A reader (and ahem, my niece) named Erin Rose is enjoying a seemingly endless trip to the Hawaiian islands, where she has been posting a series of envy-inducing photos to Facebook and Instagram. Shots of beaches, leis, seals, sea turtles, sunrises, cute summer dresses, fruity drinks with umbrellas — you name it. Even the shots of pineapples, apparently given out as a reward when one finishes a 10K in Wahiawa (she’s a runner), are making me jealous.
And then, if that weren’t enough — she snapped THIS shot, of a delicious-looking pad Thai and spring rolls that she apparently found at a Thai food truck near Kahuku — and further tagged me in the photo, just in case I hadn’t noticed. Was it as good as it looked, I wondered? “It was pretty delicious!” she informed me. “Especially after driving for way too long and just finding the place on the side of the road.”
*Sigh. Finding a Thai food truck on the side of a road, somewhere on a Hawaiian island? Sounds like paradise to me.
Safe travels, Erin!
Pho Viet Huong’s yellow curry shrimp with string bean and coconut milk.
So I recently was called to perform my civic duty at Manhattan’s criminal courthouse at 110 Centre Street.
I suppose most people aren’t filled with bittersweet nostalgia when entering the criminal courts building, but I certainly am. From 1999 to 2004, as a reporter for Dow Jones/Wall Street Journal, I covered numerous financial fraud trials here, plus classic press conferences with Robert Morgenthau at the nearby Manhattan DA’s office. My actual office, for five years, was in the press room at the federal courthouse across the street, where I covered everything from corporate lawsuits and indictments to high-profile, insanity-laden cases like the Martha Stewart trial.
All of which means being called to jury duty is a lot like coming home for me. During those years at the courts, I ate lunch nearly every day in Chinatown…where I discovered first-hand how delicious, filling and intriguing curry meals could be. A press room favorite was always Pho Viet Huong on Mulberry Street. So after spending a recent morning as a potential juror, as soon as we broke for lunch, I headed straight there.
“Long time, no see!” the older Vietnamese lady who runs the place said, in heavily accented English, as soon as I walked in. I was instantly transported back to 2003 — around the time I was covering the fraud trial of Tyco’s former executives — and ordered one of my favorite meals from that time period: Yellow curry shrimp with coconut milk.
The waiter brought the most recent iteration of that dish, which now comes with string beans (pictured above) and tasted as delicious as ever. As I ate my lunch, I saw the usual suspects file in and out of the restaurant — lawyers (the ones dressed in suits), civil servants, tourists and a few other potential jurors. Tomorrow, I thought, on my second day of jury duty, perhaps I’ll try another old haunt, Pongsri Thai on Bayard. “Goodbye,” I said to the Vietnamese lady, who enthusiastically nodded and repeated again. “Long time, no see!”
Alas, I headed back to jury duty but wasn’t picked for a trial. By mid-afternoon, I had been dismissed. “You won’t be called for another six years,” the clerk said. Six years!?!
Of course, I don’t need to be on jury duty to go to Pho for lunch….but when you work in midtown, like I do now, Chinatown is a long ways away.
Before jumping on the train, I decided to indulge in one last favorite pastime from my days in the courts: I stopped by the press room and hauled an old Bloomberg colleague away from his work to get a drink with me.
If only jury duty happened more often!
If you find yourself in Bangkok, and are looking for restaurants that will satisfy your foodie sensibilites without setting you back drastically, here are four good places to try. (To note: You can always have a delicious curry at a Bangkok street market, though the ambience may be lacking.) We consulted a few resources, including BK Magazine, to find these winners. This list would be longer, but alas….we had limited time in Bangkok!
Pictorial essay follows the list.
1.) Issaya, 4 Soi Sri Aksorn, Chua Ploeng Road, Sathorn. This is located in a lovely 1920s Thai home; we sat on the verandah and enjoyed the sights and sounds (frogs!) of the garden. The boyfriend in particular loved the chili-glazed baby back ribs, pictured farther down this page. Our bill would have been much lower if we had shown any sort of restraint; however, we couldn’t pass up trying the delicious cocktails and numerous appetizers. Romantic, stylish, laid-back, chill place.
2.) The Local, 32-32/1 Soi Sukhumvit 23, Khlongtoey Nuea, Wattana. This is also located in a converted old house, and the tables on the outside deck seemed particularly nice (the interior of the restaurant, while nice, was a bit brightly lit for my taste). Note to the wise: If you are headed to The Local via taxi, allow yourself some extra time to deal with legendary Bangkok traffic. We got a late start that was made later by gridlock…the wait staff was not happy to see us arrive at close to 11 pm, but were very gracious. We loved the pomelo salad and the Southern fish curry.
3.) Tongue Thai, 18-20 Charoen Krung 38, Bangrak, basically behind the Mandarin Oriental. If you happen to be near the river during the day, this is a wonderful place to pop in for lunch. Cute, charming and small, Tongue Thai has tasty, beautifully presented dishes and friendly service. We had Pad Thai with Singha and enjoyed a break from the heat.
4.) Supanniga Eating Room, 160/11, Soi Sukhumvit 55. This is the type of place we’d die for in the West Village, where we live. (In fact, the owner told us he planned to open a location in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District.) The dishes are based on the owner’s Grandma’s recipes, and there is some charming kitsch — notably, the entrées are served on flower-patterned china — mixed with trendy design, perfect mood lighting and good people watching.
Here’s a closer look at the restaurants and the dishes we sampled….
Here’s a view of the restaurant’s charming exterior….it’s a gem of a spot, located so close to Bangkok’s hustle and bustle, yet so far away.
We started with a string of Issaya’s tasty appetizers, including the can’t-miss chili-glazed baby back ribs (left) for which chef Chef Ian Kittichai is known, and the banana flower salad (right).
And one of our entrées was this fine-looking crab dish…
At The Local, we started with the pomelo salad with prawns, diced red bell peppers and fried shallots — which sadly, I do not have a photo of — but it would be a delicious summertime dish to try recreating here in New York. For our main dish, we had the Southern fish curry, pictured below. It was quite fishy (indeed, the fish used may have been mackerel) with some nice heat. There were veggies mixed in, including string bean and pea eggplant — a vegetable that I can never, ever find in New York, so that was a thrill. The dish was served with cucumber, which I believe was to counter the spiciness, though we didn’t find this overly potent. The waitress came around with a basket, from which she scooped out rice for both of us, something I have only seen done in Thailand.
We wandered out of the heat and into this cute little place for lunch, where we nibbled on some delicious chicken larb….
We also tried the pad thai (When in Thailand…), which was a winner, especially when paired with Singha.
SUPANNIGA EATING ROOM
For our last night in Bangkok, we wanted to dine at a special place, and we were not disappointed with Supanniga. On the menu, the Penang curry beef was advertised as “melt in your mouth” and it does. The sauce was deep red, featuring a few slivers of red pepper and a dollop of coconut on top. I was struck by how super-fine the paste was…and how many shredded kaffir lime leaves were used! All of the ingredients made this one incredibly aromatic dish.
Throughout the course of the evening, we also had the crabmeat appetizer, some delicious pork wrapped in leaf, and sautéed mackerel…and yet somehow were still hungry for more. We concluded with this yummy dish, Southern wild beans stir-fried with prawns & shrimp paste. Oh Bangkok, it is so difficult to leave you!
Green curry with coconut, milk and lots of tender bamboo shoots.
So after landing in Bangkok for a few days recently, we found ourselves in the Sukhumvit neighborhood, where we checked out rolls and rolls of beautiful silk at the Jim Thompson factory outlet store. All the shopping made us hungry for a late-afternoon snack, so we headed to a nearby street market. It was getting to be rush hour, and we passed commuters getting off the nearby Skytrain and hopping onto the back of taxi scooters.
Inside the street market, we decided to split a Thai green curry with coconut milk, chicken and lots of tender bamboo shoots. We sat in a little dining area next to the stall, where some nice ladies gave us utensils and a roll of napkins. The curry (pictured above) was room temperature which — given that it was about 95 degrees out — didn’t particularly bother us. It was tasty and moderately spicy…a nice repast to hold us over until dinner later that night.
Some scenes below of the street market.
Here’s the ladies who made the curry…I liked their work station.
The market, located so close to the Skytrain, clearly caters to commuters who want to pick up easy meals on the way home. I thought this was clever…this is a to-go bag with fresh curry paste and vegetables, so you can easily prepare your curry dinner at home. The lady who ran the stall said she caters to vegetarians.
As always, I envy the ease with which Bangkok shoppers can find curry ingredients! Here’s some clever bundling…this is lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime leaves, sold together. This would be a dream come true for me if American grocery stores ever did this.
I liked the presentation of the vegetables at this stall. Nothing like a little grouping on a plate to make you want to buy!
Thai red curry soup from Pacific Place’s food court in Hong Kong.
After exploring Hong Kong on a recent morning, we headed — of all places — to the food court in the basement of the Pacific Place complex to pick up lunch. (The BF used to work near there, so he wanted to show me his old stomping grounds…) The food court pleasantly reminded me a bit of New York’s Eataly — lots of tantalizing options and good aromas.
We both ended up with Thai red curry soup, because it smelled too delicious to turn down. We could choose what meat/protein we wanted with it….much to my surprise, one of the options was hot dog (!). We chose pork instead. The nice Thai lady who made it put the meat in a bowl, added fried tofu, vermicelli noodle, bok choy, green onion, spicy chile paste and roasted shallots, then poured red curry coconut broth (with whole kaffir lime leaves) over it all. Yum!
We took our soup to go, sat on a bench in Hong Kong Park and watched the world — many of them wearing business suits — go by.
Our view from the park bench in Hong Kong Park.
Gentle readers, please excuse the lack of recent posts. I’ve spent the last couple weeks in Southeast Asia, touring amazing spots like Cambodia’s Koh Rong Island (pictured above) and indulging in various & sundry delicious curries, in not just Cambodia but also Hong Kong and Thailand. Heaven! Will post observations, potential new recipes and more amazing photos, as soon as the jet lag wears off.
It’s come to this: Even perfect strangers are sending me photos of their curries!
Well, that may be a slight exaggeration. I recently made the acquaintance of Kelly & Chris while out for the evening with my old pal Brian. In the course of the conversation, my curry blog came up — and lo and behold, Kelly & Chris had recently made a delicious curry (and had snapped this beautiful photo). This is Curry Butternut Squash Soup, a recipe they followed from Real Simple. “We used two different sauces for the drizzle, a sweet red chili and a garlic chili pepper,” according to Chris. Wow. Impressive!
Penang curry at Siam Thai in Tampa.
Two weeks ago, after a cold snap here in the city, I needed an escape.
Fortunately for me, two girlfriends that I know from growing up in snowy Syracuse, N.Y., have moved to sunny Tampa, Fla., and invited me to visit. (Well, I may have invited myself…). So after my plane de-iced at JFK, and after a few hours in the air spent reading back issues of the New Yorker, I had arrived in the balmy South.
The weekend featured lots of catching up, two trips to the beach, consumption of something called Mike’s Hard Limeade (or as my one friend’s significant other put it, the Zima of the 21st Century), numerous sightings of palm trees and — of course! — one curry dinner, which actually wasn’t even my idea. It’s nice when friends I haven’t seen in years know of my culinary tendencies…but then again (hello!) that is one of the benefits of writing a curry blog.
On the Saturday evening of my Tampa stay, my pal Kimberly and I headed to Siam Thai restaurant in Westchase. I had the penang curry with chicken (pictured above) with zucchini, cabbage (interesting!), broccoli, bell pepper, carrot, basil leaf and ground peanut.
Was it earth-shattering? No. But was it comfort food? Yes. And it fit right in with the rest of the weekend. Sunshine, old friends, curry. During a cold January, I couldn’t ask for anything more.
A reader named Jimmy sent an alert about a new recipe he had found on Pinterest, Crock Pot Chicken Curry, published on a blog called O’Boy! Organic. The woman who writes the blog, a mom who was inspired to make organic foods for her kids, said she first fell in love with curry while living in London….same here! She also mentions having a husband who is not fond of Indian cuisine — oh my, that would be a deal breaker in my book. In any event, I tried the recipe with a few alterations — among other things, I don’t have a crock pot (I used a big Le Creuset pot) — and post my version here. I added a few more spices than she used, and substituted cauliflower for potatoes (I don’t like potatoes – truly the only food I dislike). Thank you Jimmy and thank you Trina O’Boyle for the recipe!
Easy Indian Chicken Curry
1 lb chicken breast on bone
2 tbsp coconut oil (or any veggie oil)
1 sweet onion, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
3 large black cardamon pods
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp cloves
1 tsp chili powder
2 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1-inch fresh ginger, grated
1 fresh tomato, diced
1 can (28-oz) diced tomatoes
1 can coconut milk
1 cup chicken broth
1 can (15-oz) chick peas
1 head of cauliflower, chopped
1 cup peas
Saute onion in coconut oil until translucent. Stir in garlic, and saute until golden. Add all the spices: black cardamon pods, bay leaf, cloves, chili powder, curry powder, coriander, cumin and ginger. Stir for a few minutes, making sure the onions are properly coated, then add the fresh tomato and can of tomato. Allow to warm, then pour in chicken broth and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, then add chicken on bone, and reduce to simmer for half-hour (or until chicken cooked). Remove chicken, allow to cool, and take off bone, shredding into bite-sized bits. Meanwhile, add the cauliflower and chick peas into the curry, and simmer for 20 mins or so. Add the chicken pieces back in and peas. Allow for the flavors to meld, then serve over rice. Delicious!