6.068 Tom Yum Kung


14 (Sat) March 2015

Tom Yum Kung


at Feuang Nara

-Bang Rak, Bangkok-

with MG et al.

Mission to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic + Personal Deviation to the Kingdom of Thailand, Day 5 (see previously 6.066 Salomon Zosui).

After spending the past few days in Vientiane for work, I flew into Bangkok last night–the route to/from MNL/VTE always goes thru BKK–where I’ll stay for a short solo food holiday until tomorrow afternoon.

Venue 3 : Feuang Nara
Feuang Nara is a Thai restaurant. Menu offers a range of mainstream standards.  Popular among locals and expats.

On the second day of the Bangkok Diet…

To my great joy and honor, this evening’s dinner represented my first experience eating Thai food in Thailand with Thais*.  We were hosted by a colleague–native Thai, based in Bangkok–who took us to Feuang Nara–owned by her friend.

A tad pricy by local standards, most non-seafood dishes upwards of 150 THB (about $5).
More for seafood, though still cheap by global standards; case in point, the crab dish would cost nearly 4 times as much in Korea (see for example 4.123 Poonim Phat Phong Kari).

Tom yum is a Thai/Lao soup.  Consists of a chicken/fish stock, seasoned with fish sauce (salty) + lemon grass (sour) + chilies (spicy), as well as garlic + onion + galangal + coriander, plus various vegetables, such as mushrooms, bamboo shoots, eggplant, etc., often including shrimp (“kung”) or chicken (“gai”).  After phat thai, tom yum is arguably the second most famous Thai dish around the world.

Item 6 : Tom Yum Kung (3.0)

Living in Korea, I’d developed an intense aversion to tom yum kung (see for example 2.277 Tom Yam Kung), simply because it’s such a cliché there.  Sitting down in a Thai restaurant and flipping through the menu, someone will casually suggest tom yum kung, as if it were a novel idea, and then everyone else will enthusiastically praise the suggestion, as if it wouldn’t otherwise have been ordered anyway.  9 of 10 tables will feature a pot of tom yum; while aware that other types of soup exist, diners would never dare to experiment, given the safe familiarity of tom yum, given the Korean fear of uncertainty. 9 of the 9 will be of the kung variety; as menus never offer anything but shrimp, diners are largely unaware that other varieties exist.    The wife always insists on ordering it, denying that she does so just to annoy me.

Item 7 : Thot Man Pla (3.5)–most intense fishcake that I’ve ever tried, with minced chilies and herbs in the cake itself, lightly seasoned with various spices and curry, topped with crispy basil leaves, served with sweet & sour sauce; hadn’t even been aware that Thai cuisine had fishcakes.
Item 8 : Phak Boong Fai Daeng (3.5)–still my all-time favorite Thai dish.
Item 9 : Kaeng Som (3.5)–shrimp with chunks of veg omelette in a spicy/sour curry broth; unlike anything Thai that I’ve ever encountered.
Item 10 : Phad Thai (2.5)
Item 11 : Poonim Phat Phong Kari (2.5)–my second all-time favorite Thai dish.

The meal was amazing.  In addition to the food, which was awesome** all around in terms of taste, quality, and selection, I appreciated the opportunity to discuss the dishes with our host.  For example, I verified that both phat thai and tom yum kung are indeed commonly ordered by locals, not just tourists.  Eating with the natives, ain’t nothing like it (see for example 5.278 Local Lunch Again!).

Venue 4 : Hi-So
After dinner, we had a drink at the rooftop bar of Sofitel So–rooftop bars are very popular in Bangkok, nearly every major hotel having one.
Item 12 : Complimentary Nibbles Platter (2.5)–seaweed maki, olives, Thai-spiced nuts + Gin & Tonic

*Come to think of it. I can’t recall having eaten any meal of any kind anywhere with a Thai.

**Come to think of it, I can’t recall having eaten any Thai meal that was anything but enjoyable.

The Fifth – Food Avenue is a food court on the 5th floor of shopping mall MKB Center (to be explained in tomorrow’s post).
Offers a range of world cuisines, including Thai, Indonesian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Arabic, Greek, Italian, American, Mexican, as well as desserts and beverages–if I ever relocate to Bangkok, TESFA (Try Every Station in Fifth Avenue) will be my first project.
Venue 2 : Panda House
A food court with a full bar!
Singha on tap!
Venue 3 : Thai Fusion Cuisine
Not fusion, though certainly mainstream, with items like phat thai, tom yum, curries, etc.; the displays are real food–I wonder what happens to them at the end of the day.
An order of phat thai is ready within seconds.
More intimate restaurant-style seating is available along the sides.
Upon entry, everyone is handed a debit card, which is swiped with each order at any given station, credit limit of 1000 THB (about $30), total amount paid on the way out–my meal cost 483 THB.
Item 3 : Hong Kong Kailan in Oyster Sauce (3.5) + Item 4 : Chicken in Red Curry (3.0) + Item 5 : Omelette Rice (3.0)
Perfectly seasoned egg and fragrant jasmine rice; though part of a set, this deserves to be counted as a stand-alone dish.

I had a light lunch, anticipating that dinner could be a major affair.

While Fifth Avenue was kinda fun, the portions were regrettably too big to allow for much experimentation on my own, not that the offerings were particularly intriguing–unlike, say, a hawker centre in Singapore (see for example 4.267 Chicken Rice).

Even in this 5-star hotel, room service items are mostly around just 300 THB.

Later, back in my hotel room–after lunch, after dinner, after postprandial victuals–I couldn’t resist ordering a few midnight snacks from room service.

I would gain so much weight if I lived here.

Venue 5 : Pathumwan Princess Hotel Room Service
Item 13 : Chicken Wings with Chili Dip & Barbecue Sauce (3.25)–probably the worst possible thing to eat before bed, but I do like me some fried chicken late at night.
Item 14 : Stir-Fried Seafood with Chilie & Hot Basil Leaves (2.0)–seafood was kinda skimpy; first disappointing dish on the diet thus far.
Item 15 : Stir-Fried Chicken with Tamarind Sauce, Crispy Lime Leaves, and Dried Chilies (3.5)
Strips of deep-fried chicken, tangy, like sweet & sour; lime leaves provided a nice lift.

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