Thursday, 22 April 2010

Be my guest - Most Memorable Meal, John Lazarou


A series of guest posts where food lovers share memories of a stand-out meal.

Coffee Club king John Lazarou takes us on a food tour of Bangkok and Thailand, proving you can eat at roadside stalls and live to tell the story.

My most memorable meal
I've been fortunate enough to visit Thailand three to four times a year for the past four years now and even more fortunate to experience some of the finest hotels and best restaurants that Thailand has to offer.

During the first few trips my fellow Australian colleagues living in Thailand (ex-pats) played it safe and only took me to fine dining restaurants in five star hotels where most of the menu items are western with a Thai twist.

It didn't take me too long to discover street food, initially I did as I was told by the ex pats and avoided any seafood items from the menu and only ate where there was high foot traffic. It didn't take too long for me to be tempted by all those seafood delicacies I saw being prepared in the street food carts and I thought it was awesome - soft shell crab is my favourite.

Since then I have found the market eateries scattered throughout the country and have never looked back. On my last trip earlier this year we went on a shopping trip to one of the many night markets in Bangkok. I came across an authentic Thai eatery - it was massive, with at least 400 seats and what surprised me with this place was that it only had one central kitchen! My rule of thumb when dining anywhere in the world is to make sure the place is relatively clean but first and foremost the place has to be busy, high turnover means high turnover of stock which in my books means fresh produce.

I was with two Australian friends who were also visiting Thailand and because they regarded me as a regular tourist they allowed themselves to be guided by me, I took on the challenge and entered this eatery. We sat and I ordered the meals as best I could. As with most Asian eateries most of the staff couldn't speak or understand English or very little and although some of the menu was written in English you still had to point to the picture of the meal of your choice.

I ordered some simple Asian greens in dark vinegar and soy sauce, the greens were simple and cooked equally as simple served in a big platter I recognized the Gai Lan and Bok Choy but there was another four or five types of unidentified greens in that platter and I had no idea what they were.

Second course was some sort of wet version of fried rice, it appeared to be normal fried rice with the usual little morsels, shrimp, egg, pork, chicken, peas, and corn, all served in a dome, then the whole lot was covered in some sort of thick gooey seafood-type gravy (very tasty) just poured over the top, seriously delicious.

The third and final course I had ordered was chilly mud crab - three of them. This was prepared beautifully, a combination of all the right spices with the most evident being the basil and chilli, and the sauce was thickened with egg. It was a meal I will never forget because the flavours, freshness and quality of the produce was so fresh; the efficiency of the meals being prepared; and the entire meal and drinks for the three of us cost AUD$68.00!

John Lazarou 


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