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Sunday, December 28, 2003

Bangkok Report V: Yummy Gang Som and icky hotel food

Today is another slow day.

I began the day with a simple lunch at home, of rice and Gang Som (sour coconut-free curry with shrimps). There were also some deep fried Pla Salid (salted fish), which was a traditional side to the Gang Som.

Gang Som, for some reason, is not as well known as it should be. It is a complex and wonderful soup whose predominant tastes are sour and spicy. A paste for Gang Som is not that different from a normal red curry paste, except that Gang Som paste is made only of yellow colored chillies, and that it has some fresh cooked shrimp meat pounded into it as well. The paste is then mixed into some shrimp or fish stock, a variety of vegetables, and more shrimps or fish. Tamarind gives the soup the appropriate sourness. It is actually a great diet food, as it contains a lot of vegetables and almost no fat.

Then I was off to get my nails done and to get a neck massage. The massage was absolutely fabulous, for 150 baht, less than $5!

At dinner, we were supposed to go meet some more family members at the Grand Hyatt Erawan hotel for dinner. Apparently they had all agreed to go to a Japanese restaurant at the hotel. I threw a hissy-fit, and the venue was changed to the Thai place in the same hotel instead.

Though I thought the choice a bit dubious, I much preferred it to the Japanese restaurant. Unfortunately, I couldn't have been more wrong. The restaurant, Ruen Phae, was more than mediocre. The food was horrible, the service marginal, and the price tag exorbitant. We were served oddly sweet Thai food with questionable freshness.

The best thing I ate for the night was a dessert of Bua Loy, little sticky dough balls made of taro and yam pastes cooked to a tapioca-like stickiness, and served floating in a soup of sweet and ever so slightly salty soup. It was bought at my insistance from a street side stall near the Klong Toey Intersection. I had two bowls worth, and went to bed with a full tummy, again.

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