsley and ironically eggs garnish the plate, it's basically a protein heavy seafood feast. An excellent way to jump-start the body's metabolism, and keep hunger pains way way at bay. 35 baht.
Deang Rache Hoy Thot
Soi Sukon 1
Energized, it's off to the old city for some lightening speed sight-seeing.
Meeting Thai Agriculturists and Snacking10am.
We enter the buzz of Nang Leong Market; smells of steaming dumplings, spices, cured fish, fresh fruits fill the scene. We're the only "tourists" or as they may say "farangs." An absolutely authentic Thai experience, and an opportunity to get close to the daily lives of Bangkok's residents.
Shrimp, bean sprouts, baked not fried. Wish I could tell you the name, but I can't. 30 baht.
I can however verify that these were the kind vendors of our meal, who showed true Thai hospitality and spirit.
Nang Leong Market
Wat Sommanat, Pha
No, no, no we weren't in the neighborhood for the ping pong ball shows, you'll have to read other blogs like Adventurous Kate for more on that. This infamous road also houses an incredible version of khao soi, a northern Thai curry with influences from Myanmar (Burma), aside from being delicious, it was a great talking point for Barack's trip the following day, and a chance to brush up on the pronunciation of Aung San Suu Kyi.
70-72 Thanon Patpong 1
Chicken khao soi with noodles at Derby King, Bangkok. 60 baht.
Boat ride down Chao Phraya River
I got Obama and Hillary safely down the river and back to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, where they could freshen-up in preparation for their busy day of meetings. Tour to be continued.
Dinner time. 9pm.
We reconvene on Yaowarat Road for a taste of Thailand's neighbor - China. After all, Obama is concerned with foreign policy.
A specialty in the area, freshly blanched blood cockles shipped daily from the southern coastal areas of Thailand. Served with two dipping sauces; sweet peanut and a spicy chili fish sauce. 100 baht.
"Pa Jin" in the background has been running this stand for over 35 years. Her practice and expertise have not changed - those little babies only cook 8 seconds - although she has introduced her son to the business (seen choosing cockles).
Pa Jin, Cockle Texas
Thanon Padung Dao
The secret service insist we move a little further away from the crowds, so we duck into a smaller alley of Chinatown where we discover an almost lost art of culinary proportions, khanom krok. Coconut milk and rice flour poured over a heated skillet in the shape of tiny half spheres, cooked to be crunchy on the outside and gooey in the middle, plain is sweet, while other varieties include bits of corn or chunks of chives. 12 pieces for 20 baht.
Khanom krok, a Thai delight!
I'm living for these things lately. Khanom krok. Bangkok.
And finally, what presidential visit to Thailand wouldn't be complete without a stop at the Mecca of mango sticky-rice, Sukhumvit 38. Browse this popular street food alleyway for an intimate look into late night dining and a perpetual reminder of Siam. 40 baht.
View of Sukhumvit Soi 38 Night Market from the Thong Lo BTS station.
I wish this picture spoke a thousand words, alas, lighting was tough around midnight. This however, was hands-down the best khao neeo mamuang we tried thus far (and we've been stopping randomly at every market in sight for this treat).
Night Market with Street Food Stalls
Open until 2 am.