Thursday, September 12, 2013

Now That’s Good Curry

People eat on the sidewalk while a tuk-tuk (three wheeled taxi) passes their curry stand. 

Bangkok has an amazing variety of street eats. I’ve read that about 500,000 people are employed the city’s street food industry, which for a city of 14 million (this is a big city) seems like a lot, but who am I to argue? 

I eat almost exclusively street food here. I don’t have a kitchen (just a microwave) so I eat “out” almost every day. I’m not going to restaurants though. I usually have noodles or stir fries at street stalls, perched on a stool on a sidewalk, usually in my neighborhood. 

I have found a new, favorite, place. Sadly, it’s not walking distance from my apartment so I won’t be going as often as I would like. 

A small curry stand in Chinatown, at the corner of Charoen Krung and Mangkon, next to Wat Mangkorn Kammalawat, has the best curry I’ve ever had. Anywhere. 

They have everything from mild massaman curries to fire in your mouth, blister your guts jungle curries. And it’s all delicious. I found it by mistake. I was walking down the street after photographing in a Chinese temple and was drawn by the tableau of people sitting on stools wolfing down their food. This place doesn’t even have tables. 

I made a few photos then moved in for detail photos of the curries and chilies. A server offered me a sample and I was hooked. I ordered what I thought was the spiciest curry, threw in a few more chilies and wolfed down the best curry I’ve ever had. I am not a foodie per se. I don’t know what makes a curry good or bad and I don’t understand the chemistry of cooking. I do know what I like and I really like this curry. 

The family that operates the curry stand makes it in their home, which is up the street, and then haul it down the street in a little cart. They’re so busy at the stand that the curries don’t even have a chance to cool off, as soon as a batch arrives it’s gone. People line up and wait for the curries. The closest comparison I can come up with is Seinfeld’s imaginary Soup Nazi. There is a little bit of that vibe going. (Get in line, pick a curry and take a seat without much small talk, your curry is delivered moments later by an elderly gentleman.)

A single curry, with rice and iced tea is 31B. About .95¢ (US) at today’s exchange rate. Not bad for the best curry in Bangkok, a town that has lots of great curries. In a sit down, air conditioned restaurant in Bangkok this curry would be at least 150B (about $5) even at that price we would rave about what a bargain it is. To put it into an American perspective, this curry is cheaper than a Snickers bar at a 7/11 in the US. And oh so much better. 

Finally, most of the photos in my archive are available for editorial use or self fulfillment as prints. If you see something you'd like to use or just hang on the wall, click on the "Add to Cart" button and follow the onscreen prompts.