By Tana Kosiyabong
After a few days in Bangkok, I decided to take a trip to Ayutthaya, an ancient capital of Thailand. Located just an hour north of Bangkok, the old city is perfect for a day trip. Ayutthaya Kingdom (sometimes spelled Ayuddhaya) existed from 1351 to 1767. According to Wikipedia, the city was once comparable to Paris in both size and wealth. Sadly, the once glorious kingdom was reduced into ruins and debris by the Burmese invasion in the last year of its existence.
Although a day trip wasn’t enough to explore this ancient civilization, it was all I could spare. Fortunately, my brother, Atch, lent me a car and a chauffeur, Sommai, so I could have a hassle-free trip.
Due to my jet-lagged, Sommai and I headed off to Ayutthaya at almost 11 am, quite late for a day trip. Around lunch time, we reached the outskirt of Ayutthaya. So I asked Sommai to find a place to eat first. “Somewhere next to the river,” I added. After a bit of drive around, we found a restaurant called “Pae Krung Kao Floating Restaurant.”
“This is perfect,” I told Sommai (in Thai, of course) as we walked down to the river bank, then jump onto one of the floating pallets. The view of the Pasak river was mesmerizing. A few Thai style houses were built along the both sides of the river. Apart from the motor boats and a few hi-rise buildings sticking out like sore thumbs, this place was still pretty much frozen in time.
After perusing the menu, we decided to order Pla Nam Ngen Pad Cha (Stir-fried fish with Thai spices–$4), Yum Woon Sen (Thai Spicy Cellophane Noodle Salad–$2.67) and Gang Kheow Wan Loog Chint Pra Grai Khai Khem (Fish Ball Stuffed with Salted egg in Green Curry–$2.67) and two plates of steamed rice ($0.66)
Not too long after, Pla Nam Ngen Pad Cha was served. “Pad Cha” is a spicy Thai stir-fried dish normally cooked with fish or shellfish. Pla Nam Ngen is a local freshwater fish found in the nearby river. They were deep-fried until crispy, then stir-fry with krachai (a kind of Thai herbs), fresh peppercorn, Thai basil and chili peppers to mask the fishy smell. The dish was tasty and spicy as it should be. However, the abundant bones in the fish made it a bit difficult to eat.
Yum Woon Sen is one of my favorite Thai dishes. The cellophane noodles were tossed in with the Thai salad dressing (Lime juice, fish sauce, Thai chili peppers, and sugar), Chinese celery, red shallots, shrimp and ground pork. Pae Krung Kao’s Yum Woon Sen was a bit too sweet for my taste. If this dish were a Harry Potter book, the lime flavor would be Harry Potter himself. The heat from chili peppers would be Lord Voldermort. The saltiness from the fish sauce were either Ron or Hermione. And the sweetness would perhaps play the role of Professor Sprout or Madame Pomfrey. Although the sweet flavor is essential, it shouldn’t be the main focus.
Gang Kheow Wan Loog Chint Pra Grai Khai Khem was the last dish to arrived. The fish balls were meticulously stuffed with salted egg yolks. The saltiness of the egg complements the curry flavor really well. However, the green curry was also a tad too sweet for my liking. Perhaps Ayutthayian love their dishes sweeter than where I came from.
As we were about to leave, an old grandma on a row boat waived and greeted us with a big grin. No wonder why Thailand is also known as “the land of smiles.”
For more photos of my Ayutthaya trip and culinary adventure, click here.
Pae Krung Kao Pla Nam Ngen Pad Cha ©©© 1/2
Pae Krung Kao Yum Woon Sen ©©© 1/2
Pae Krung Kao Gang Kheow Wan Loog Chint Pra Grai Khai Khem ©©© 1/2
Remaining Budget: $290.14
Budget Spent: -$10 ($4+$2.67+$2.67+$0.66)
Budget Available: $280.14
Pae Krung Kao is located at K. 4 Moo 2, U-Thong Road, Ayutthaya 13000, Thailand. (ข. 4หมู่ 2 ถนน อู่ทอง อำเภอพระนครศรีอยุธยา จังหวัดอยุธยา (T) 035.241.555
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