Bangrak Food Tour, Day 1

7 Oct

When I took the cooking class in Siem Reap, I met a lady who had just traveled from Thailand. She highly recommended taking a food tour in Bangkok. Well, I am backpacking and I am naturally a cheapass. Plus, sometimes the whole obvious tourist group walking around is embarrassing to me. And the final kicker? I looked up the cost and it was about $35/person. That’s 70 bucks for us to sample food! I decided to kick that idea to the curb and I created our very own personalized food tour.

First, I just did general research of “what to eat” in Bangkok — and realized that we had tried a lot of those foods already in our travels in Thailand. Then, I looked at the food tour itinerary — they won’t tell you exactly where you’ll be going, but they mentioned a few “highlight” dishes and the general area they are going in. Luckily, the hotel we were staying at was within a (long) walking distance to Bangrak. This is a more historical part of town because many of the vendors/restaurants have been around for  a long time. There are also markets and shopping around. I saw very few obvious tourists in this area.

Because we had dinner reservations to celebrate our last night of vacation at 8pm, I decided to split our food tour in two parts. Half of it today, half of it the next morning before we had to catch our flight. It worked perfectly.

First stop? Volcanic fried mussels & oysters.

From what I read, this place is named “volanic” because its origins were on the streets and a large fire erupted (almost volcanically 😉 ) whenever this meal was being cooked up. Due to its popularity, it has moved inside a “restaurant.” I put this in quotes because whenever I say restaurant here, all that it really means is a tiny storefront with a few plastic chairs and tables. We aren’t talking anything like Olive Garden set up.

I am not a huge mussel or oyster fan. Their little “sacks” or whatever pretty much disgust me. But when in Rome…

The pancake is like an egg/pancake batter with fried mussels inside and then it is topped with fresh oysters and sweet chili sauce. If you love shellfish and Asian flavors, this might be your dish. As not a lover of either mussels or oysters, it was good, but not a re-order dish for me. The mussels were actually quite small and the texture was good and not sandy. I could probably eat that part again. Oysters, while fresh tasting and literally burst in your mouth, are just not my thing. Emilio likes oysters with tapito and lime, but even these were a bit much for him because they just sat on top of the pancake. And it was a bit overpriced, in my opinion, at 70 baht.

But still – food tour continues! Next stop? Duck.

This spot was a bit harder to find. The restaurant was called Prachak Pet Yang. It was not necessarily obvious that it was a restaurant, because from the street, it looked like a butcher of duck meat only. The menu had the tiniest bit of English writing — but enough for me to know what I wanted to order at this place — roasted duck over rice with some special sauce.

This was pretty delicious. Duck is a very sweet meat (this was only the second time I have had it) and the sauce was sweet also. Personally, I could used some heat but the flavors didn’t seem as though they would mesh with the chilies in fish sauce or chiles in vinegar that are condiments at each table. 70 baht for this meal also.

And then we stopped for a refreshing drink, or at least, that is what I expected it to be. I read about these Chinese herbal teas that we needed to try because they were simultaneously good for you and good tasting. They may have been good for you, but they were not good tasting. I forgot to take a picture. But because we couldn’t communicate with the vendors, we ordered blind. The boyfriend got a green one and it tasted like grass and hay. I got a dark red one that I thought would be like a fruit juice, but it only attempted to taste like fruit juice. A little disappointing, but hey, I think we got our vitamins.

Last stop – dessert. Now, we had seen lots of grilled bananas along the way in all three countries. But I read that these fried bananas were a must. Finding this place was easy — the cart had a long line of locals waiting for their fried goodness and that’s always a good sign to me. We stepped right in line to await our turn.

These were exactly what you expect them to be — they tasted like a fried banana, but they woman who cooked them threw in nuts and some kind of coating on the bananas that almost tasted like caramelized peanut brittle that coated the bananas. And for 20 baht — that’s a good dessert!

Overall, the food tour was quite fun. We got to walk around a busy little area and try some new food. The best part? For day 1, we spent roughly $6 (that’s waaay less than $70)!

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