Cooking my own Thipsamai branded Pad Thai (Bib Gourmand)

Thipsamai

Thipsamai is a Bangkok institution that serves up pad thai in a huge multi-room sprawling empire in Pratuphee. There is a long queue snaking out the front every single night. The army of chefs work fast though so the line moves relatively quickly. They’ve recently been honored in the Michelin Bib Gourmand listings and I decided to check them out after my visit to Raan Jay Fai.

Thipsamai-Bangkok

I had eaten at Elvis Suki, Raan Jay Fai and Tongue Fun ice cream in the past 3 hours so I was quite full. Fortunately, Thipsamai has a gift shop inside their restaurant that carries complete, ready-to-cook versions of their famous pad thai! Enterprising bastards! I decided to forgo eating there and get some packs to bring home instead. I also bought one of their branded plates and glasses so I could replicate the meal at home. At least, that’s what I told myself but I really wanted souvenirs too.

Pad-Thai

For my first attempt, I armed myself with large prawns (can’t have pad thai without shrimp), roasted peanuts (which I crushed), spring onions, firm tofu, egg and butter. I used the regular green version (the red one has shrimp oil). The packaging said to fry the dry pad thai noodles in oil till soft before mixing the sauce packet with an equal amount of water and pouring it in.

HB-Chopping

I thought it was a bit unusual to fry dehydrated noodles with butter without rehydrating them first but it works!

HB-Cooking

Here’s another photo of me doing domestic things while wearing a stringer that shows off my muscles for your viewing pleasure.

Maha-Nakhon

I paired it with a Maha Nakhon bottled beer I painstakingly brought back from Bangkok. This was the only one that survived. Another Cheers can exploded in mid-air from the air pressure differential and soaked all my packed clothes. The pad thai was decent but I felt like it could be improved.

Pad-Thai-Cooking

Thus, I refined my processes during my second try a week later. I used the red Thipsamai pad thai box with shrimp oil this time. I also bought bean sprouts (which I forgot the first time around) and Thai bird eye chillis. I fried the eggs first in a separate frying pan and made a flat omelet that I sliced into strips before adding it during the final stir. I also cracked in a raw egg to help things bind together.

Pad-Thai-Thipsamai

I threw in half of the bean sprouts, omelet, Thai chilli and spring onions and used the other half as a raw garnish so it remains crunchy. I also had a squeeze of lime and crushed peanuts as a topping. This version is insanely delicious! I love the combination of sweet notes from the peanuts and butter, the salty overtones from the pad thai sauce, the raw elements in the bean sprouts and spring onions, followed by a nice kick from the Thai chillies. I’ll rate it 10/10 if I’m allowed to rate my own cooking.

Thipsamai-Pad-Thai

I respect how Thipsamai pad thai leverages on their success by selling branded food and souvenirs. I’m all about resourceful minds and I enjoy food related souvenirs. That’s the only type of souvenir I buy. I got one of their vintage fridge magnets to put on my fridge and their Thipsamai plate and glass (same as the ones they use in-house) has been one of my favorite crockery for plating. I’ll be sure to revisit when I’m in Bangkok again to see how my own take on their ready-to-cook pad thai compares with the restaurant version.

Certifiably ill Mama noodles @ Jeh O Chula (Bib Gourmand)

Jeh-O-Chula

Bib Gourmand instant noodles? You betcha! This is the immensely famous Jeh O Chula (written in Michelin Guide as Jay Oh) with queues almost as legendary as Raan Jay Fai. I had the misfortune of dropping by without a reservation and the girl there told me it’ll be a 2 hour wait minimum. I had come from the dubious entertainment district Nana Plaza (claiming to be The World’s Largest Adult Playground) where I indulged in 7 beers and the company of questionable women. I also had dinner at Upstairs at Mikkeler prior to that, so I was still quite full.

Jay-Oh

Jeh O Chula is a surprisingly spacious restaurant with a huge kitchen churning out bowls and bowls of Mama noodles. I imagine such a fast-paced kitchen would have harried staff but they’re all really friendly. The ones closest to me posed when they saw me snapping a photo so I took a selfie with them. It’s like an assembly line of instant noodles to feed the appetite of the masses seated outside.

Dirty-Forty-Beer

It seemed inadvisable to order another beer after a huge dinner followed by a drinking session with unfamiliar women at a go go bar. My stomach was almost at capacity and I wondered if I would be able to finish all the food. I decided to try. This is Dirty Forty Amber Ale (160 baht) – a beer brewed in Perth, Australia but conceived in Bangkok. I drank it with delicious, refreshing ice. Don’t judge me bro, it was hot outside and I have been waiting for a long time.

Jeh-O-Mama

This is their famous Mama tom yam instant noodles with seafood. It’s a huge portion with 3-4 packets of Mama noodles inside. Jeh O Chula’s signature dish is tom yam soup and they use their homemade tom yam soup instead of the flavor packets in Mama, which is what makes this so good. There’s tons of prawn and squid and the noodles are crowned with 2 raw eggs, which adds a wonderfully creamy flavor and cools down the noodles.

Mama-Noodles-Bib-Gourmand

I immediately copied this idea for my cheat meals and I’ve been eating instant noodles with raw eggs since. Jeh O Chula has a beautiful tom yam soup base – it’s spicy and sour and hits all the right notes in whetting my appetite. I told the server I can handle very spicy food, Thai spicy, and this one delivered that in spades. It was almost too spicy but I loved it. I loved it so much I scarfed everything down, even though I was dangerously close to puking from the sheer amount of food.

Thai-Sashimi-Salad

I also ordered a side of their wonderful Thai style salmon sashimi. This is like a ceviche or umai – there is an acidic liquid made with lime that cures the salmon. It’s not entirely cured though, most of it is still raw. It sounds simple but the alchemy that goes into the ingredients produces such a delicious bowl of fresh seafood. This dish is out of control! The addition of mint and raw garlic kicks up the flavor by a few notches! I love it! Not to be missed.

Jay-Oh-Bangkok

I was so enamored by everything that I contemplated declaring Jeh O Chula as my top destination this trip. That would be exceedingly unfair to Gaggan and probably the beer talking so I’ll just say it’s the best comfort food I’ve ever had. I highly recommend their awesome Mama tom yam noodles and their insanely good Thai style salmon sashimi. Do note that Jeh O Chula only starts serving their famous Mama noodles after 11 pm. They have standard khao tom (congee) with cooked dishes before that. Visiting Jeh O Chula late at night for supper is something you must do when you’re in Bangkok. I can’t recommend it enough.

Fa-Ying Thai Restaurant by Rama V @ Paradigm Mall

Fa-Ying by Rama V

Fa-Ying is billed as a “modern Thai” restaurant and bar and it’s the casual offshoot of Rama V (which calls itself fine dining). Thus, the official name is Fa-Ying by Rama V. Fa-Ying is located in Paradigm Mall and since we haven’t had Thai food in a long time, we popped over for a meal.

Fa-Ying

Fa-Ying has a compelling set menu for 2 pax for RM 69.90 but we decided to order a la carte so we could choose what we wanted to eat. The place actually looks more like a pub than a restaurant – the large al fresco and bar seating area is too hot for us so we popped inside, which can only seat about 20 or so people.

Fa-Ying Drinks

It’s quite a small place inside, but surprisingly cozy. My dear had their Lemongrass Soda (RM 12) while I opted for the Iced Thai Milk Tea (12).

Deep Fried Squid

Deep-fried Squid Topped with Crispy Garlic (RM 20)
My better half ordered this one and it totally blew us away when it was served. I thought I was eating a very well cooked piece of fish, that’s how flaky and tender the entire thing was. I actually mistook it for another softer seafood! It’s not how I imagined deep fried squid would taste like – this was just dipped into the hot oil for a short while so everything is still soft (but not chewy) and the crispy garlic topping it adds a nice texture to the dish. It tasted clean and inoffensive, very moreish.

Crispy Thai Omelet

Crispy Thai Omelet (RM 14)
There are options for plain (RM 10) and prawn (RM 14) and we went for the latter. The shrimp that comes with this omelet are on the small side (think of the ones you get with char kueh tiaw / pad thai but smaller) but for RM 4, I guess you can’t complain. I like how the high heat of the wok makes the omelet crisp / bubble up in a distinctively Asian way. It’s pretty oily but that’s part of the appeal.

Massaman Chicken Curry

Massaman Curry (RM 19)
There is an option for chicken (RM 19) or beef (RM 22) and since my dear doesn’t eat the latter, we went for the chicken instead. Massaman curry is an extremely delicious curry which I first had during one of my visits to Thailand. It’s made with pineapple juice (!!!) and the massaman curry paste comes from spices that aren’t frequently used in other Thai curries.

Massaman Curry

One interpretation says that it originates from Southern Thailand (where it’s derived from the Malay word for sour – masam) but regardless of how it came by, this was one of the best dishes I’ve had in a long time. The massaman curry was perfect – very flavorful without being overly spicy, and you can taste the slightly acidic elements together with the spot on chicken. Yummy! I love how they serve it on a heat source with flames licking up into the bowl too.

Fa-Ying Us

It was a very good meal and both of us enjoyed the food very much. The lunch at Fa-Ying by Rama V cost us RM 96.28 which is a fraction of what we’ll pay in Rama V. The service at Fa-Ying is passable but not as good as their flagship Rama V. Nevertheless, it’s was a great meal in a more casual setting, which is what Fa-Ying is out to achieve. We’ll definitely be back here again. :)

Thai Boat Noodle Soup in Hat Yai

boat noodle soup

Boat noodle soup is known as guai dtiaw rua (ก๋วยเตี๋ยวเรือ) in Thailand. We happened to chance upon this popular stall during our last day in Hat Yai. This place seems to serve both pork and beef noodles according to the signboard but the cook told us it’s pork noodles.

boat noodle soup hatyai

Better still, the stall makes their own pork rinds! It’s hanging above the stall and these beautiful pork crackling is the product of the deep fried skin of the pork and is meant to be eaten with the noodles. They carry other brands on the table too but their own is the one with the red pig.

Just listen to the pork rind crackling in the boat noodle soup!

boat noodle soup thailand

The name boat noodle soup came from the early days when boats will pull up to the pier and tie off before serving soup to people who would come and eat at the banks. There are still markets like these in Hat Yai e.g. Hat Yai Floating Market but mostly boat noodle soup has become a land based operation.

boat noodle soup locals

You can choose from several kinds of noodles from rice vermicelli to kueh tiaw and we tried two different ones. The serving is really small – probably 2-3 heaped spoonfuls of noodles in total. However, it’s loaded with pieces of pork, meatballs, and pork liver as well as a smattering of vegetables.

thai boat noodle soup

There’s also a side of raw vegetables and bean sprouts as per Thai custom. I’m not sure if it’s THB 35 or THB 40 per bowl coz we didn’t ask but I know the pack of pork crackling is THB 15.

boat noodle soup pork rinds

You’re supposed to add the pork rind into the boat noodle soup before you eat it. The soup base is delicious – they actually put blood into the broth and season it with various herbs and it tastes fabulous. The soup base really has all the five tastes inside – sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami! I was very impressed.

boat noodle soup pork crackling

This is indeed a good find as we saw that the patrons of the stall were almost all locals. They did not seem to charge us a “tourist price” either. The total came up to 110 baht for two bowls of boat noodle soup, a pack of pork rinds and drinks.

The best pork leg rice in Hat Yai

pork leg rice hat yai

I’ve heard a lot of good things about this place. My better half wanted to come here for lunch – she’s been here before and thought it was delicious. We had just arrived in Hat Yai and checked into the hotel before taking a short walk to this place.

khao kha moo hatyai

Braised pork leg with rice is called khao kha moo in Thai. Obviously, my Thai is limited so I don’t actually know the name of the stall but it’s located on Prachatipat Road. It’s very close to Lee Garden Plaza Hotel – turn left after you walk out and it’s two blocks down, at a very conspicuous corner lot that’s always *packed* with customers.

pig in bikini

There’s a really funny life sized cast of a pig dressed in a bikini sitting on her own chair beside the stall. You won’t miss it, it has a way of catching your eye. smirk The meat served here is braised pig’s trotters, one of the best parts of the pig! They only have one cut of meat but that’s a good thing coz they do it so well.

sugarcane juice

It was a hot day and we ordered a big bottle of nam oi (fresh sugarcane juice) to share. It comes in a recycled 640 ml beer bottle and costs 100 baht (RM 10). It’s worth it though, the chilled raw sugarcane juice here is undiluted and comes complete with sediments. I asked for ice cubes so it made it all the more refreshing (and it boosts energy from the sugar too).

thai condiments

You have the choice of a plate of pork leg rice with egg for 60 baht (about RM 6) or platters for two starting from 140 baht, excluding rice. There’s also the option of having the pig trotter meat on top of your rice or served separately – we went for the former.

It didn’t look like much when it came – there were a few slices of choice pork from the trotters, braised pig’s skin, egg, pickled vegetables on top of a plate of rice with the gravy poured over it. However, when I ate the first bite, I was instantly converted. It’s crazy good!

khao kha moo

The Thai style salted vegetables are slightly sweet (unlike our local salty pickled vegetable) and goes very well as an acidic component on the plate. The smattering of fresh coriander (whole stalks, not just the leaves) adds a great dimension of flavor and the star of the show, the braised pork leg is absolutely fabulous – fork tender, melt-in-your-mouth porcine goodness.

I told my dear that I wasn’t very hungry then but I polished off my plate faster than she did! Even the humble braised egg adds a lot to the dish. The khao kha moo here is delicious and everything on the plate belongs there, including the Thai style chilli sauce. I like how they’re generous with the gravy too.

pork leg rice stall

I could eat here everyday and not get sick but since we’re on holiday, I had to limit myself to just that once so we could eat other things. The bill came up to THB 222 for two. I’m thinking fondly of this pig trotter rice now, I would certainly go back again next time we’re in Hat Yai! :)

Rai Leh Rendezvous

railey

How do I even begin to describe this epic adventure?

railey longboat

We just checked into our hotel in Ao Nang and decided to head down to Railey East at about 7 pm since I read that there’s algae there which glows brilliant blue in the night. The bioluminescence is supposed to surround your body in “a million tiny blue lights” so we headed down despite the longboat telling us that we HAD to get back at 8 pm coz that’s when the last boat departs.

railey travel

I reckon we could just pay any longboat operators hanging around to get us back at 12 am. We were going to Wing It ™ in the true spirit of ADVENTURE! =D

The trip to get into the longboat sounded the death toll for my Blackberry. To reach the longboats, you have to wade through waist high water and I wanted to Twitpic everything since I didn’t pay RM 38 for BIS international roaming for nothing. Unfortunately, everything got wet, including my friend’s bag and my Blackberry.

railey beach

That’s okay we’re still going to enjoy the glowing algae! By the time we got there it was nearly dark and we were starving so we ordered food at the incredibly over-commercialized island. There are bars right on the beach and food stalls which were predominantly dominated by Caucasians.

railey food

We jumped into the water after that and went for a swim towards the elusive bioluminecent algae.

It was nowhere to be found.

I don’t know if it’s coz of the rain (we were thoroughly soaked) or the rocky seas but the algae just wasn’t there.

We finally gave up trying and decided to create our own creature instead – The Beast With Two Backs ™.

beast with two backs

Trying to do that while in that weather is nigh impossible. The waves kept pushing us inland, the rocks lying under the beach kept cutting us, and I lost my fucking underwear.

* Watching this video is discouraged – you can’t see jackshit from the darkness

We finally gave up and just went back to the beach. No longboats in sight.

We walked to Railey East. Nope, no longboats either. We walked back to Railey West and a kind dude manning a tattoo place with dreadlocks said we could try taking the employee only longboat back – it departs at 10:30 pm.

railey smoke

* The soaked cigarette is still smokable, just a bit…watered down smirk

However, there was no guarantee that we can actually get on the boat and it doesn’t stop in Ao Nang so we’ll have to take ANOTHER taxi from there.

We walked back to Railey East to play Spot The Longboat Operator ™. I reckon the game would have been fun if we were not thoroughly drenched, with no cell phones (my friend left hers at our hotel in Ao Nang and my BB died a watery death).

rock

* The rock that thwarted our intimacy

I think we must have walked back and forth from Rai Leh East beach and Rai Leh West beach at least 7 times in vain before the same dread locked guy told us that it’ll probably would be easier just to stay here.

diamond cove resort

There are several problems though:

  • I don’t have a cell phone (my BB died in the rain and waist deep water while getting on the longboat)
  • We were both drenched with no towels and no change of clothes
  • I lost my fucking underwear to the tides of Rai Leh
  • My digicam (which is thankfully waterproof) is running very low on battery since it hasn’t been charged since I got here
  • We have to go to Phi Phi Islands the next day
  • I left my medication in Ao Nang FML max

Finally, we were so exhausted, wet and bearing cuts from our attempts to recreate the cocktail Sex On The Beach (or Sex In The Sea rather) that we just decided to stay on Railey. There’s a hotel called Diamond Cave Resort which goes from 2000-3000 baht (RM 200-300) per night but since is low season we managed to get a rate of 500 baht (RM 50) – a tip from the dread locked dude again.

railey strip

Thankfully we had a bottle of vodka with us or else I’ll have withdrawal symptoms from the lack of GABA agonists (clue to what meds I’m taking LEGITIMATELY) – no need for a degree in particle physics for that.

We were a bit concerned about missing the boat to Phi Phi Islands the next day but we woke up super early.

I had wrung my clothes and left them to dry at the balcony but it still wasn’t dry.

It was an adventure indeed – one we dub the Rai Leh Rendezvous.

railey hotel

One thing about hotels in Krabi though – they’re very big on animals as towels. smirk

Greetings from Aonang!

elephants

Sawadeekap! I’m in Ao Nang right now, came here straight from Krabi.

hotel pool

This is our hotel room.

broken elephant

My friend killed the elephant. :(

chillin

Just chillin’ yo.

…with Cheers Beer! You remember the hilarious TVC?

Yes, not a lot of words, but according to my math that’s 3,000 words. Geddit? Pictures says a thousand words? ;)

I’m on vacation. w00t!

Posted: 4:23 pm Thailand (Krabi) time

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