To say we ate well in Thailand and Cambodia would be an understatement. And by some strange miracle we didn’t get sick. Wha???
I kind of balked at prices of things – as though food (and other things) would have magically remained the same price as 8-9 years ago. Thankfully, my penny-pinching ways didn’t ruin all the fun as we slurped, snacked, chewed, gobbled and burped our way from Bangkok to Siem Reap and then down to the beaches of Krabi province. Don’t we sound charming? Travel with us! You’ll never starve!
Here are some highlights, loosely categorized and ranked according to my whimsy and memory (which is quickly being overridden with houmous and falafel). Needless to say, souvenir tour belly is progressing nicely.
Best Overall Meal: Pum’s, Ko Phi Phi
It feels kind of wrong to choose a meal at a chain restaurant as best overall since we frequently ate embarrassingly well on the street. And 8-9 years ago, I found a Thai woman with beach huts who fed me and two others ridiculously well for shamefully low prices. You know, a chain is less authentic than those options, right?
Whatever. For the combination of freshness, value-for-money, range of choices, and general deliciousness Pum’s was a stand out. I kind of wanted to go back but we ran out of time. We had a delicious herb salad, coconut curry and cashew seafood, and even crammed in a mouth-wateringly rich mango and sticky rice for dessert. Oh, and since we were being extra hedonistic, we had some cocktails which were freshened up with lemongrass. WINNING.
Best Salad: banana flower salad, Siem Reap
This was a revelation. I may have said “this salad is changing my life”, not that I’m prone to hyperbole or anything. Tangy, juicy, a homemade dressing, lots of herbs and overall deliciousness. I kind of wish we’d taken a cooking course if only to learn how to make this. It was never beaten, not by the banana flower salad we had at another place in Siem Reap, not by my near-daily intake of som tam in Thailand, and not even by the herb salad featured above (though that one is a close second).
Best Fried Potatoes: homemade chips, Siem Reap
A close second for best overall meal is probably a lunch we had in Siem Reap that began with homemade sweet potato and pumpkin chips. If we’d realized how big the order was, maybe we would’ve just had this for lunch:
Best Noodles: street stall near the airport, Bangkok
No photo, which is a shame. The other pad thai we had didn’t hold a candle to this one, perhaps due in part to the price (about a dollar each). It was quick, no nonsense and cooked up fresh with a plate of sprouts, green onion and lime on the side, along with the mandatory pots of sugar and various chilies we could add to taste. And some waters I grabbed down the street at the 7/11. Just what the doctor ordered after a day of hot and dusty travel back from Cambodia.
Best Noodle Soup: street stall, Siem Reap
Noodle soup was my go-to pretty much every other day, when I desperately wanted something not fried and didn’t want to push my luck with raw vegetables. The best one by a mile cost me $1USD at one of the dozen-odd street stalls that set up every night (and tear down by morning) in Siem Reap. There was something extra fresh tasting about it – herbs, or lemon, or something that made it quite excellent rather than basically hot and filling.
Best Fish: red snapper, Ko Phi Phi
We only had fish twice, really, and both were delicious. The snapper we picked for our last dinner in Thailand wins out over the barracuda Duncan had while we were in Railay. Narrowly. I don’t have a great vocabulary to compare different kinds of seafood, so it may come down to the different experiences: the snapper was at a funny large bbq place on Phi Phi where the cook crows like a rooster every time an order was up and the fish was piled with a veggie chutney. And the baked potato on the side was tasteh. The barracuda was fine, too, but it didn’t feel like An Event.
Most Random Food-like Substance
I don’t know what this is called. It was full of marshmallow fluff and… something else. I didn’t like it.
Best Lunch Cat
So this category is an excuse for a gratuitous cat photo. This guy showed up as soon as we sat down for lunch one day at the beach. As in, jumped into Duncan’s lap and started purring, then insisted on settling in behind me just like this. As if to say, “this is how you chill out on the beach, guyyyyss”.
Some other things
All of this was delicious. I swear to God, though, sometimes I just wanted a simple green salad and brown rice.