Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Food: Chili Culture in Bangkok

The old saying goes that religion and politics are usually topics best avoided if you don’t want to start a debate, but restaurants and food recommendations can be dicey, too. There have been quite a number of places in Thailand where I’ve had delicious meals, but I’ve been taken there by Thai friends via taxi, bus or their own car – and can’t read the signs in Thai, anyway.

Add to that the frequency of changes in ownership and titles and you’re better off putting on your asbestos suit and diving into one of the online forums to ask for a suggestion and directions.

That said - there are places where the food, staff, pricing or location made them spots I’d gladly return to, so I’ll try to remember to mention some as we go along. Civil suggestions and comments are always welcome – and appreciated!

One such place is the Chili Culture, at the “T” split on Sukhumvit Soi 11.

Exiting the Nana BTS station and heading about 600 yards down Soi 11 (you’ll pass the Ambassador Hotel on your right) you’ll see Chaidee Mansion at what looks like the end of the street. When you get there you’ll only be able to go left or right. If you go right and down another 40 yards or so you see Soi 11 continue to your left, but if you go to the right about 40 yards or so you’ll see Soi 11 continue to your right , also (my guess is the streets were named by a committee)! When you get to that “T” intersection you’ll see Chili Culture just to the left of Chaidee Mansion.

I was there at about 2pm one afternoon so I have no idea how busy it is at lunchtime or dinnertime proper, but there’s plenty of seating in a cool, comfortable atmosphere and it was a welcome break for lunch before walking further along for a stroll along the canal for photos and an afternoon massage.

Not feeling all that adventurous I fell back on the basic dish of Pad Thai; bean sprouts, rice noodles, dried shrimp, chili pepper, tamarind, shallots, fish sauce and garlic – usually garnished with a wedge of lime, ground peanuts and sugar on the side. It came wrapped in a thin egg crepe, as some places serve it. There are many variations. It may have been the day, my mood and the restaurant that added to it, but it was wonderful.

Arriving before the entrée was the fruit shake I’d also ordered. The Thai pronounce “watermelon” as tangmo – but I’d translate tangmo as “divine”. A tall, blended glass of tangmo and ice is one of the best things I’ve ever sipped on, and with fresh tropical watermelon it’s ethereal.

As an addendum (although we’ll cover this again later): the fruit in Thailand – as it often is in a tropical country – is much fuller in flavor than the picked-green-to-ship-well fruit available in non-tropical places. Be adventurous and try as much of it as you can there - it’s cheap and readily available on the street. To be cautious, wash it in potable water or peel it yourself – but don’t miss out.


Anonymous said...

Those have to be the most confusing directions I've ever read. Sorry, bao bao. Want to try again to direct me to that restaurant?

khunbaobao said...

Hmmm... How about walking down Soi 11 from Sukhumvit, go past the Ambassador Hotel a little further until you reach the point where you have to go left or right. Turn slightly left and go into the restaurant. You'll see it when you get to the end of the street. Google a map - I'm sure you'll see the area I've described. Good luck.

Christian said...

"Exiting the Nana BTS station" I had this problem several times: I went somewhere by BTS or MRT and when I arrived at the station suddenly the question turned up: "Which exit?". Now I write down which exit I took (to find it easier the next time) or check in a map where to exit (in or opposite to driving direction right or left). Whith this information, I'm on the right site of the street and walking in the right direction.

khunbaobao said...

Very good point, Christian. I often have to ask someone in the station which side of the street to get out of the station for the very same reason - and often run into the "please you" syndrome where they'll tell you what they think you want to hear, correct or not!

In the future I'll make an effort to note which exit is best so I can be a little more accurate. Until then, consider it part of the adventure? HA!