Whirlwind weekend in Bangkok

RAZZLE-DAZA - Pat-P Daza - The Philippine Star
Whirlwind weekend in Bangkok
First meal in Bangkok is a 2.7kg Alaskan king crab from Jumbo seafood restaurant, sending this columnist to food heaven.

First things first: Merry Christmas, dear reader! Thank you for the time you spare reading about the colorful places I visit, the delicious foods I eat, and the fascinating people I meet in the wonderful journey that is life! 

This week’s piece is about a trip to Thailand I went on with five friends to take advantage of the long Immaculate Conception weekend. Our Thai Airways flight left Manila Thursday, Dec. 7, at 1:10 p.m. and arrived in Bangkok at 3:45 p.m. local time. We breezed through immigration and collected our luggage in under 40 minutes and by 4:30 p.m. were on our way to our hotel. Though our service van driver said it would take us 45 minutes to an hour because it was rush hour, to our horror, it took us two hours to get to our hotel. The last 15 minutes were so frustrating because we could already see our hotel from the van, and we were so tempted to walk since it would be quicker. But since our luggage was in the van, we had to sit through the traffic.

Hot, piping and spicy tom yum soup from Kub Kao Kub Pla.

When we finally got to our hotel, The Kempinski, we checked in and freshened up before meeting again in the lobby to head off for dinner. By this time, we were all famished and craving for authentic Thai cuisine. After all, the main reason for this quick getaway was to have our fill of delicious Thai food. We decided to just go to Siam Paragon mall which was directly across our hotel, but the Thai restaurant we wanted to dine at was full and there was a 30-minute wait. After looking around, we decided on Jumbo seafood restaurant, which is a Singaporean franchise famous for its chili crabs.

Beef sirloin green curry from Nara.

Our server suggested we start off with seafood beancurd soup and salted egg fish skin, which were divine treats for our party of six very hungry customers! Bamboo clams, fried shrimp and spinach with garlic followed, with the “piece de resistance” being a 2.7 kg Alaskan king crab! The crab was halved and cooked in two styles: one half was in chili sauce and served with mantau bread, while the other was salt and pepper. Both styles were oh-so-delectable…the crab was fresh, succulent, meaty and tasty, and I was in food heaven!

Deep fried pomfret fish with lots of garlic — delicious!

After dinner, we went to the grocery store to buy fruits to bring to our hotel rooms. We ended up buying a few very large green mangoes that were crunchy and sweet, and best enjoyed with salt that is similar to champuy salt. We then headed back to the hotel to get a good night’s sleep so we could start early the following day.

The next day, Friday, some of us opted to visit Platinum Fashion mall for a dose of retail therapy. Before the others went off to do their own thing, we decided to just meet up for dinner at 6 p.m. in Paragon mall. I was very happy with my purchases, which consisted of a few knitted shirts and sleepwear for my daughter, winter clothes for my son (who is going on a holiday trip soon) and Christmas gifts for a few friends.

Knowing traffic would be horrendous, we decided to have dinner at nearby Kub Kao Kub Pla restaurant at Paragon. Good thing we got there early enough because it was a “mere” 10-minute wait for a table. I never fail to visit Kub Kao Kub Pla whenever I am in Bangkok because the food is consistently very good and reasonably priced. We ordered all our favorites: crab omelet, phad thai, catfish salad, papaya salad, green chicken curry, tom yum, and deep-fried sea bass with fish sauce. Of course, we also had Thai milk tea to go with our meal.

After dinner, we walked to Big C. It was the biggest supermarket in the area, and that’s where we did our pasalubong shopping. My buys included bags of sampaloc, dried fruits, and nasal inhalers. And because we were feeling somewhat adventurous that night (and lazy to walk), we took a tuktuk back to the hotel.

The next day, we headed to the Gentle Woman flagship store in Siam Square to see what the fuss was about. We had heard stories that there’s a line just to enter the store of this Thai fashion brand known for its bags and clothes, so our curiosity was piqued. Fortunately, there was no line when we got there. We browsed for less than an hour and I walked out with three bags to give as gifts.

Later in the afternoon, we decided to pamper ourselves with a body massage at the hotel. After all, a trip to Bangkok isn’t complete without one. We each had the relaxing 90-minute massage with lots of hard kneading, after which I felt invigorated and ready for dinner.

After our massage, we chose Nara restaurant for our last Thai dinner. We ordered chicken in herbal coconut soup, pomelo salad, deep-fried fish cakes, beef sirloin green curry, pandan chicken, deep fried pomfret fish (pompano) with lots of garlic, peppercorn and herbs, all of which were delightful!

The next day, we flew back to Manila, feeling a bit overweight from all the eating but grateful for the short break. 

Here’s to more happy trips and flavorful food tripping for all in 2024!

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