After a hectic morning of touring remarkable temples, whose grandeur and beauty rival Russia’s Church of Spilled Blood, Cha Cha assured me that our lunch spot will be air-conditioned and tourist-free. I should say that Thailand is on the verge of its hot season where temperatures are normally an oppressive 100+ degrees. However, in April of last year, Thailand experienced a monsoon that left the bulk of Bangkok submerged and the city without electricity for nearly a month. Cha Cha tells me that the Thai are resourceful — they learned to adjust their dishes to accommodate canned food (e.g. tuna, vegetables) — and the living by candlelight was romantic. She’s wistful as she regales this story, and I admire her because I know we would stomp, complain and riot if our lights were snuffed out for more than a week. Yet, Cha Cha reminded me that it’s more important to enjoy life, food, and family.
Funny how the glaringly obvious is dressed up anew.
But a woman digresses! Cha Cha took me to Metha Valai Sorndaeng, an eatery overlooking the Democracy Monument that serves up old-world decor and sumptuous, traditional Thai fare. As soon as I sat down I was greeted with a BOOK of ala carte options. Turning each page, I found that a simple lunch decision had morphed into the Riddle of the Sphinx. After a minor squabble over the fact that I don’t eat fish (Cha Cha is a feisty one, I tell you), I broke down and sampled duck in red curry (LOVED the curry, hated the duck, as I anticipated), a delectable plate of deep-fried seasoned chicken (brief aside: I gushed so much in the market, a local struck up a conversation with me, pointed at the chicken and said, BETTER THAN KFC!), an OUT-OF-THIS-WORLD sautéed spicy beef and thai basil (queue the fire extinguisher for my larynx, please), and possibly a dessert that rivals THE COOKIE:
BUTTERY-RIPE MANGO AND COCONUT MILK STICKY RICE.
You guys. I can’t. I mean, I simply cannot. And I’m irate that my camera does not even do this dessert justice. I nearly wrestled the fork out of Cha Cha’s hands (KIDDING) it was that good. Never have I had mango this ripe (cut and eat from the center of the mango, first, Cha Cha says!) and who knew that rice in coconut milk could be SO GOOD.
Anyway, if you’re in Bangkok, looking for live music and delectable, authentic Thai cuisine, check out Metha Valai Sorndaeng!