I once commented in an interview that eating for a review needs experiences. Although that small sentence generated some counter-responses that hoped to ridicule me, I still stick to my gun. One does really needs to eat a lot so to compare the best from the rest. Think about wine critics, or coffee critics, for example. You will give more credits to those with longer experiences, right? So why not eaters with more experiences that you can listen?
For me, there’re always two types of food recommendations. One that you can buy from newspapers and magazines and the other that needs a bit of curacy from your trusty friends. From my experiences, you can’t just ask anyone for food recommendations. I used to think so, but people do have different tastes and it only seems wise that you follow those whose tastes fit yours best.
Since it has become a world-class seaside destination, Phuket has somehow drifted away from the main interests of many Thai travelers. First, the prices of everything, including simple local meals, have become exorbitant enough to make even well-heeled Bangkok dwellers flinch. However, during our recent trip to Phuket and Koh Yao Noi in Phang Nga, thanks to our lovely local guide, we came across this fantastic place that is truly charming both for its scrumptious tastes and value. Called Piang Prai (เพียงไพร), the place has been a favorite eatery for both locals and long-term residents here in Phuket.
Needless to say, as you might have already known, Bangkok is packed with all kinds of Japanese restaurants. In fact, since Japan has been exempting tourist visa for Thais, the country has instantly become our most popular tourist destination. Coupled with the myriad numbers of Japanese restaurants available in Thailand, it seems, at least for me, there’s almost nothing left to say about the country and its food.
But no matter. Connoisseurs always look for the best in everything. In Thailand, although we have so many kinds of Japanese restaurants, so much that it has become very hard to differentiate one from the other, we still crave for the real beautiful works of authentic masters. And here, perhaps, I am bringing you one of the best Japanese meals you can ever have in Bangkok. This beautiful Kaiseki meal – the special multi-course meal, the haute-cuisine of Japan – is available for dinner at Yamazato at the Okura Prestige Hotel in Ploenchit area.
May be it is the yearning for a simple life that drives many people back to the farm. In Thailand, where agriculture has always been a staple, at least before these past decades, small-scale homegrown farms are now becoming a big trend. Those who have come full circle in life, those who have seen it all and realized that nothing values more than the natural gifts of great seasonal foods, and those seeking a real self-sustainable, wholesome and fulfilling lifestyle, and even some who want to contribute something back, are now making their way back to the basic. And self-sustainable farming, as a way to feed themselves and perhaps a bit of the community, is the answer.
And these small farms, being nothing like the industrial farming, contain not just natural edible treasures, gorgeous views and clean air (not to mention troves of creatures, organism in the ecological biodiversity, wild birds and some turtles); they are also a good and living reflection of Thai traditional farming lifestyle that has somehow been forgotten.
At Sampran Riverside, one of Thailand’s longest-lasting family-run resorts, an organic farm is attracting not just tourists, but also hard-line city dwellers who want to break free from it all. Being just about 80 kilometres southwest of Bangkok, a weekend here offers a real relaxing, and even back-into-time vacation. For some people, visiting this farm makes them think of their childhood when sitting on a simply-assembled bamboo stretcher and the aroma of burning woods are most comforting. If you like nature and have a mind for their wonders, you will be excited walking in this farm. There will be lots of questions. Is that the cabbages we eat with somtam? What are these beautiful herbs? Is that the cotton trees we normally harvest from to make cotton? What about these water buffaloes? I myself just learnt that they are not the same species as those working buffaloes, these are called water buffaloes for their love of muddy pool, their indignant attitude and not for their love for hard works.
As you might have read from my earlier post, there’s a good evidence that Thai food has recently become a real big hit, eventually, on its indigenous grounds. Thai people, after having gone around the globe eating pasta, ramen, sushi and pizza (not to mention series of burgers, fries, creme brulee and coq au vin and the list goes on…), are now paying even closer attention to their native dishes and I think we are enjoying a tasty epiphany of many many dishes, one of them Pad Thai – the very very popular stir-fried noodle dish that has made it around the world and back, perhaps.
There’s a revival of Thai street food going on right now in the scenes of the local ‘haute’-restaurant. Instead of serving fancy dishes like the fusion, the Italian or anything Western and so on, they stick to the tried-and-true dishes that have been nourishing local Thais for decades, if not centuries. One of the revived dishes in this case, based on my experience, is this lovely Khao Kluk Kapi (rice fried or mixed with aromatic shrimp paste + all the ‘trimmings’)