Friday, August 24, 2007

Southern Thailand

So I am going to finish all my photos in one post of Southern Thailand, cause I didn't take any pictures in some of the places we went to...sorry.

First off we arrived in Phuket to the most beautiful hotel ever (well for the price we paid anyway, which was about $50 for the night, in which our room got upgraded :))

View from our room

Our flight was in the middle of the day, so by the time we got there it was well after lunch and decided to have a snack by the pool (didn't want to miss out on that overcast sun!). I chose a cold rice noodle seafood salad which was lovely.

I love the dressings on these salads, cause they feel healthy and taste delicious. The squid was cut into interesting shapes too which was cool.

Later that night we headed down the beach for dinner. We noticed there were lots of Scandinavian run restaurants and stopped in one just in time before it poured down with rain. We ordered some cocktails to start with

Nice Glass

The lady was saying that they tried to find men glasses but couldn't, cause it's mainly women that order the cocktails, so lucky me! I lived on cocktails while I was away, I mean they are good for you right, all that fruit juice..


Naomi ordered the Spaghetti Marinara. This was our meal of choice when it came to something other than Thai, as we found out in the Islands that there aren't too many choices other than Thai or Western (which mainly included pastas, pizzas and sandwiches). The Italian dishes were more expensive than the Thai ones, but still very reasonable. You wouldn't pay over $10 for a dish, where as in Sydney if you wanted something decent you wouldn't find it for under $10.

Spring Rolls

I ordered some spring rolls to start, but as most of you might know in Thailand they don't have starters or mains, everything just comes out as it's ready. These were very oily, but also very tasty. The spring roll wrappers were thicker than normal which I quite liked.

Tom Kha Gai

I always like ordering soups for night meals sometimes, cause eating out breakfast, lunch and dinner for 3 weeks can get a bit excessive, so it's nice to have something light once in a while. Tom Kha is not spicy at all, as apposed to Tom Yum.

Next up we were off to Phi Phi! Phi Phi is beautiful, because it's such a small island there is no transport so you just walk everywhere, and it is so good not to get hassled by taxi and tuk tuk drivers, there are still the massage ladies though

Maya Beach (Where the beach was filmed)

Another day of messed up travelling times didn't see us arriving into Phi Phi until after 2:30,so we decided to go for a late lunch after a dip in the water. We found this really nice restaurant alongside the beach so we decided on that.

Panang Curry

This was nice, but not as good as the one that I made in Chiang Mai!

Mussamum Curry

Naomi got the mussamum curry which was spicier than normal, which I thought was great, but Naomi not so much. This was probably the best mussamum that I tasted while I was over there, but unfortunately it wasn't my dish....

Pad Thai

Roisin got her Pad Thai, which I think from memory was the first time she had ever had it. Both of them had never had Thai food before. I think that things are quite different in England.

Another night we went to a different restaurant by the water.


I thought I would try some Tempura, so I ordered the mixed vegetable one, but instead got the capsicum one. Again very oily batter and thick, not like the tempura I am used to at all...

Tom Yum Goong

I also got a Tom Yum which was delicious. There were so many prawns in here too which was a bonus. Not as spicy as I'm used to, but still very tasty.


Naomi had been wanting to have lobster since we arrived down south, so she thought this would be the night to get some. It cost about $27, which I didn't think was particularly good for the size of the lobster, but then i guess I don't normally order it when I am in Sydney, so I don't know how it compares.

Next up we went to Krabi, but I didn't take any food photos. The beach where we stayed had quite a few restaurants which had a theme of pizza/pasta and thai food. I was quite surprised how nice the pizzas were, the crusts were really thin and crispy and the toppings were like true italian and minimal. Very nice.

Then we travelled over to the eastern islands with the first stop being Koh Phangan. We went to what looked like a really nice restaurant in the guide book, but when we got there we were the only ones was quite strange.

Mussamum Curry

Onto my search for a good curry..when this came out I wasn't very hopeful that it was going to be tasty and unfortunately my suspicions were right. Very watery and not too much flavour. What is it with the beef here also? When we get it in Australia, the beef is always in chunks and fall apart tender. Here it's sliced thinly and is quite tough.

How cute is the rice though!

We then went to Koh Samui which for me is the party island of Thailand. On our first night we headed into the main town and walked up and down the streets before deciding on a very nice restaurant. It was called Rice and was an up market Italian Restaurant.

Interior of the restaurant

After we ordered we got this complimentary selection of breads and dips.

The dips and some of the bread was really nice, but the bread sticks were a bit stale...

I decided to splurge a bit and order the grilled prawns which were about $22.

Although they were very tasty, I thought it was a bit overpriced, considering the plateful of prawns that we got in Chiang Mai for about $10.

Naomi got the risotto which I think had some seafood in it or something.

When we were travelling from the ferry to our hotel, we noticed this really nice restaurant called The Cliff, which was surprisingly on a cliff and had a really nice view and looked really classy, so we decided to have a meal there. We were going to have a dinner there, but I thought it would be nicer to have lunch there, so we could appreciate the view.

As we walked through I knew it was going to be a nice restaurant. The menu had a Mediterranean theme with hints of Portugal, Italy, and Spain. We ordered some Sangria to start with which was very fruity and some bruscetta and garlic breads.


Salmon Fettuccine

Oh my god this would have had to have been one of the best pastas I have ever tasted. The pasta was cooked perfectly, it was oh so creamy and tasty and the salmon was orgasmic. It doesn't look like a lot, but I was struggling to finish it, and finish it I did. I wasn't going to let any of that go to waste!

Seafood Spaghetti

Naomi ordered this and said it was fantastic. It looked fantastic also. These meals were both around the $10 mark too! Very very cheap for something so delicious.

Roisin and Naomi

Well that post only took me a few I can get back onto some Australian restaurants. I went to a couple of places after I got back and thought I had transferred the pictures onto my computer, but I was mistaken and had deleted them off my camera :( But don't worry there will be more posts soon.

Monday, August 20, 2007

A Lot of Thai Cooking School

One thing you must do when visiting Chiang Mai is go to a cooking school. There are heaps around to choose from and they are well worth the money that you pay. Last time I was in Chiang Mai I went to the Chiang Mai Cookery School, which I thought was very good, but this time wanted to try a different one so I got on the net and found this one which was highly recommended. We only wanted to do a half day course which included 3 dishes (including making curry paste from scratch) and cost about $20.

Van we were picked up in

The van we were picked up in was pretty cool. The seats had been taken out and 2 couches filled the spots. The thing that is great about all these tours is they will come and pick you up from the lobby of your hotel for free.

Cooking Stations

Everything was really well presented and all the ingredients needed assorted on a plate ready to be chopped. Once you had finished one of the courses you would eat it and the staff would come around and clean up all the workstations ready for the next course. If only that would happen in everyday life....

Yui - Our Teacher

Yui, meaning big cheeks in Thai, was lovely. The cooking course was done from her house which made it very personal.

Getting ready to stuff

For our first course we made a stuffed cucumber soup. Yui said that you wouldn't find this in any restaurant, only if you went to someone's house, which was good to have something different from the normal Pad Thai, or Tom Yum. We started by mixing the pork mince with some garlic, egg, fish sauce, and pepper to taste. After that we cut 2 cucumbers into three similar pieces and carved out the middle.

Naomi stuffing cucumbers

Then we put the mince mixture into the hollowed out cucumbers. Yui had a pot of broth cooking on the stove with spring onions and stock and when we had finished with our cucumbers we put them into the soup. While they were cooking she showed us how to make carrot carvings. Mine were pretty uneven and not worth picturing, but i always say as long as it tastes good it doesn't matter!

The finished product (note that was not my carrot carving...)!

Next course was a vegetable fried rice (which included chicken...).


Clockwise from top, minced chicken, lemongrass, thai basil, pumpkin, onion, ginger, kaffir lime leaf, cooked brown rice.

These were all chopped finely and then fried and an egg was added at the end, with some fish sauce and sugar.

Frying the rice


Finally in the half day course was our choice of curry. Yui asked us at the beginning of the class which curry we would like to make, and I suggested Panang, as not many people there had tried it and i thought it was one of the best curries. So we started off by making the curry paste.

These mortar and pestles were the best ever. Yui said they cost about 300 Baht ($10!) I was amazed. They weighed a ton though, so i didn't even consider trying to take one on the plane. There were a ton of ingredients that went into the paste, which I think if I was making it all the time would be cost effective, but seriously after all that I think i will just use the premade stuff (i bought heaps of pastes back with me, they were so cheap!)

My creation!

I am not bragging but this was the best curry I had in Thailand. I remember the other one that I made a couple of years ago at the Chiang Mai cookery school being one of the best curries i have had also. I tried a lot of curries while I was in the south, but found them all very watery and some very bland. Instead of using oil to cook with you start with coconut cream (not milk) and fry it until it separates and then add the paste. Yui asked if anyone would like to put some of her super hot paste into it and I was like yeah! Although I didn't find it that hot.

Naomi about to eat hers

Friday, August 17, 2007

Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai would have to be my favourite place in Thailand. In my opinion it has some of the best food, the best atmosphere and everyone seems to be really genuine. Last time I went to Chiang Mai I was on a tour and we travelled by the overnight train which took 13 hours! This time we decided to fly! We travelled by Air Asia, which seems to be the Asian version of Virgin. There were no seats allocated either and let me tell you I have never seen so many people, since primary school, rushing to be in the front of the line. The flights were really cheap too, I don't know why anyone would catch the train.
So we went out to one of the many restaurants in the night bazaar area. I had been researching before I left on what were the specialties of the north, and one of them was Kao (Khao) Soi, which is a noodle type soup with crispy noodles on top, and as with most Thai dishes you can get it with your choice of meat/fish

I have now found my new favourite dish (It cost about $2 as well). The flavours were so intense and the contrast of the soft noodles and the crispy noodles was perfect. The only problem with it was that I wanted more and more, but it was nowhere else to be found apart from Chiang Mai (from what I could see anyway). So I have already found a recipe for it and will be trying it out soon.

Another favourite of mine is morning glory. I always seem to get Thai dishes that don't have too many vegetables in them, so to get my vegetable intake I ordered this as well. Stir fried in oyster sauce and big chunks of garlic! So good.

Naomi got Pad Siew, which she had never had before and didn't really like the texture of the noodles. I love pad siew. I prefer it to Pad Thai, cause of the big fat noodles.


I love all the condiments you get with thai food, so you can flavour it to your liking. From the top you have chilli flakes, fish sauce, sugar, and chilli vinegar. I like spicy food so I always add extra chilli flakes and chilli vinegar. Sometimes you get a different type of chilli vinegar which is much hotter and has small green chillies in it.

Mango and Sticky Rice

I had never tried this before, but it was so good. It was the perfect sweetness so it wasn't like normal desserts that make you feel sick afterwards.


Naomi had seen this and really wanted to try it. I had never tried it either, and I don't think I would have it again. It didn't have much flavour and there are too many other fruits that taste so much better.

Another night we went to a seafood restaurant and ordered up a feast between the two of us. It all up cost us about 10 bucks each including cocktails.

Prawn Tempura

This was really good. It's hard to find good tempura in Thailand, cause most of the times the tempura will be thick greasy batter.

Fried Rice

Grilled River Prawns

These prawns were huge, although once you peeled them you weren't left with too much. They were delicious though.


Finally we got some mussels topped with cheese. We were stuffed by the end of it and couldn't finish it all.

On the last night we went to the riverside restaurant which I went to last time I was there, but only for drinks. So this time I wanted to have a meal there. It says on their menu that there are over 500 items to choose from, so you won't have a problem finding something you like.

Papaya Salad with Shrimps (Som Tam)

I started off with a Som Tam, which is a cold salad and has a really nice dressing of tamarind, lime, fish sauce, and palm sugar. This wasn't as spicy as I have had it before though.

Chicken and Cashew Nut

This I found quite bland and not at all like the chicken and cashew nut that you would get from a Thai restaurant in Sydney. I should have ordered my Kao Soi again...

Sticky Rice

Another northern specialty is sticky rice, so I thought I would order some of that too. Usually you would order this with fried chicken from street vendors. All of that cost me about $6, which is a bit of a bargain. The seating was alongside the river as well, so it was a beautiful view.

At the restaurant they also had two ends where bands were playing. We went to the end nearest to us and listened to this excellent band called the bugs. They sang cover songs, but had their own twist on them. I would recommend going to this restaurant if you are in Chiang Mai.


Well I am back from my 3 week holiday in Thailand and am finally getting around to posting up all of my photos. I didn't take photos of every single thing that I ate, otherwise I would be posting forever! We started off in the food paradise of Bangkok. Last time I came here I remembered that the food courts were an excellent place to eat, because you could get any type of cuisine you wanted. Last time I only ventured to the MBK Shopping Centre food court, but by the end of this trip we ate in a few different other ones as well. I didn't take too many photos though, cause we didn't realise that you aren't allowed to take photos in them for some reason. Strange, anyway we were staying in a hotel in Silom and in a street near the hotel was a market that was on every day and then by night it was totally cleared away.

Thai Pancakes

These were the best. I could eat these every day. They were a roti pancake mixture and then you could choose what you wanted on them. The flavours that I tried all had banana in the middle of them and then had one with chocolate sauce, one with nutella and my favourite of sugar and condensed milk. They would cut them up into little squares and give you toothpicks to eat them with. Oh they were so good and cost less than $1.

Near Silom road I had read about this street which was called Thaniya, which was pretty much lined up with Japanese restaurants and clubs and also my favourite Japanese street food. Takoyaki.

I love watching this being made, i think my friend was getting sick of it, but i just love how it starts as the mixture on the left and then turns into these perfect balls of goodness. I wouldn't want to be her though cooking this in the heat of Bangkok. She was also cooking up okonomyaki which is another of my faves.

So when I went to the MBK last time I went to the food court there, so I said to my friend we would go there again. When I got there I somehow ended up at another food court, called 5th Avenue, which was definitely not there when I was there last time, but it looked a whole lot classier. They give you these cards, like credit cards, and then you go around to a station and choose what you want and they put it on the card, and then you pay at the end. Each station was a different type of cuisine too, so you could order as many different types of food that you wanted.

So I ordered some fresh Vietnamese spring rolls for us to share. They looked a bit different from the norm, but thought we would try them anyway. They tasted totally different from what I was used to. These ones had Thai basil in them, which my friend didn't really like. They were nice, but I prefer them the traditional way. I had also read somewhere, can't remember where, about a dish which is served with crispy rice cakes. So when I saw it I just had to get it!

This was so good and so filling and cost me under $2. I was well impressed. The rice cakes came with a Malaysian peanut sauce which had chicken in it, which was delicious. Next stop Chiang Mai!