Friday, April 18, 2008

Food Experiments

Spinach artichoke dip

Pochero, complete with ham bones

Seafood cake with Pumpkin Pine Nut Risotto. Lacks a green garnish.

What I'm Loving in HK

Pineapple buns and other "panaderia" goodies

Fluffy omelet and crunchy buttered roll for breakfast from a very local place

Colors of the market: the oranges, pinks, greys of various fish, the depth of green of leafy vegetables, the rainbow colors of fruits in season, the reds, browns and yellows of roasting meat and fowl hanging from hooks

Stinky tofu

Dried seafood

More dried seafood, with dried kumquat (the roundish green thing) that people use in soups for its medicinal properties

Starfish! Wonder what they use this for...

Streetfood: skewered everything

Cuttlefish! Deep-fried and sprinkled with pepper salt. I prefer mine plain and swimming in vinegar.

Deep-fried vegetables, some with fish paste (made of dace)

Fresh fruit shakes/juice. No sugar or ice added! This is one of the nicer-looking fruit stands, by the way. I usually get my fruit fix from a hidden sidewalk vendor who uses maybe 2 blenders and 1 juicer of dubious hygiene for many different types of fruits.

Waffle. Who doesn't love the egg-y smell of this childhood favorite?

More to come...

Phuket Trip

Headache-inducing sunshine greeted us upon arrival in Phuket 1st week of April. Blasted heat and sticky armpits aside, we enjoyed our stay at the Sheraton Laguna, although I must say the very famous Ruen Thai restaurant at the Dusit was only average for me, while the meal we had at Sheraton's Chao Lay Thai Restaurant was superb. And the best eating places? In Patong Beach, where everything was cheap! in-your-face (or should I say in-your-mouth) fresh! delicious!

Who can go wrong with ordering mango with sticky rice for dessert?

Yep, we had Western food. And the burger and seafood pasta were surprisingly good. Little boy ignored his kid's menu bolognese and went for the more expensive, chock-full of seafood pasta dish of the adults. Notice the modern, zen-ish plates? Phuket has lots of handmade stainless steel stores, and I got myself a whole flatware set woohoo!

At a famous seafood restaurant in Patong, we ordered pad thai (a bit too dry but when I added more lime juice it sprang to life), sauteed morning glory which hubby LOVESLOVESLOVES, I suspect the oyster sauce they use is different and the chilies are charred), grilled red snapper fillet (oh my what a revelation, fork-tender, very very tasty without being salty, sensual in its simplicity).

The shrimp in red curry was spicy and went so well with steamed rice. Boy that was a satisfying dinner. And the day before at this hole-in-the-wall in Patong we had the spiciest tom yum ever (it made me cough so often, and I am a chili lover), the spiciest chicken in green curry and again, sauteed morning glory. I was even afraid to venture in at first because they served Western food too and I hate places that try to serve anything and everything, but I had to swallow my trepidation and admit that these eateries around Patong have to serve Western food for the non-adventurous, but their Thai cuisine is still as genuine as ever.

In Patong I saw all sorts of hawkers selling noodles in soup, grilled chicken or fish with the charcoal grill hanging from the vendor's neck, in the street facing a wet market were tables with "add-all-you-can" beansprouts, Thai basil, fresh chili and fish sauce for hungry locals, and of course the fresh fruit stands were everywhere!

Mango shake at one of the many Thai restos we went to.

Phuket has so many Italian and Indian restaurants it was unbelievable! At the Sheraton's Puccini, where we ate twice, I had this gigantic salad the first time, and was so happy with the generosity of the serving. Loved the asparagus, sun-dried tomato, artichokes, wispy flakes of Parmesan, feta cheese, kalamata olives, cherry tomatoes and fresh greens served on a huge, lopsided white bowl. Hubby had the 4-cheese pizza. The crust was crunchy and light at the same time, the interior full of airy goodness. Our next try we had the prosciutto pizza and seafood risotto, both a joy to eat.

At Puccini they try not to starve you so they serve assorted bread in this conical implement along with various dips like pesto, tomato and basil, beetroot, sundried tomato pesto and butter.

I could finish off a whole warm ciabatta loaf, diet be damned!

Little boy was so hungry he took first dibs at the crunchy flatbread!

We ordered this catfish dish at Ruen Thai and immediately regretted it. It was so sweet and caramelized it tasted like dessert! The yellow balls are salted egg yolks. We also ordered beef massaman curry with peanuts and the beef was so tender and the sauce so rich and tasty we decided to forgive the cloying sweetness of the fish. We expected more from this restaurant boasting "Royal Thai Cuisine" though. After this experience we would always ask whether a main dish was sweet or spicy. One should learn from one's mistakes.

This is a famous soup, next to tom yum. It's chicken with coconut milk and galangal. It was very refreshing.

Fried morning glory salad made up our appetizer for the evening. It was average.

At Ruen Thai, the place settings are quite elegant and the accordion-like menu not very extensive.

The omelet for breakfast at the hotel was more scrambled egg whose sides were cooked and shaped into this submarine-like thing. I slathered catsup all over. Not the way I would cook my omelet, which I like fluffy and filled with all manner of vegetables and meat and gooey cheese, but with some toasted rye bread it made for a filling meal.

Other memorable meals with no pictures:
For Little Boy's birthday dinner at Chao Lay we had a lime-based shrimp broth, roasted duck curry with grapes, lychee, eggplants and fresh green peppercorns (the best dish I had in Thailand), sauteed morning glory, fried seafood salad with crabs, prawns and squid.

We also tried this place outside the Laguna gates. We had tom yum, fried rice with prawns, sauteed morning glory (yes, we had it in practically ALL of our meals) crab in red curry sauce, and tons of rice.

I love Thai food and am craving for some as I write this. Kowloon City (Little Thailand here in HK), here I come!