Author Archives: Tatpachuen Thaiprasithiporn

Best Non-traditional Thai Food

I enjoy eating. Unlike most food lovers, atmosphere has as much to do with the taste of the food I eat. Food goes to tummy. Atmosphere goes to my brain. Combining the two, they make great dining experience.

My rules: 1) This doesn’t mean it has to be expensive. 2) Food doesn’t need to be fancy. 3) Timing doesn’t need to be right. 4) You don’t have to be hungry to be satisfied.

Personally, I find Chiang Mai one of the most entertaining locations of food finding in the world. Remember, good food and good atmosphere are my things. These two keys translate into ‘great’ in my dictionary. I first got hooked to this city when I was a 16-years-old Chiang Mai University kid. Besides messing around in the city, my friends and I mostly looked for ‘our’ place to eat, and that means majority of the time.

Here are a must-eat list when visiting Chiang Mai: (The following places are still actively in business. Also it’d be nice to have pictures of these places and/or foods, but all my originals are back at home in Thailand. Sorry.)

Kanom-Jeen-Nam-Ya and Nam-Nyeaw near Varoroj Market ( ขนมจีนน้ำยา น้ำเงี้ยวใกล้ตลาดวโรรส ) Venders start setting up their off-the-road tables around 9 pm and will be there until 3 am or later nightly. Two options of sauces to choose from like mentioned at the title, and plenty of fresh garnishes for your dish such as bean sprouts, cabbage and garlic, which generously placed in the middle of a large picnic table. This big picnic table is for the vender to use to prepare their food as well as customer to sit around family-style kind of thing. Shower chairs are used around the table. There is no electric there since the market is already closed, but replaced by candle lights. Very down to earth and very cheap place to eat.

Moo-Tod and Nam-Prick at Varoroj Market (หมูทอดและน้ำพริก ) I don’t remember the shop name, but it is located inside Vororoj Market. Once inside the market, it is hard to miss since the owner of the shop, a fairly big older lady, usually sits in the middle of her freshly made fried pork chop near a very large frying pan with hot oil. This place sells ‘the best’ fried pork chop, variety of traditional Chiang Mai Nam-Pricks, sticky rice, and banana leaf wrapped Moo-Yor (หมูยอห่อใบเตย ). This is a must-go and pick up when traveling to Chiang Mai, and if you are looking for some things to bring back to your friends or love ones, can’t go wrong with this. They will nicely pack the food for you for those who traveling by plane or train if buy in a decent amount.

Noodle shop near Suthep Market behind CMU campus (ก๋วยเตี๋ยวลุงว้าก ) Yes, we call the owner and the main guy loong-wak (screaming uncle) since he is always screaming and yelling. This vender is located near Suthep Market in the night food court. Every single CMU kids knows this place since it is famous for spicy noodle soup with pork, fish and you name it. Loong-Wak is a bold-headed older guy who looks pretty intimidating, but actually very kind. Let’s say you are in with parties of ten. He will take the order, memorize everything by head, then screaming at the cook. And I kid you not, he can remember every single thing you’ve ordered. It doesn’t matter how complicated your orders are (no pork, no soup, extra garlic..etc), he has it all. It also doesn’t matter how many customers he has in the shop. Loong-Wak has them all in order. My friends and I have challenged him with extremely complicated orders in the past, he never fells. You know your foods will be taken care of. Did I mention he is the only one who takes orders in there?

Huay Kaew Ice Cream (ไอศครีมห้วยแก้ว ) If I remember this right, this ice cream shop belongs to one of the Royal projects. This shop is on Huay Kaew Road, located right across the street from Chiang Mai Zoo. Strawberry, Chocolate and Vanilla are only flavors it offers. Why I like this place? The ice cream is very fresh.

Ong Pochana (อ๋องโภชนา ) No, the name only tells one thing—this place sells food located near Pratu Chang Puak (ประตูช้างเผือก ). Anyway, Ong (I figure it’s the name of the owner) is known for fish balls noodle with pork-based soup. Weird combo, huh? Fish balls here are very tasty and they come in super small sizes. (Think Bua-Loy บัวลอย ) The restaurant is off the road and opens nightly between 8pm through 4am. In college, I often stopped by the restaurant during very very late hours for two reasons: the soup (real good) and the waiter (real cute, and happens to be Ong’s son.) Speaking of the waiter, he is the only one in the restaurant who does all the math. Note: Ong’s son talent during check bill time—he will look around the table (approximately 10 seconds) and tell you exactly how much you owe him with no calculator, pen or paper. Never miss it.

Well this will be all for now. Some more to come. I will post more on the next blog. One thing I forgot to mention earlier, this is not traditional Chiang Mai eatery food find since I am honestly not a big fan of northern food (even though lots of folks out there are loving it.)

Not So Politic Talk

Politic and religion—two topics I’ve sworn that will never talk about or if cannot be avoided, I will not be opinionated. I’ve got my reasons.

I’ve started working at a local newspaper here a few years back, and since then, I feel that I have, if not intentionally, placed among the international politic and religion debate for some odd reasons. But from my past experiences, it doesn’t take me anywhere. Too much headaches, so I’ve withdrawn, permanently. But hey, there are a few exceptions.

Here goes to my so-called political point of view (and questions,) related to the situation in the past few days:
• What make some Thais get up in the morning or leave home in the evening so that they can get a snap shot with army tanks? Does it look like a photo sticker machine of some sort?
• It is refreshing to see a family friendly coup for once in a life time, but for some reasons, I feel that it is too sabai-sabai.
• Since we already have this coup thing going on, I hope that Thais will not forget why we have today, what cause it, who cause it, and how to prevent it. The rumor has it—Thais are forgetful.
• So corruption is the problem. Does anyone care what else?
• Shall we revise the definition of democracy for Thai children textbooks?
• Man, that picture of a soldier on the cell phone while a couple of Thais chatting away with another nearby means a thousand word. Love it. To me, if not knowing what is going on, I’d have thought it is the national army meet n’ greet day.
• Love Oakley’s blog. Anyone with me?
• Sorry, this has been a non sense blog from me so far, but I guess I would love to drop a line.

Craving for something?

Hor-Mok, yummy!!!

One of the worst parts of living board is seeking for a ‘good’ Thai food in your area (I only say good instead of great because I don’t have high expectations if you know what I mean.) See I don’t live in a big-time-diverse city like LA, Chicago, or New York, so basically, I’ve settled for an ‘ok’ Thai restaurant in Indianapolis.

The thing is: Thai restaurants around here don’t offer the ‘kind’ of Thai foods I like–
you know those kinds of food we can find basically anywhere in Thailand.

Problem is some times you have that kind of craving, right? The kind of craving when you sit around your house or browsing something online at work, and it just kind of pretty much pops up into your head with no sense of its origin. The only thing that comes to your mind is: “I have gotta have this crap. I really do, and I shall do anything in my power to make this happen.”

See, this kind of mental requirement (and physical somewhat) is a little different than I-am-craving-for-french fries kind of thing. It’s not like you can just start your car and drive to the drive through by the corner of your apartment, then your craving is satisfied. It requires dedication, motivation, and creativity—some things money can’t buy.

Lately, I have been yearning for Hor-Mok, Mueng-Kam and Yum-Pra-Duke-Foo (see pictures.) I really want them, but have little to no idea how to complete this project. So I decided to call around (and yes, don’t really care much about the taste anymore. I can settle for less at this point) to see if any Thai restaurants in Indy have at least one of these foods on their menus. Seven phone calls later, I’ve got three types of answer: “Well, it takes too much time to prepare, so we don’t have it,” or “We don’t make it. Americans don’t like these kinds of food,” or “Nope, we just don’t make them because they are too Thai for customers.”

Oh! Come on. Those foods are awesome. I wonder if nobody decides to initiate new Thai cuisine to customers (who some probably never had Thai foods from anywhere else outside Indianapolis before,) how do you claim they will not like it? So I asked one of the restaurant owners if she can at least give me recipe for Hor-Mok, she simply tells me she cannot give it out since it is her family recipe. (yep! Even though she does not plan to include that in the menu some times soon.)

How great! So I move on to the next available source—online search engine (again, I am a Thai, and yes, I still need to look up for a recipe for Thai foods alright!) and jotted down an infamous recipe from a random website then headed to an Asian market nearby. Note: the worst time for grocery shopping is when you are hungry. Anyone with me?

Five hours later at home, I realized the Hor-Mok would never make to its completion without a proper steamer (which ain’t sold somewhere within 50 miles radius from where I live.) I then set a broiler, threw my Hor-Mok stuff in a heat-resistant bowl, and basically steamed it. Turning out, the so-called Hor-Mok is eatable, but to share the food with somebody else, it will not happen some times soon.

At the moment, I pondered…life would have been much easier if I lived in Thailand.

Thai Girls

Let’s see—Thai girls. I guess I have just found another solution for us to overcome the whole Thai-whore-stereotype kind of issue today. And really, I know, we all have been dealing with this skeptical/ stupid/ ignorant marks for so many years now, but the problem is: will you let it get to your head at some point?

In the most part, I have forgiven and let go those anger towards some stupid people who would make even more stupid comments without even try to use their little waves in the brain to process. I believe if one is willing to live in their own, again, stupid little world, then more power to them. But what kill me most is that: even among Thais, some also perceive this concept the same way as the outsider for some reasons.

A few years back, my boyfriend, Dan, and I visited Thailand. Since it was his first time so we decided to go to the usual places—temples, palace, silom roads for goods, and yes, Pattaya. While we were overwhelmed by knock-off price of DVDs along Silom, I heard (and all of these were in Thai): “Hey! Will you bring your customer over here?” So I looked over to the origin of the question. There he was: a guy working at a go-go bar waving at me with big smiles. “What? Are you talking to me?” I shot back, so he said, “Yes! I mean you. Why don’t you ask your customer to come in here, and I will share the commission with you?” At that point, I wasn’t mad, but kind of having this what-da-xxxx gesture going on, so I said, “Hey! I am not a hooker!”

The next day we drove to Pattaya, and the purpose of this trip was to give Dan some experiences of what has been shown in a traveling channel back in the States. We were walking along the beach, and the next thing I knew was that there was a man poking on my shoulder and asked: “How long are you gonna be here with him?” So I was like, “Huh?” The man shot back at me: “Sorry, I mean: did he rent you monthly, weekly or daily because if it’s weekly, I can offer you some discounts at my motel, and we can share the profit. What do you think?”

Really, readers, I have nothing to offer as a hooker. I don’t do hand holding and the whole rub-him-up-and-down thing either. I don’t dress hooker-rish unless you consider a loose t-shirt, a pair of jeans, and flip-flops as factors. I believe it was the guy whom I was with cause all these problems—a Farang and a Thai to be exact.

The worst part is: even my mom is afraid people will take me in a wrong way. She was so concerned then and told me not to walk with Dan around…errr…basically everywhere we went.

So the day after Pattaya, we drove to Rayong hoping to check into a fancy/ peaceful hotel. The front desk girl whisper into my ear, and I remember it was on my right, that this hotel did not take a prostitute in. Now you do not want me to say what happened between me and that receptionist.

Aside from the fact that we, Thai girls, know who we are, the bottom line is that, I believe, if we Thais as a whole—men, women, gays, young, old, doesn’t matter—still perceive our very own Thai women this way, what can we expect from the others? Thais’ attitude must change whether you like it or not, and we all can push other opinions on the side. Solution to delete the stereotype? I’m not sure. If some people are willing to remain stupid, I guess there is nothing you can do about it. Like someone once said: “I may be fat, but I can lose weights, but you are stupid, I’m not sure you can change that.”

(Note: I’m aware of the content that is not very family friendly, and promise will be more calm next time.)

When Name Change is not an Option, Then What?

I find myself start writing the second blog in less than a week after the first one, but I believe I can use some helps with my ‘personal’ problem related to my ridiculously long Thai name and last name.

Generally, Thai names are pretty long, especially when spelled out in English. Growing up in Thailand, when I was in pre-school age; I had no clue how to spell my first name—let alone last name. There are 10 letters on my first name and a total of 16 letters on my last. I remember eying my friend sitting nearby, hoping to copy their name. I had done that for a while until the teacher called for a meeting with my parents to address ‘the concern.’ “Your daughter cannot spell her own name and we hope you guys can help her at home,” that’s what the teacher recommended my parents.

At Satit Prasanmitr Elementary School, I wore the school uniform, which required students to have their name sewn on the top left of their shirt. My mom took me to this vendor near Phahurat to pick up the uniform. I remember we had always had to stay a little longer because either they misspelled my name or we got charged a little extra for labor. When living in Thailand, my name didn’t really bug me since it is common for Thais to have long names, but things have changed when I arrived to the U.S.

It started off with an Immigration officer at Chicago airport who was so amazed with my extended version of human’s name. He raised his eye brows, said a couple of “wow” then looked at me. The human instinct in him drove him to ask me how my name was pronounced. So I pronounced. I remember pronouncing my name aloud several times, and of course, he couldn’t say it.

Later on, this similar incident has been happening on a regular basis. Whether I go to a gas station, bank, driver license branch and basically anywhere I’m required to use a credit card and/ or driver license with my whole name on it. People seem to ask me the same questions over and over. It goes like this:
Other: “Wow! Your name is so long” while looking at my card and my face.
Me: “Yup!”
Other: “How can you say it?”
Me: “Er…Don’t worry about it.”
Other: “C’mon…will you say your name for me?”
Me: “Okay…………………………………..”
Other: “Wow! I will never be able to say that.”
Me: “Okay…..Can I get my card back please?”

It is getting better. The worst part is: when one person sees my name, she or he seems not to be able to control themselves. They will ask their friends nearby to look at it. Everyone makes the same gestures…the same exact gesture, and makes the same comment. One time I went to a hospital to get a CT scan, the radiologist saw my name and asked her colleagues in the room to look at my name. We are talking about 8-10 people here—RN, ENT, more radiologists and some MDs. At that moment, I felt like sitting in a zoo, and yes, I was the one in the cage.

After years have gone by, I start getting irritated. (If some of you don’t get it, think about what if you have to pronounce your name to strangers whom you will never meet again on the daily basis.) It starts to bug me so bad.

I am aware that these people just ask out of their curiosity, which there is nothing wrong on that. But I am the victim here. Every day new people will ask me to say my name, which I don’t see any benefit of cooperation. The worst part? I can’t really get mad at an innocent stranger, can I.

I will not take name changes as an option. I love my name and will never change it to make it convenient for those strangers. And for your record, nickname doesn’t cut here. These people who ask don’t know me, so they don’t care what my nickname is. Any clue what I am supposed to do?