• Monday, December 18, 2006

    Thai street food and Lonely Planet recommendations....

    At last the weather is starting to feel more wintry. The wife has dug out her woolly jumpers and I'm working on the computer and not sweating profusely. Happy days!

    I mentioned in yesterday's post that the place we stayed at in Ayuthaya offered a very sanitised version of Thai food, adapted to what they think westerners want. This is something that has long annoyed me in Thailand and I've heard it mentioned by others too, so not just a personal gripe.

    Looks nice but didn't taste quite so good, prawn fried rice (for the wife) and veggie spring rolls.

    I've thought for a long time the best place to get Thai food is on the street or in cheap street restaurants. Hotels and expensive restaurants in Thailand charge over the odds for lesser quality fare. Sure it's cleaner but the taste is not nearly as good as the good old street nosh.

    Veggie boat noodle from a street stall - delicious!

    Fried rice on the street, with a good dollop of fish sauce (I'm not vegan yet), is about 25 baht and delicious whereas in a good restaurant you'll be paying at least 60 baht and often over a 100 baht and for something that lacks the soul of its street-side counterpart. Pad Thai is another example. The taste of Pad Thai from a street stall can't be touched by the more costly offerings of hotels and expensive restaurants. I've eaten some of these simple Thai dishes at some of the best restaurants in Bangkok and compared to what you get on the street they are bland and set you back a silly amount of money.

    The exception to the rule is when you want western food or when you're at a beach. I've found a good restaurant or hotel is the best place for foreign food and street vendors on beaches are a good way to get ill. Just personal experience.

    Whilst in Ayuthaya we tried a few Lonely Planet Thailand recommendations. The LP highly recommended a restaurant on Rotchana Road called Moradok-Thai. The place was empty, the service not so good and when the food arrived we found maggots in one of the dishes. I kid you not - maggots! They were in a plate of fried vegetables which all three of us had eaten from and worryingly we also found half a maggot. This is true, not copying any myth or joke. We called the senior waitress who examined the maggots and toddled off. That was it. No apology or explanation - nothing. I wouldn't even mention it if this was a street stall but it was a pricey, by Thai standards, restaurant with a good selection of wines on the menu and dishes starting at 150 baht. Not a good experience.

    Our other Lonely Planet Thailand recommendation turned out equally disastrous. LP is a great guide but I've often found their food suggestions lacking. But then they can't be expected to traipse around all the restaurants in the kingdom and get everything right. Still the best guide book on offer.

    Anyone for insects? Not everything on the street is good.

    The Bangkok Post reports that Taksin's wife, if found guilty of corruption and insider dealing charges, could face a fine of 60,000 baht. Well gee-wizz, that's going to hurt her. Just over US$1000 for the wife of a billionaire. They must be terrified of the outcome! Maybe they'll have to make some cut backs and sell the holiday pad in London.

    Thai street food and Lonely Planet recommendations....



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