While I actually do believe that man can survive on street food alone, at moments in our trip, I was inspired to try the occasional eating establishment housed in an actual building. I do, however, use the term “building” rather loosely. There was always a roof, though not always made of solid materiel, though only one of the three actually had walls. The first restaurant we hit up was Huen Phen. I had been told that lunch was the time to go here, as opposed to dinner, as that was when the Thai people actually ate there. So I complied. Rows of long communal tables greeted us, and we chose a perch at the end of one. A nice Thai family at the end of the table helped us out by flagging down a server and having menus brought to us. We ordered, starting with sticky rice, the staple of this area.
Unfortunately, at this point, I no longer have any food photos because I was completely distracted by the shrimp papaya salad and fermented spare ribs that arrived. I had also ordered some kind of fermented porkiness but due to a miss understanding received deep fried pork rinds instead. No big loss, as I put it, I do not turn down pig skin in any form. The meal was amazing, the portions were tiny, which meant we could try a big variety. This inspired us to try a similar Northern Thai restaurant for dinner, Aroon Rai, also sometimes spelled Arun Rai. Here, B was able to keep our mitts off the food for long enough to snap some pics, unfortunately, I’m not entirely sure what everything is. Or really, much of anything, though I’ll do my best.
This (above) is the Chiang Mai style Mushroom Salad. This was very well flavored and the mushrooms were definitely the best part, full of flavor and well marinated in the sauce.
This was a truly good rendition of classic chicken khao soi, the traditional egg noodles in a curry broth that is one of the best things I’ve learned of in a while. I will definitely have to check around to see if it is available in Seattle. A google search turns up Thaiku in Ballard, which I’ve actually heard good things about, so I’m hopeful. I also see that Chez Pim, the well known blogger of all things Thai seems to have a recipe available on her website. I’ll have to try that out soon.
Next up, the classic Thai style spring roll. You can see the sticky rice hanging out in the background.
Okay. Here is the first of the things I don’t remember. Vegetables and egg with Chiang Mai sausage is my best guess. I’m fairly certain the meat is the Chiang Mai sausage, which I don’t know all that much about.
Stir-fried greens (possibly morning glory?) with pork. And thus concluded our meal at Aroon Rai. One of the best parts about this meal was the walk to it, where we stumbled on to yet another parade, this one even bigger than the others. When we got to the restaurant, it turned out it fronted onto one of the parade routes, so we got a good little show with dinner.
Already in love Khao Soy, we decided to make a pilgrimage to Just Khao Soy, the restaurant that makes an attempt to elevate this humble street food to the realm of fancy food. Overall, I thought the food was good, but not great, and if you are trying to elevate a food, you must do it at least as good as the street version. I don’t think this did. It was nice to eat it in a fine restaurant, with beautiful presentation, but I just wanted better Khao Soy.
We started with some fancily named appetizer platter. The far left is the same Chiang Mai sausage I discussed above, then the dipping sauce for the spring rolls, and the spring rolls. Next is the deep fried little fishies (see below), which were my favorite, the dipping sauce for the fish and the beef, and then the (deep fried, I believe) beef (buffalo?) jerky.
Deep fried little fishes. I love.
Yes, the presentation of the Khao Soy is pretty amazing. I think you can tell, but it is an artists platter, with the khao soy front and center. What you can’t see in this picture is that they also give you bibs to keep the noodle splatter off you. Points for that one, since nearly all my light colored shirts had some sort of noodle slurping stain on it by the end of the trip. I ordered mine as the spiciest and without the coconut milk, so I didn’t add much of the condiments, as it was fairly flavorful, but it was nice to have the options. And I do agree it was nice to have such a beautiful presentation. My biggest problem with the Khao Soy was that the noodles they used were more like fettucine than the typical yellow egg noodles used in the street Khao Soy.
Another beautiful presentation to finish the meal. We had a group of ice cream: basil, amaretto and something else, which were all good, though I preferred the more traditional mango and sticky rice. Overall, it was probably worth it to go to Just Khao Soy, though not for the tastiness of the food, just for the experience.