Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays from Silom Soi 4, aka Bangkok Boy's Town.

I'm back. For better and for worse. It's a joy to see family again and to have a conversation in non-broken English. And the taxi ride from JFK, with the view of New York City lit up at night and a big yellow scoop of moon hanging over Jersey City, had me in awe. That never gets old for me.
Then, mistake #1, I went to the mall and noticed everyone is big, horizontally and/or vertically (self included), and seems to be wearing some variation on the sweatpant. Mistake #2, I tried to buy lemongrass and galangal and had only 49% success.

Stay warm, be merry and see many of you in the new year.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Mosburger, originally uploaded by leahjunekim.

China Airlines handed out Mosburgers during snack service. Mosburger
is a popular chain around Taipei, but I never ate there so I don't
know what their full menu looks like. This concoction is curried pork
and onions getting all cozy with two lightly grilled sticky rice
cakes. 7-11's also serve a similar burger, which I think is brilliant
because the bun never gets soggy. It's a heck of a lot of rice,
though, especially for a "snack." I would eat this at 2AM after a
night of drinking in an instant.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

They Still Think I'm Japanese, but That Doesnt Mean It's Not Awesome

I've only been in Taipei for 10 hours and my head and stomach are about to explode. I went to the Shihlin Night Market, the largest night market in the city to check out the scene and get dinner. I can safely say that Taipei wins the Southeast Asian Food and Shopping Olympics hands down. Variety and tastiness everywhere. The one thing I didn't try was choudofu, fermented tofu that is deep fried so you get a crispy skin and soft melting inside. Supposedly it's in the family of foods like the durian that smell horrible but taste amazing.

It really does smell bad -- sour with a sticky, bouncy base note of funky gym clothes. After eating pan fried buns, tako yaki, a piece of fried chicken the length of my arm and bubble tea with fresh milk (all for 165 NT or a little more than $5) I thought I would accidentally throw up if I put fermented tofu in my mouth.

And all this after an amazing last night in Bangkok running around with my friend Peter eating the best pad thai in the city hands down at Thip Samet, chowing on fried king fish and chicken at the tranquil Just One (thanks Dave Ly!), then attacking a jug of margarita at Tapas club and finishing the evening with a visit to a fish spa to have tiny fish peck at my feet and saying farewell to Khao San road with a falafel sandwich at 4:30 AM.

I'm officially spending two hours at the gym tomorrow. The Sheraton Taipei is my new favorite place. The gym has a view of the mountains and the city skyline. And HBO. I am a very happy camper.

Time to go roll around on the king size bed now. I hope it's big enough to fit me.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Hello Goodbye

I'm in Bangkok for my last night. Everyone still thinks I'm Japanese.
I even had a guy from Korea ask me if I was from Japan. Then, the
security guard at the SkyTrain yelled at me and waved me over to a
side gate. He thought I was pregnant and didn't want me to go through
the turnstile. Ouch.

So it's with trepidation that I leave tomorrow morning for Taipei,
Taiwan for a two day stop. From what I've read so far, food in Taiwan
might be even more amazing than Bangkok, which is a city with food
exploding from it's pores.

Goodbye, goodbye, Thailand. Until we meet again.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Mystery Food of Hoi An, Vietnam

This lady encapsulates what is amazing and frustrating about Vietnam. I think most guidebooks miss the cool stuff because knowing about the cool stuff means knowing the face of this lady, who walks down Nguyen Thai Hoc street in Hoi An around 4PM everyday. Things operate on a personal level and knowing family relationships and networks is vital to doing business. I don't know how any tourist could crack this in a week or two.

Anyways, I watched her walk down the street, pot and condiments balanced on one side and upside down bowls tiered between trays on the other. She sat down on the curb and then all the shopkeepers came out and got a tray with bowls and took it back to their shops. They ate, brought the trays and bowls back, and she walked down the street 15 meters and it happened all over again. The bowls have a congealed "stuff" on the bottom made from the same batter as rice noodles and it's topped with a gravy, ground chili, fried wheat noodles (which are common in Hoi An, chewy and hearty like a thick pasta) and fish sauce.

She charged me 5000 dong for one small bowl, which I finished in 30 seconds. You really need at least 5-10 to make a meal out of it.

Hoi An, Vietnam, originally uploaded by leahjunekim.