Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Rim Khuen (Samut Songkram)

The 5th of December is the birthday of the King of Thailand. It is also known as father's day and is a national holiday. We had friday off, so we had a long weekend. We decided to take a trip to Hua-Hin (the Hamptons of Bangkok). We were going to stay at the beautiful Evason Resort.

The drive was going to take about 2.5 hours. About half way there, we were starving for lunch. There were a lot of open-air restaurants along the way and we did not know which one to stop at for lunch. By pure accident we saw an open-air restaurant that had a lot of cars. We knew right away that it had to be good. The name of the restaurant was called Rim Khuen. It sits next to a klong with tourist boats and even boats selling ice cream.

We were already impressed with the large gravel dirt parking lot and it even had a parking attendant. When we arrived, the restaurant was full and there was a queue for a table. We had to wait about 20 minutes but it gave us a chance to see all the delicious food that was passing by and we already knew what we wanted when we finally sat down at the restaurant. In a way, it was good for us to wait for a table because I asked for the menu while waiting and the menu was only in Thai and did not have photos of the house specialties for stupid tourists as myself.

The first dish was grilled squid. Incredibly fresh, not chewy and had a nice smokey flavour. It came with a wonderfully spicy sauce to dip the tender squid into.

The second dish was an amazing nam-prik (Thai dip) with crab egg and grounded pork. Accompanied with fresh vegetables to dip into the nam-prik. I have never seen this kind of nam-prik but I was an instant fan after tasting it. I actually ordered another one because it was so yummy.

The next dish was fried plaa samlee with cashews and mango sauce on the side. Beautifully deep fried to a cripy golden brown. The meat of the fish was tender and the cashew nuts added extra flavour and texture. The mango sauce was not even needed because the fish tasted wonderful already but who can ever say no to shreded spicy mango sauce? Just a lovely combination.

The next dish was hoi-lot with chilies and sweet basil. This crustacean is very popular in this area and people flock from Bangkok to eat this soft, chewy and long clam. This dish was very tasty with just the right punch of spiciness from the chilies and sweetness from the basil.

The next dish was haw mok talaay (seafood souffle). This souffle like dish is steamed in a banana leaf and is incredibly creamy from the coconut cream and tasty from the spicess and seafood. A favourite of mine and I can eat several of them.

A view of the open-air styled restaurant. Simple, basic, cheap, fun and delicious. I am sure this restaurant is always full, but due to the holiday, it was packed with people.

The view of the klong from our table. Once in a while a motor boat would float by with local tourists going to the near by floating market. As well as a motor boat that was selling ice cream. I really wanted one but we did not have our lunch yet when the boat passed by.

Part of the charm of these open-air restaurants is about going back to basics. We take for granted that Thailand has such a wonderful array of affordable foods. We do not need to spend so much money for it in expensive restaurants. I love to see to see this kind of local atmosphere and see these types of traditional foods and desserts being made by hand.

Here a woman is making a lovely dessert made from a mixture of coconut and rice flour, stuffed into a banana leaf that has been cut to a very thin and long strip.

After the woman stuffs the banana leaves she hands them over to the next woman who then grills the dessert over burning coconut husk. The outcome is a sticky coconut dessert that you peal off the banana leaf. It is very yummy and the great thing about this dessert is that it is not too sweet.

Another dessert woman is sitting next to the coconut dessert woman. This woman is placing sticky rice and a banana onto a banana leaf. The rice is folded over the banana. The banana leaf is folded over and tied with a rope. It is then steamed (the steaming pot is in front of the woman).

We were very lucky that when we were paying our bill, there were three of these wonderful desserts left (more were coming out of the steaming pot). You need to eat the dessert warm. When you unfold the banana leaf, to your pleasure, you get a glutinous blob of rice with a soft and sweet banana in the middle. It is heavenly. What a way to end our wonderful lunch.

Directions to Rim Khuen:


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