24 March 2011
Thailand Street Food Tour ~ Krabi Town
On day two of our Thai street food tour we hit Krabi Town for boat noodle soup, kanom jin, crunchy mussels, a sensationally simple breakfast, and a halal Thai lunch.
Most tourists fly through Krabi Town in a race to get to the beach, but we love the mid-sized town vibe here. There's wide open streets and plenty of food. We land here on a lazy Saturday afternoon, the locals are taking it easy, it's a relaxed place. There's a night market setting up in the town centre, we'll cover that in the next post.
Shawn explodes with joy as he spots a boat noodle soup stand.
The locals are going ga-ga this boat noodle soup. It is delicious: a lovely combo of dark, sweet, beefy broth, thin noodles, meat and veggies. Sydney-siders should count their blessings as we can get near identical boat noodle soup in Thainatown, our favourite is the $4 wonder at Chon Siam on Campbell Street.
On the subject of boat noodle soup, may we curse the new owners of Uni Thai in Glebe who took all the good stuff off the menu, especially boat noodle soup and sticky rice with fried chicken and fresh chili paste, and replaced it all with the same old yawnish stir fry stuff. Rant over.
Thai milk tea has quickly become one of our all time favourite Thai treats. Super strong smoky tea flavour, super cold, super refreshing, super sweet. You can also get this in Thainatown.
Most Thai street vendors will provide free ice and water, assuming there's a table to put it on. In our months of travelling Thailand it has never made us sick and we always assume it's treated and safe. The tubed ice not only does a brilliant job of cooling, but indicates it is manufactured and safe.
Thankfully we shared one entree sized soup between us, leaving plenty of stomach room for whatever is being served at this very busy stand across the road. (Praise to our favourite travelling foodbloggers, EatingAsia for this stomach saving trick of the trade).
This time Alison squeals with delight as she discovers this stand serves kanom jin: a simple dish of thin rice noodles with curry sauce on top plus a DIY selection of fresh herbs and veggies.
Shawn goes for the mild yellow curry sauce. In our travels we have found Thai curry is very similar to what we have back in Oz. It is usually found in these shiny pots in roadside stands, served lukewarm or cold. Often this yellow-ish curry is just a sauce with no meat or veggies.
Alison goes for for the spicy number, she's a sucker for anything with those tiny little eggplants in it.
Fried chicken is an option.
Alison's kanom jin.
Look away, this kanom jin is naked, time for some dressing.
Herbs, pickles and veggies to put on top of your kanom jin noodles. The veggies here are nice and fresh, in some places with lower turnover they can get a bit ropey in the midday heat.
More fresh herbs.
Serving suggestion. Kanom Jin can be found in Sydney if you hunt for it, we've had a fancy version of it at Thanon Khoa San in Thainatown.
There's Thai sweeties on offer, sweet-tooth Shawn can't resist.
These babies are very sweet and very addictive. You can get these in the Thai supermarkets around Campbell Street in Sydney, also at Thanon Khoa San. Google tells me these are called tong yord and made by boiling egg yolk, sugar and flour.
For din dins we hit the night market down by the river. Shawn is super excited to find a night market, he is obsessed with small Thai towns and not all of them have night markets these days, and not all are this busy.
There's a good forty odd stalls but we settle on this guy, cooking something mysterious.
Fresh mussels are the star ingredient. These are fried up with flour to make them crunchy. Shawn is happy to find a mussel smaller than his own. Boom tish.
The end result is not an attractive dish but it was a happy adventure in taste and texture, we'll be up for crunchy mussels again any day.
Shawn foolishly allows Alison into the 7 Eleven unsupervised. She comes out with sweet basil potato chips (tastes like chicken) and fried salmon skin. Our Western palates aren't so sure about these very fishy tasting crunchy chips, but it was fun to try.
We hunt around for breakfast options. This noodle soup stall looked good but the chef was absent.
Instead we choose this drink'n'snack stall because a lovely lady asked us to sit down so very nicely.
We order iced coffees, these are ok but too sugary even for Shawn's uber sweet tooth. There's a plate of fried Chinese bread sticks on each table, these optional extras are too hard to resist. We dunk the light crunchy dough sticks into the coffee and we nearly explode with delight. This is our new favourite breakfast.
Shawn liked to bite off the end then thoroughly soak his breadstick in the coffee, kind of like the old coffee and Tim Tam trick. Alison preferred the ladylike quick dunk. Pussy.
We noticed the local guy next to us order something mysterious in a glass - "I'll have what he's having!".
It turns out to be soft boiled eggs in a glass. Perfectly cooked. So simple yet inexplicably devine. Add white pepper and Maggi seasoning to taste.
Eggs done, it was time to find the red songteow (cheap taxi bus/ truck) out of town and head for the bus station. But first we get some healthy snackages for the ride.
Cooked soft sweet potato, 10 baht for a small bag.
We leave the peanuts for the monkeys.
Water chestnuts, still warm, crunchy yet moist, incredible textures. Once again, the simplest things are often the best.
We get to the bus station and find we have an hour to wait. Yawn. At this point we discovered the true joy of travelling light. For this trip we carried only tiny 20 litre daypacks. It was a travel revelation, the sense of freedom is incredible. While other travellers were stuck at the bus station minding their backpacks and fending off fake sunglass sellers, we were free to wander off and explore. So we did.
A short walk away from the Krabi bus station is a market with fresh food and more goodies to try.
There's a big Muslim population in Southern Thailand so we were keen to try some halal Thai food. As usual we choose from prepared dishes in shiny pots.
How's this for a spread?
Once again Alison is lured by the tiny eggplants, despite the vendor lady's warning that this dish was very spicy. We soon learn that when they say it's spicy, they mean it.
Shawn goes for the halal version of his favourite: stewed pork and egg, the pork is very successfully substituted with chicken. A simple mix of veggies and prawns on the side. I didn't know prawns were Halal, a bit of googling tells me that folks are divided on this one.
Help yourself to fresh veggies. I usually hate bean sprouts but these were marinated and amazing.
We weren't sure what to do with these bananas, now we slap ourselves for not giving them a go...
More fresh sides - banane flowers (not so pretty after sitting out for a bit) and chopped pieces of wing beans.
Fried chicken is on the table as an optional extra.
More fresh and free sides.
Little packets of rice and pork for the bus ride, available in the market (not so halal). Why eat junk food when you can pick up something like this for 10 baht, less than 50 cents.
A pair of friendly Muslim aunties give us a sample of this cocount sticky rice with a knowing smile. One bite and we are hooked.
Our bag of sticky rice with little bags of fresh coconut milk and seseme seeds.
Had we not been travelling so light we would never have stumbled across this wonderful market.