Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Trip Report, Part 18: "Steak" Lunch Near Rayong

"Steak", on Sukhumvit Highway 3 in Rayong

[This is part 18 of a series that may or may not ever find its way to a proper conclusion. It has to do with my latest trip to Thailand, and the people, places and things I encountered along the way. You can find the rest of the series by clicking here on Trip Reports.]

Chantaburi Province rests between the Gulf of Thailand and the Cambodian border; right above Trat, the Southernmost province on the Eastern "leg" of the country.  The name comes from two Sanskrit words: chandra, meaning moon, and buri, meaning town.

While the island of Koh Phangan may host the grand bacchanalia that is the full moon party I was relieved to learn that this area is the polar opposite, thank goodness. In fact, other than areas more commonly visited by foreigners set on raising hell most places are far more normal; something - as television hostess and former convict Martha Stewart would say - is a good thing.

The daughter, working in the open kitchen of "Steak"

After the detour to see my friend's "new" home we pulled out again onto Highway 3/Sukhumvit (yes, the same Sukhumvit that runs through Bangkok) and continued South. I was looking forward to what promised to be a fairly calm and restful weekend, but I couldn't seem to pry any more details about it out of my friend other than our destination was a small, family-owned resort in the Laem Sing area, near Chantaburi. I was satisfied with that, for the time being, and watched the scenery sail by.

Ride 'em, cowboys...
Once again I was slightly surprised at how much of a load some Thai will stack on the back of a pick-up truck; this time it was sections of gate mesh, piled high above a reasonable level, topped with two workers like cherries on a sundae. Those of you old enough to remember the old ticketing system at Disneyland will understand my saying to my friend "Now THERE'S an 'E' ticket ride!", but he didn't get it.

It swayed like the palms along the roadside, and I breathed a quiet sigh of relief when my friend pulled around and left them behind us.

"Are you hungry?" my friend asked, and I had to admit that I was, even though I'd had a large bowl of rice porridge with pork for breakfast. "I've eaten at this place before," he said, already slowing and pulling to the side of the road "I think you'll like it."  "What's it called?" I asked, and he replied "Steak".  "No, I meant what is the name of it, not what do they serve..." I began, but he looked at me as if I'd asked five times already and said "It's called 'Steak'," but they serve many things."

My lunch entree - pork on rice

As it turned out it was what I'd call a typical Mom and Pop place back home; basic, home style food in a casual setting. The same as you're likely to see in any of ten thousand other locations throughout Thailand.  About the only differentiating feature here were the packaged snacks for sale on each table, and the bottles of their own BBQ sauce that were also available for purchase.

Along with the banana chips and crispy crepe-style rolls there was a domed cup of small dumplings that reminded me of deep-fried gnocci. My friend called them what sounded like "gahree" puffs, but I'm unable to find an online reference for them. Filled with fish, peppers and yellow bean they were just slightly sweet, and the crust that held it all was crisp.  You can see the insides below.

I'd already taken a picture of the daughter while the man behind her cooked our meals, but wanted one of him, too, so she called out "Papa!" and he turned and posed.

It was a good break in a good spot, despite the traffic along Sukhumvit.  Drinks, an appetizer, two entrees and the snacks we purchased to take along with us came to less than 150 baht.

The dining area, thankfully in the shade

Our next official stop was said to be our destination.  I dozed a few minutes along the way, and woke up as we pulled off of the highway.  "Almost there," my friend assured me, and I was ready.


Anonymous said...

That "guhree puffs" is a common pastry in Asia - dough filled with sweetmeats etc & deepfried. We in Malaysia refer to them as curry puffs( with fillings made from assorted vegetables, potatoe, various kinds of meat, some spicy, & other fillings like peanuts, red beans, green beans etc).
Another variation is steamed like those dumplings dim sum.
Sizes vary according to the whims of the cook. These are normally served during breakfast or tea time, as well as desserts.

khunbaobao said...

Thanks for that, Eduard. :-) I probably should have gone with my initial gut feeling that what's also spelled "guri", "guree" and "Ghari" was probably much the same thing that we'd had, although regional differences can alter a dish.

I went back on the trail this morning and found several recipes that backed up the name.

Tasty, whatever you call them and regardless of the slight variations in filling.

Anonymous said...

A Thai friend once asked me if I wanted to try cully puffs? Up to try most Thai street foods (within reason), i said yes. Curious. Should have remembered the Thai pronunciation difficulties with the letter "r" - he meant curry puffs and i have become addicted to them! A retired teacher (man) makes and sells delicious versions at Saphin Hin in Phuket Town

Phuket Tom

khunbaobao said...

Great story, Phuket Tom - thanks for sharing it here! Little gems like that add so much to memories of a trip, I think. I bet you think of that one over the years. Join in again any time!