The other day I plugged my destination into Google Maps, as I am wont to do (no joke: Google Maps single-handedly makes this trip possible, because my navigation skills are nonexistent). The public transit directions seemed to indicate that I take a boat, which seemed odd, but I went with it.
The directions brought me to a rickety old dock next to a narrow river. After a couple of minutes, boat showed up, pulled over to the side of the dock for about ten seconds, then left again.
About five minutes later, another boat pulled up; this time I got on. There’s no plank — you just jump on, and then someone comes around to collect your fare.
It was an odd experience, especially since the boat goes fast.
I felt pretty woozy by the time I got to my destination, but it was such a memorable way to get there that I didn’t even mind.
Here’s a very pleasant surprise, and something I hadn’t even heard of until I came to Bangkok: khanom bueang, a Thai dessert that consists of thin, crispy pancakes with a generous spread of a creamy Italian-meringue-like substance, along with other fillings (the one I tried had egg yolk threads, though coconut was also an option).
This was really, really good. It probably helped that they were made fresh at this booth in the food court in the Terminal 21 mall (the food courts here are so much better than the food courts back home, it’s ridiculous).
The pancakes were crispy and fresh, and were kind of like a cross between a crepe and a cookie. The creamy meringue worked perfectly with the crispy pancake, and though the egg yolk threads didn’t add much (they were just kind of chewy and tasteless), they didn’t detract, either.
I got an order of 10 of them, and I figured I’d eat a few right away and then save the rest for later. But of course they all wound up in my belly immediately, which I probably should have predicted. I’m not really a “save delicious food for later” kind of guy.
Funnily enough, one of the best things I’ve eaten in Bangkok isn’t Thai at all — it’s Chinese, from a Michelin-rated restaurant in Bangkok’s Chinatown called Nai-Ek Roll Noodles.
As you’d expect from a place that’s cheap and Michelin-approved, it’s quite busy. But the line moves fast, so within ten minutes or so, I was in.
The menu is fairly extensive, but “Roll Noodles” is right there in the name. I got a bowl of noodle soup that came with minced pork, sliced pork, and crispy pork belly, along with some organs — stomach, liver, kidney, and tongue (plus, they don’t mention it in the menu, but there were also intestines in there; it was quite the cornucopia of pig innards).
It was really, really good. The soup had a bit of a kick, with a nice peppery flavour. And the noodles were kind of like a Chinese version of penne pasta.
Plus, the pork belly managed to stay crispy even in the soup, and all of the various organs were prepared perfectly — no off flavours here at all.
Yep, another country, another visit to McDonald’s. Let’s do this.
First up: the McD Patongko. This is just a tube-shaped piece of fried bread. I had something similar to this (called a youtiao) from a street vendor in China. Though that version was actually quite good on its own, this one seemed like it would have been much improved with a dipping sauce of some sort. It was very plain. But it was fine, I guess?
Next: the Bacon & Pepper Chicken Cheesy Egg Bun. I quite liked this one; it’s basically a cheesy omelette sandwich with a fried chicken patty and some bacon. The fried chicken patty wasn’t great, but the omelette was satisfyingly cheesy and gooey, and the bacon was above average. I want a cheesy omelette in every burger I have from McDonald’s from now on. I’m going to need someone to make that happen.
I saw a bunch of people in the restaurant eating the Big Spicy Fried Chicken, so I figured I should probably try that too. It certainly earns the “Big” part of its name — it was an absolutely massive piece of fried chicken consisting of a thigh with some white meat attached. It was extremely Popeyes-esque, with an aggressively crunchy outer layer. But it was barely spicy at all, sadly.
For dessert, I tried the Corn Pie, because how can you not try something called a corn pie? It wasn’t great. It was crispy and fried, at least, but the filling was basically just corn-flavoured glop. There were also a bunch of pieces of corn in there.
I also got the Jelly Trio Chocolate, which is a chocolate sundae with strawberry jelly at the bottom. This was way better than I was expecting; the jelly was on the chewier side, and it paired surprisingly well with the ice cream and the sauce. Berries and chocolate is a pretty classic combination, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised it works as well as it does.
Though a lot of the food I’ve been eating in Bangkok has been a bit underwhelming, there’s definitely been some good stuff, too. Such as: this amazing chicken satay I had from a place called Jay Eng.
Everything about it was just right: it was super tender, the marinade was really tasty, and it had a nice smoky flavour from the grill. And that peanut sauce? Bananas. It was like a nuclear bomb of flavour. Perfection.
I’d say it’s the best chicken satay I’ve ever had, but then I had some pretty amazing ones in Singapore a couple of years ago; I’d have to try them side-by-side to know which was better.