SPICEGASM.COM My travel tales and food hunting

November 4, 2010

Moo Kata – favorite Thai past time

Filed under: Bars & Resto,Food,Thailand,Travel — Alex @ 6:12 pm

Entrance of Family Bar-B-Q Moo Kata

Moo Kata is probably one of the most popular get together meal among the Thai. Moo Kata means pork skillet and some Thai friend’s told me is pork pan. The price is cheap and the value for the meal is just incredible. For those of you who are not familiar with moo kata, it is something similar to hot pot and BBQ at the same time.

I don’t think I can put the cooking device of moo kata in words, so I’m just going to post a picture so that you can see it for yourself.

Okay, this is how the moo kata cooking device looks like. On the center, is like a dome with some space that shaped like long lines. Below the dome is where hot charcoal are burnt to cook the meat. Surrounding the dome is a space where water or broth are stored. It’s not really deep but kind of shallow. A kettle of soup is provided for you to keep adding water.

When the waiter brings you the moo kata pan, a piece of pork lard is provided and it’s normally placed at the center of the dome. The pork lard will then melt and produced oil and drips from the top of the dome down to the broth area. This actually allows the dome to oil up so that when you place meat onto the dome, meat will not stick to it and burn. The oil from the pork lard and drips into the soup and this makes the broth even tastier.

The soup area is good for cooking fish balls, meat balls and vegetables. Initially I found the cooking method of moo kata a little bit odd as the dome area is kinda small for you to put your choice of meat. My meat kept falling into the soup and I have to use my chopstick to put back my fallen meat onto the dome. This will make my meat not so crispy like normal BBQ grill. The shallow area for the broth was also odd to me compared to normal hot pot pan. But after looking at the other table, the Thai people were very skillful in placing the meat on top of the dome. They can stack the meat on a few layers and the meat will not fall.

Looking at our next table, I get the feeling that the meat weren’t supposed to be really crisp like BBQ. I am guessing that the method of cooking the meat is more like making smoke meat. Having good skills with chopstick is definitely an essential aspect of eating moo kata in a large group. Everybody was doing their part in stacking and flipping the meats.

Meat balls, fish ball, vegetables and some sort of sea plants. All this are to be cook in the broth area.

Choice of pork, chicken and beef to be smoked moo kata style

Family Bar-B-Q Moo Kata Ratchada

The moo kata restaurant that we went to was situated near Huang Kwang mrt station. It is known to many as Family Bar-B-Q moo kata in Ratchada. The price for per person is 109 Bht excluding drinks. It is served buffet style and you can eat as much as you want. Besides all the raw food that you need to cook yourself, the restaurant also serves fried noodles, fried rice, fried sausage, green curry vegetable with plain rice, sushi like rice rolls. As for the raw food selection you have chicken, beef, pork, innards ( pork liver ), sausage, fish balls , meat balls, shells and some funky sea plants.

Around the sauce area ( they have a wide selection of sauces for meat and seafood ), they have a Thai device for you to make the famous papaya salad ( som tam ). All the ingredients are there for you to add and mix yourself. This could be quite a task for foreigners who has no idea what are the best mixture to make a tasty som tam.

Food area and there’s also a wide selection of Thai dessert and ice cream

This place is huge and I think it can easily sits 500 of patrons, maybe even more. We went around 10.30 pm that day and most people has already finished eating. If you were to go at 7pm, you will probably be given a number and wait to be seated. Is really packed during dinner time.

Customer looking really satisfied and full or is he just taking a break before continue eating. Is buffet style anyways.

Our bill came to around 400 Baht for the 2 of us. We order few bottles of water and few bucket of ice. In Thailand they normally charge for ice cubes. I still think with the big selection of food, the price is extreme reasonable. The whole process of dining moo kata with a group of large friends normally takes around 2 – 2.30 hours. While cooking the food, friends can catch up with each other. We heard loud laughter all around the tables as friends were joking with each other. Eating moo kata will definitely put you in a very cheerful mood as you know you will never burn a hole in your pocket. I highly recommend moo kata to everyone who will be visiting Thailand.

November 3, 2010

Leng Kee restaurant Pattaya

Filed under: Bars & Resto,Food,Thailand,Travel — Alex @ 3:00 pm

Leng Kee Restaurant Pattaya

On the day that we are supposed to go to Bangkok, I wanted to try to eat something really nice in Pattaya. Since we have no tour guide and I did not search the Internet for information, I decided to go on a hunt instead. Most of the time, I have the nose for a good restaurant or food stall. I take pride in identifying good food joints in places that are unknown to me. Is really a great feeling when you are spot on, especially when you are with friends. You get to act like a smug and beam with a grin that makes people want to give you a slap. But since you found them a good place to eat, they normally hold back the desire to give you a smack.

While riding on a tuk tuk, I kept my eyes open and look left and right. I finally saw a restaurant and I just had this feeling that this place will be good. One of the easiest way to spot a good place is when you see there’s a lot of people but it is by no means 100% guaranteed. When I spotted this restaurant, it does not have many customers at that time. My instinct just tell me that this place is good, period. I don’t really know how I managed to do it all the time but the best way to explain it is for you to read the book by Malcolm Gladwell, Blink.

After many eating excursions with Zach, he officially made me the food hunter. I can’t recall where there’s a time where my recommendation or instinct failed me when I’m with him or other friends. ( *beaming* ). So there’s no objection from Zach that the restaurant that I spotted will be our destination for lunch. I was so confident with myself that this place will be good that I just snapped the pictures before crossing the road. The name of the restaurant is Leng Kee.

I love restaurant that has no air condition. Some how eating in a natural environment appeals to me. But Leng Kee does have an area with air condition too. Since it is a pretty hot day, Zach suggested that we sit inside. I agreed and since is the afternoon and pretty hot day, natural environment can take a back seat for now. Lol.

Leng Kee air cond section

This is the deep fried crab meat with minced pork wrapped in dried tofu skin. It taste really good when you dip it into some sweet chili sauce. Is best to strike it when it just came out from the wok. Smoke will come out from your mouth and it is a skill to juggle the fried meat ball in your mouth to avoid burning your tongue.

Stir fry shell with chili and spices. I have no idea what is the exact name in English for this type of shell. It is different from cockles or oyster. The Cantonese people call it “lala”.

How can Zach not order his favorite Thai dish, the Panang Moo. Leng Kee style of cooking is different from other panang that I’ve tasted. Is still good but I to admit if someone order this without my knowledge and ask me to name the type of cooking, I will not guess it as panang.

We ordered this sour and spicy Thai soup because we just wanted something different. Is not that we are fed up of Tom Yum ( no one can get fed up with TomYum ) but we just wanted something different on that day. I’ve eaten this soup many times but still don’t know what’s the name of the soup. Most of the time I just point at the picture on the menu. The soup is quite similar to Tom Yum soup but I guess is minus the tom yum paste. It reminded me of some Isaan soup that I’ve eaten before. So if any of you who are knows the name of the soup and reading this post, please leave a comment on what’s the real name of this delicious Thai soup.

Leng Kee really does serve good Thai-Chinese cuisine. The taste of all the dishes are really good. It cost us slightly over 500 baht for 4 dishes. I think Leng Kee is an old establishment and the business wass started by a Chinese migrant with a very small stall. Then it expanded and became a big family run restaurant. Don’t quote me on this as I am only guessing based on what I felt when I dined in that restaurant. I would love to find out if my guesses are correct. But one think I do know, Zach would love to smack me on my face when we took our first bite. I just had that smugness on my face again.

November 2, 2010

Yakuza Burger on Walking Street

Filed under: Bars & Resto,Food,Thailand,Travel — Alex @ 12:20 pm

Yakuza Burger near Walking Street Pattaya

After taking a quick shower, we discussed on what to eat before meeting up with Dean and a few more friends that are based in Pattaya. Zach told me about this burger joint that he ate before and really liked it. The name of the burger joint is Yakuza Burger. Zach knows very well that I’m not into fast food or fancy restaurant that served Western cuisine. Since we have been eating Asian food all the time, maybe is time to be considerate and let Zach eat some farang(white folks in Thai ) food. After all the burger joint is just a little booth and not a fancy restaurant. So Yakuza Burger it is for tonight.

Four Season Place hotel provide transport for the guest around Pattaya town. We took the free transport that is a special designed tuk tuk to go to Walking Street. The ride was just 10 minutes. Walking Street is a popular destination for many tourist around the world. It is famous for bars and also Thai bargirls. Since this is a PG13 blog, no bars reviews are allowed here.

Yakuza burger operator preparing the burgers

Beef burger patty and fish fillet on the grill

My cheese burger with french fries

I actually kinda glad that we ate burgers for that night. Sometimes is good for the stomach to take a break from all the spiciness. To me, burgers are mild in terms of taste. It lacks the punch like most Asian cuisine which uses a lot of spices. The key to make a good burger lies on the beef patty in my opinion. The meat gotta be juicy with some fats in it. I’ve no idea what is used to marinate the beef patty but my guess is 2-3 different spices. Then you need to serve it with fresh bread that is not dry, lettuce, tomatoes, onions and cucumber. I’m sure getting fresh fresh lettuce, tomatoes and so on is a no brainer. So comparatively, making a good burger is easier than making a good curry or Tom Yum soup. That’s just my opinion anyways. Don’t mind me if you are into burgers and not Asian cuisine. But for the record, I did enjoy Yakuza Burger.

October 31, 2010

La Lune food stall near St 51

Filed under: Bars & Resto,Cambodia,Food,Travel — Alex @ 2:40 am

I woke up around 10am the next day after hanging out in Heart Of Darkness disco last night. Free breakfast buffet will end in 30 minutes and I decided not to rush and skip breakfast. Will just order room service instead. It was raining quite heavily and the roads were flooded. By noon the rain stopped and the flood slowly subsided.

I told Eddie and Zach that our mission for dinner tonight is to look for the food stall that sells those lovely fried goodies. So far the information given to me by the waiter in HOD is that the stall is located across the road from the club. I know the street number which is St 51 as I took a business card from the club supervisor.

Come dinner time we got ourselves a tuk tuk and head on to street 51. When we stopped in HOD, we noticed there’s a few food stalls and a big food court. Last night while leaving the club, we did not notice all these establishments. I think you can guess why we did not see all the food stalls. So we walked around the food court and some stalls. I did not see any stalls that are selling the pork ribs and chicken wings.

I saw a stall with pictures of burgers and hotdog. As I walked closer to the stall, I remembered the nice aroma and pictures of fried chicken wings and pork ribs. I never would have guess that this burger stall will be offering the fried goodies.

La Lune food stall

Crappy pictures that I took of La Lune food stall. From far  I can see the big ass pictures of a burger and a hotdog. That’s why I never suspected that it was the same stall that produced those aromatic fried goodies.

The dude that runs La Lune food stall is a very friendly guy that goes by the name of Chheang. He gave me a name card and on it, it is stated that the stall has been operational since 2003. It also provides delivery service.

He suggested us to go to a restaurant nearby to get our seat and he will deliver the food to us. He told us as long we order some food from the other restaurant it will be all right. We followed his suggestion and went to a non fancy restaurant nearby ( my kind of restaurant ).

This simple restaurant sells seafood, rice dishes and also noodle dishes. I have no idea how the food will taste like but this is part of the process to discover new eating joints. We ordered some drinks and food from this restaurant while waiting for our fried food from La Lune.

The messy looking restaurant

Boiled cockles ( a type of shell ) with lime and chili dip. I love cockles ever since as a kid. In Singapore, the famous Char Kway Teow is not complete if there’s no cockles in it. Zach find the word cockles really hilarious.

Some Khmer style fried noodles that cost me USD1

Khmer beef noodle at USD1.20

The food served in this simple restaurant was all right. Boiled cockles is boiled cockles, no skills is needed to make this dish. The flavor of the cockles is stronger than fresh raw oysters. Not really a hit with Westerner for sure. As for the beef  noodle soup, it lacked a certain lemony or celery taste to the soup. I think I would prefer the Vietnam version of Pho. However I do enjoy the fried noodle very much. It taste is really good and the portion of Kailan given was very generous. It is fried in a way that is semi wet and the sauce and the egg made the noodle taste really good.

This is the main reason why we came back to St 51 for. The very tasty pork ribs and it cost us USD2. The portion is more but we ate a few before taking some pictures.

One more close up pork ribs picture for you

I have no idea what spices was used to make these fried meat. The chicken wings tasted good ( forgot to snap some pics ) but it is not as juicy as the pork ribs. Pork ribs tend to have more fat and this is the reason why it is juicier than the wings. There is a thin layer of caramelize mixture of sugar and spices that covers the pork ribs. The balance of the spices and frying time of the ribs make it perfect. Is not overly sweet, spicy or salty. I don’t really know how to describe it. You have to taste it for yourself.

We also ordered few 3 bottles of mineral water and 2 can of coke aside from the cockles and noodle dishes from the simple restaurant. From La Lune we ordered 2 portions of fried pork ribs, one portion of chicken wings. Everything comes to a total of USD12. I’m sure there are places where you can get cheaper food in the street of Phnom Penh but I can’t complain for the price that we paid especially when the pork ribs is heavenly good.

Here is the contact number of La Lune food stall :

012 728 638 / 016660 208 – Chheang

October 29, 2010

Chinese restaurant in Phnom Penh

Filed under: Bars & Resto,Cambodia,Food,Travel — Alex @ 4:14 am

There are many Chinese restaurants in Phnom Penh and my friend Eddie always frequent this Chinese restaurant call Yee Boo. It is just a walking distance away from our hotel ( Hotel Cara ). Eddie can’t stop promoting to us how good the Claypot Mutton dish to us. So Chinese cuisine it is for dinner.

The spacious and luxurious balcony

The Chinese Restaurant named Yee Bo is operating in a very big old colonial bungalow. When I set foot into the restaurant, I had this imagination that this mansion used to belong to the French who used to occupy Cambodia for quite sometime. After the French left, probably one of the Khmer Rouge biggies lived in this mansion. After changing ownerships several decades, it is now finally occupy by the boss of this Chinese restaurant name Yee Bo. All these of course are just my imaginations which by the way I tend to do always.

The boss of Yee Bo seems to recognize Eddie and they exchanged pleasantries. The boss also said said hello to Zach and asked where he is from. Asian restaurant owners tend to get excited when they see Westerners patronizing their restaurants. I wonder if the Western restaurant owners will react the same when they see Asian folks dining in their joint.

Eddie told the waitress that he wanted to sit upstairs in a huge balcony. I loved the idea instantly as I loved eating outdoors or semi outdoors. I don’t really fancy eating in air condition places. Outdoor dining also allows me to smoke while having my food and normally a few glasses of beer.

Chicken feet with peanuts soup

The supervisor of  Yee Bo is a lady who speaks fluent Cantonese, which is a Chinese dialect Eddie and I are accustom with. So ordering our food was easy. We ordered the Claypot Mutton, mixed platter of Pork Ribs ( Siew Yoke ) with Chinese BBQ POrk ( Char Siew ) and Kangkung Belacan.

Most Chinese restaurant offers soup of the day for free. The cost to make the soups are normally pretty low. This doesn’t mean the soups will be inferior in taste. A good Chinese soup normally uses pig bones and chicken bones and boil with some other herbs.

We were given the free soup of the day which is the Chicken Feet with Peanut. When the soup arrived on our table, I scooped the soup to see what’s beneath it. Zach saw what I was doing and he suddenly said “Whaohh….is that a baby hand in there?”. Eddie started laughing hysterically looking at Zach’s reaction.

Roast Pork Platter

The roasted pork platter was just all right for me. Nothing really spectacular like those that I’ve eaten in Hong Kong. I ordered it specially for our Western friend as he prefers to eat meat without any bones attached to the meat. The skin area I normally prefers it to be thicker and crunchy.

Claypot Mutton Ribs

Eddie was spot on with his recommendation. I really loved this mutton dish. It is stew slowly in a claypot with shitake mushrooms, radish and Chinese beancurd. Star anise is being used to give this dish a nice taste and fragrant. The meat is so soft and tender and as you bite the meat, it just fall off from the bones easily. I dipped it in my soya sauce mixed with chopped garlic and chili and the taste is simply heavenly. Absolutely divine!

The kangkung belacan dish ( stir fry morning glory in shrimp paste ) was good too. Upon tasting it I can tell the chef is from Malaysia. I further confirmed it by asking the supervisor and I was proven right. We were given some watermelon for dessert after our meal. Total price for our dinner was USD21. I think is really cheap considering the service was excellence. There’s a waitress filling up our tea whenever our cups are empty. She was there the whole time!!!! If any of you happen to be in Phnom Penh and would like to try out the Claypot Mutton Ribs dish, here is the phone number of Yee Bo Restaurant – Tel : 023-430 598 / 015 – 231 888. I can’t provide the address of the restaurant as it is in Chinese and I don’t read Chinese.

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