Friday, August 22, 2008

Food by the Sea, Nakhon Pathom, Thailand

After the floating market, we were driven to a local beach which had an array of street stalls serving some pretty nice bites. I'm a big fan of street food and this was definitely up my alley.

Amongst the myriad selections of seafood, some uncommon ones stood out, such as these horse-shoe crabs, where apparently, only the roe is savored.

The ubiquitous drinks stall which serves the creamiest, tastiest iced milk tea.

Now this was the ultimate fake-out. Any Singaporean or Malaysian will know what comes to mind when we see these. It has to be otak right? The spicy coconut- milk-based fish paste which is so tasty when grilled over charcoal.

Turned out it was some sweet sticky rice thingy! I felt like such a fool when I took my first bite.

Grilled scallops by the street are always welcome.

With a dash of salt and some butter and spices, these tasted great.

A whole pot of piping hot steamed cakes. Somehow, I don't know if it was psychological but wrapping the cakes in these leaves gave them a noticeable fragrance over the ones we have in Singapore which are just baked in containers.

After snacking on all the street food, it was time for lunch. The advertising system here is rather unique. All these mascots are dressed (actually it's pretty much only their headgear) as sea creatures and they dance and prance around by the road to entice you to try out their fare.

We settled for this fish dude's restaurant. We were in the mood for some fish this lunch and I guess there is no other method to ascertain a restaurant's standard of fish except from their mascot. Come on, I mean look at him, he's a fish dude!

A pretty much vegetarian salad of onions, raw papaya and cashew nuts was the first dish. A nice, tangy appetizer to kick start our feast.

Next up was a seafood vermicelli salad. This was unassumingly spicy, but still tasty. The lime dressing on the seafood really reminded me of some good ceviche I had not too long ago.

Stir-fried shelled razor clams with green peppers and basil. Absolutely loved this. I'm beginning to be quite a big fan of all the varieties of basil and the sweet flesh of the clam sure complemented the fragrance of the Thai basil.

Next up were some boiled sea slugs which we ate with a chili dipping sauce. Fresh and naturally sweet but it was in the end quite spartan in flavor really.

Boiled squid in a tom yam broth. Crunchy, succulent squid in a delicious savory, spicy and slightly sour tom yam stock. What more can one ask for?

Perhaps some freshly fried fish. Funny how despite this fish being so fresh (like live), our host opted to fry it instead of steaming (the almost mandatory method to "appreciate" the freshness of fish haha). But hey, some people may argue that one can get away with bad fish by deep frying it, yeah maybe if we're talking about fish fingers but even though this was deep-fried, the oil was so intense that within the crisp exterior was fresh sweet flesh which pretty much "steamed" in its own juices.

Last but not least was a hotpot of fresh water river eel. The soup was good and the eel was suprisingly delightfully fatty. The only bummer was the life-threatening number of fine bones which made eating this quite a dangerous task. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the eel and felt so gangster living life on the edge.


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Floating Market, Damnoen Saduak, Nakhon Pathom, Thailand

There are quite a few floating markets around Thailand but apparently the one at Nakhon Pathom is one of the better ones. I thought it was rather touristy to embark on this little excursion but I heard that even some of the locals frequent this floating market, giving it a little more credibility.

After we parked our vehicle, we took a short walk to the canal where it begins and was greeted by a variety of little boats selling food.

And many other little boats selling deliciously ripe-looking fruit.

The first food boat we stopped by was this little one selling this savory dessert of sorts. I know that sounded weird but this stuff known as "sak koo" has coconut, sugar and chili in it making it really neither here nor there in the confines of dining courses. Apparently, it's an appetizer.

Here's a heap of that sweet coconut with peanuts and chili thingy which is a major component of sak koo.

A variant of it comes with thin rice paper rolls filled with more of that sweet coconut and served with chili and fried shallots. When I first saw this, I was hoping it would taste like banh cuon, er because it looked like banh cuon, but unfortunately, the sweet, spicy, salty flavor was really a taste I could not appreciate.

We stopped by this little shop which processes coconut sugar. The coconut nectar is harvested and boiled under charcoal to form solid coconut sugar.

When it's half-way to the end product, it may be served in the form of this diabetes-inducing beverage. Much as I appreciate the flavors of raw sugar, this was like a big sugar anvil crushing down on me. Pretty sweet, no doubt.

Boil it long enough and it'll thicken and caramelize until it hits a thick brown gooey consistency which is then placed on waxed paper in little blobs (resembling? Let's not go there haha) to cool and solidify.

The sugar is then packaged and sold here for about 35baht (1usd) a kilogram.

Desperately craving something savory at this point in my life, we headed to this boat selling noodles.

A decent soup noodle with barbecued pork slices, fish balls and a good dash of salt and pepper. This was just what I needed.

This stuff was so good, we ordered another version of it which was spicier and redder.

Even though I knew I had enough sugar for the day, just before we were leaving, our host suggested we try the white coconut dessert "kanom twai".

This stuff was actually pretty tasty. For starters, it wasn't too sweet and the rich taste of fresh coconut milk is always nice. Not too bad at all.

Touring the floating market was pretty enjoyable. It's abit like taking the "It's a Small World" ride in Disneyland except without the annoying music and a lot more food.

Oh and did I mention they have alot of fruit?


Saturday, August 09, 2008

DBS is 2 Years Old!

Wow! DBS (i.e. Dancing Blue Seal not Development Bank of Singapore) has turned two. Spanning two years over three main countries, so far I think it has been a pretty good run. I know my posts aren't as regular as they used to be, it's not that I've gotten less interested in this but just the constraints in time of my "new" life in the States. I remembered when I first started; posting on almost a daily basis, with shoddy pictures as well haha.

Just some interesting facts about DBS:

A. Why DBS? What does it really mean?
I will take this secret to my grave!! (Cue super evil laughter here, as evil as skeletor from the old He-Man cartoons)

B. Who visits DBS? Where do you guys come from?
The Top 10 countries are:
1. Singapore
2. United States of America
3. Australia
No surprise that the top three countries represent the countries that I spent most of my time in.

4. United Kingdom
5. Malaysia
6. Canada
Interesting how the UK got fourth place, considering the fact that I've not been to the UK or even Europe for awhile now.

7. Indonesia
8. Brunei
9. Japan
10. Thailand

C. Who are DBS' Top Referrers?
In general, DBS gets most of her visits and hits from direct traffic (noone's linking haha) but here goes:
2. (not really active anymore)
4. mykitchenmylaboratory (not really active anymore)
Funny how two of my top four referrers are inactive sites, I guess the golden age of DBS has come to pass as well?

9. (how does one refer oneself???)

D. What keywords are used in a search that led to DBS?
1. dancingblueseal (duh!)
2. popeye's chicken singapore - er.. I mean there's kind of like only one?
3. Adam Road - Teh halia and fried chicken wings... man.. I do miss my 5am morning runs in Singapore which would end up with this haha, afterall, why waste all that exercise?
4. Kazu Yakitori Cuppage Centre
5. Nanjya Monjya
Although people love Japanese food, a fast food chain still edged them out to be on top haha.

6. Jang Shou Korean
7. che chuoi
8. Nam Sing Bangkok
9. Sin Kee Chicken Rice
10. Menotti
Besides Popeye's, Menotti was the only other non-Asian joint on the top 10 keyword searches, even moreso, that I don't even have a post on Menotti! I do have their sister Riccioti though.

E. Last but not least, a random one for the techgeeks, which browsers are used most often to view DBS?
1. Internet Explorer - 57.28% (Why do people still use IE??? Oh.. it came with the OS... silly me)
2. Mozilla/Firefox - 35.23% (go Mozilla!!)
3. Safari - 4.89% (Steve Jobs would not be too pleased)
Interestingly, I've even had a visit from a handful of people using a "Playstation Portable" browser.

So, DBS, the weblog about food, eating, cooking plus the occasional (ultra) sunset is still about the same thing pretty much. I hope, you guys have enjoyed reading this stuff as much as I have writing it. Let's hope the blue seal will continue to dance for many more years to come.


Monday, August 04, 2008

Bang Wa Pig Leg Restaurant, Nakhon Pathom, Thailand

I have visited Thailand many times but often my stays were limited to Bangkok (which has tons of great tasting food in her own right!). This time round, I found myself in Nakhon Pathom, a little historic city (perhaps the oldest in Thailand) about an hour's drive North, away from the hustle of Bangkok. So what was I doing in Thailand this time round? A very good mate of mine recently got hitched to a wonderful Thai lady and they were having their ceremonial wedding in her home city. The newly acquired father-in-law brought us to Bang Wa Pig Leg Restaurant for a hearty breakfast of braised pig leg. How good is this place? Apparently it won the annual Thailand Braised Pig Leg Competition! Whoa, how's that for a real sport?

Who said open style concept kitchens have to be restricted to upmarket wannabe restaurants?

We started with some herbal soup; each with a whole maryland duck leg in it. This was pretty tasty, especially the use of some preserved vegetable which gave it a nice tang but I was here for something porcine and couldn't wait to get some.

The next soup was definitely something more like it. A savory soup of mixed pig organs and innards. The heart in particular was deliciously firm and crunchy.

The star of the show; braised pig leg cooked to tender perfection. The meat was still firm and succulent enough for a good bite whilst the skin tender and soft for a the perfect contrast in texture. This was definitely good stuff. A special mention for the preserved vegetables served with it which were fragrant and tasty without being too salty.

Pig trotters were up next. Not much meat on these but the skin and cartilaginous bits were a nice chew.

We also had a sideplate of hardboiled egs which weren't really braised in the sauce but soaked in it (more like cold braising). A generous amount of the braising sauce was doused in it making this a simple but yet utterly delicious dish.

Cold iced Thai tea to end off a hearty meal to start the day. I know this little getaway is going to be good.