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Posts from the ‘Hua Hin’ Category

Hua Hin Night Market

  Much of the food at the touristy Hua Hin night market is unremarkable, and whatever you do don't get suckered into one of the "Western" sit down restaurants along the perimeters hawking steak and potatoes to Germans and Swedes.


Hua hin night market steak

Steak was a prominent marketing buzzword in Hua Hin. I guess they've determined that foreigners really want their beef, and not in a Thai salad.

Hua hin night market mini bar

Hua hin night market whiskey sour

There was no resisting the novelty of having a 100 Baht ($3) whiskey sour at one of the three-seat bar stands, though.


Hua hin night market cocktail menu

It took strength to ignore the pink lady on the menu. Surprisingly, no grasshopper. 

Hua hin night market nam prik stall

This nam prik stall was mobbed the night before. I pushed my way to the front to sample some chile pastes and ended up buying a sweet, fishy one. I later saw the woman running the operation and in the picture on top of the stall, on a billboard. I guess this a well known brand, at least locally.

Hua hin night market dried meat

We picked up some unusually expensive pork jerky (front and center). Fatty and unchewable at the same time.

Hua hin night market seafood

I stayed away from the seafood, as I was certain it came with a marked-up price.

Churooo love

Churros? Churrooo? It's all about love.

Hua hin night market curries

This was more my speed. Nothing makes me happier than rows of curries. Two stands compete for attention at the far end of the market where the crowds aren't.

Hua hin night market catfish & pork

Fried catfish with chile and basil and something porky with green beans. Regular Hua Hin cuisine was not timid with spice. The razor clam curry we ate at La Mer, some street som tam and this duo all surprised with their powerful burn. We ate refined Thai-esque fare at our hotel's luxurious Oceanside restaurant, right on the beach, our last night and wished we had came back to the market for more $2 curry.

Hua Hin Night Market * Petchkasem Rd., Hua Hin, Thailand

La Mer

As I begin to wrap up my dutiful What I Ate on Vacation Coverage (jeez, it’s almost May and I’ve been back since early March—I really do think I’ll wake up one day, realize I’m 50 years old, and freak) the strays start surfacing.

Khao takiab sea

I wouldn’t bother mentioning La Mer, the only restaurant at the top of Khao Takiab, a site known for its Buddhist temple, statues and wild roaming monkeys, because it screams tourist trap, literally. If driven up the windy road to the top of the rock, there’s no place else to eat within reasonable walking distance. We had half about 40 minutes to kill before being picked back up.

La mer restaurant

On the other hand, La Mer has the distinction of serving the hottest food we ate in Thailand. We had to remind ourselves that it was clearly geared toward Thai tourists, not New Yorkers. We got ice for our beer like the locals and tried to fit in.

La mer razor clams

This soupy tangle of razor clams, basil, chiles and krachai was powerful, peppery. The chewy mollusks delivered the kind of heat that creeps into your ears and won’t let up. Cold beer and a big bowl of rice, the best remedies.

La mer seafood papaya salad

This papaya salad with seafood, a dish I ate quite a few times in Thailand, was at least four times hotter than any we were served in Bangkok. Not unbearable, just very sharp and a nice complement to the crisp tart shredded fruit.

La mer patio

By the half-way point of our trip, sitting outside became more tolerable, though not preferable. It’s not like there was air conditioning inside anyway.

La mer exterior

La Mer * Khao Takiab, Hua Hin, Thailand

PlearnWan

PlearnWan, I can’t think of an American equivalent. Colonial Williamsburg? Too sprawling, too established, ancient history. We don’t really celebrate mid-century Americana beyond a love of Formica-and-chrome diners. Sonic and Ruby's are bringing back carhops, and oddly, even Malaysia has jumped into the Happy Days fray).

Plearnwan exterior

From what I can gather PlearnWan is a 2009-created site meant to simulate the 1950s, nostalgic fun for young and old alike. It’s kind of a museum despite lacking an educational component, it’s like an amusement park but there is only a small ferris wheel, there’s also a motel, bar, boutiques, vintage shops and food stands selling items that may or may not be old fashioned because I’m not familiar with mid-century Thai fads. The whole complex is compact, narrow and stylish like a modern Manhattan condo, wedged in along the highway just outside of Hua Hin.

I was drawn in by the sharp retro design I had seen on their website, which I stumbled upon accidentally. They’re not even trying to cater to non-Thai tourists. There wasn’t a lick of English on signs and no one was speaking it, only a handful of other non-Asians were bumbling around.

We didn’t bother trying to get a ride from The Putahracsa, fearing that our hotel staff would try to discourage us from visiting (Thai hospitality workers seemed to have strong opinions on what tourists would and wouldn’t enjoy) or try to put is in an overpriced car. We did learn the hard way that while a mile-and-a-half walk in NYC is reasonable, it’s punishing under the instantly sweat-inducing Thai sun. Already sunburned from the day before, I took a cue from the locals and used an umbrella as a shield. Even then, I genuinely thought I was going to have a heat stroke on the walk back to town. We never did figure out how to catch a songthaew.

Plearnwan crowds

Despite the numerous stores and services, no one at PlearWan was buying anything. Instead, the entire grounds were like a grand sound stage ripe with photo opportunities. I’m probably now in the background of hundreds of Thai flickr sets. I wonder if the Japanese feel relived that the ‘80s snap-happy tourist stereotype is fading post-digital camera boom. Even the bathroom wasn’t safe from cameras; a group of girls were practically posing on top of me while I tried to wash my hands in peace.

Plearnwan ice shaving

Shaving ice the hard way.

Plearnwan cafe

A coffee shop. Many of the cans and packages in front are just for show.

Plearnwan dessert cart

Yellow, red and green squiggles with matching ladles, to be served over ice, I assume. The green must be the most popular. Personally, I like the little cat figurines.

Plearnwan fried taro & rice rolls

Fried rolls filled with what I think were taro and glutinous rice. The crushed peanuts and chiles were sitting atop a thick, gooey sweet sauce.

Plearnwan kanom buang stall

I’m fairly certain these were the same Thai tacos, kanom buang, I had been seeing around Bangkok but even better with a slew of sweet flavors.

Plearnwan kanom buang choices

I spy some pumpkin, squash, raisins, coconut, sprinkles…I can’t read Thai, though. I picked the green custardy one, which I assumed was pandan.

Plearnwan bar

The bar was empty; I don’t think it was open yet.

Plearnwan photo taking

In the background are three painted scenes primed for photo-taking.

Plearnwan ice cream parlor

Ice cream parlor. The pandan, coconut milk ice cream was wonderful. I was dying of thirst and slammed a paper cup of water from the metal cooler on the counter and got a mouthful of moldy mildew flavor. No one else seemed to have a problem with it, though. Maybe it’s a microby taste you get used to.

PlearnWan * 4/9 Soi Moo Ban Bor Fai, Hua Hin, Thailand

Bella Roma

Pizza seems so wrong for the tropics, but when in Rome, as they say. Due to the inexplicable volume of pizza places in Hua Hin, our curiosity got the better of us. There were a bunch of similar seeming pizza joints in the touristy area, if one was better than another we couldn't tell. We were seated in an air-conditioned room with British (or possibly Australian–I'm bad at deciphering eavesdropped accents) families who seemed to be having a good time. Not that I take that as an accurate judgment of the food. We split a Hawaiian, I mean if you're going to do pizza in such an unorthodox setting you may as well go blasphemous with the toppings (at least pineapple is a crime in pizza-centric NYC). I can't say the pizza was anything to write home about (literally) but the experience definitely was. Novelty goes a long way with me. Used to big city portions, we were still totally hungry after eating our not so large, large pie. We headed out for equally misguided (yet beguiling) buffalo wings at a nearby bar.

Bella Roma * Hua Hin, Thailand

Hua Hin Brewing Company

1/2

So, we spent more on a few pints of beer and novelty buffalo wings than we
had on our entire dinner. Technically, this was "second dinner" as we'd
taken to calling our excess of meals in S.E. Asia. A part of the Hilton, but
on the main drag, this new-ish place was next to outdoor bars with lesser
food and 95 baht drinks. We just wanted to try the Buffalo wings, that's
all. They came all precious and lollipopped, and instead of blue cheese
dressing they were served with a marinara they deemed barbecue sauce. The
whole shebang, coupled with bad cover bands doing that Julio Iglesias Jr.'s
song where he warbles and cries about being your hero, was top notch Thai
for tourists. I mean that in the best way possible. It was fun.


Hua Hin Brewing Company * 33 Naresdamri Rd., HuaHin,
Thailand

Sunshine


No one told me that Hua Hin was a German enclave. Or for that matter that like 85% of the foreigners in Thailand are German. Why? What's this about? But then, why ponder such questions when seeing Thai waitstaff in lederhosen and dirndls make you forget. 

We tried Sunshine for breakfast. The offerings were pretty basic: simple omelets and Museli. No gut-busting plates of bacon, hashbrowns, buttered toast and pancakes here. There was an abundance of Maggi sauce, which I don't get. Is it for Asians or Europeans? It's soy based, correct? I definitely know it's not for Americans. 

The open-air restaurant also housed a bakery and internet café. The bakery was doing a brisk business, selling heavy brown breads, cheese and sausages. So seemingly incompatible for the sweltering S.E. Asian climate, yet so amazingly popular. Most of these Austrian, Germanic joints also do Thai food, which I was too chicken to try. What there ought to be are Thai-German fusion restaurants. Yeah, it'll be the big food trend in 2004.

Sunshine Restaurant & Bakery * 130 Naresdamri Rd., Hua Hin, Thailand

Chao Lay

Our first Hua Hin meal, at the outermost edge of pier, more balmy than
sticky, was a wonderful respite from Bangkok. We should've done this sooner.
I wasn't sure about James's choice of curry powder crab, which sounded gross
because I kept thinking of blah grocery store bottled curry, but the crab
wasn't bad at all. It was really akin to Singapore chili crab, in that it
was spiced and saucy and cooked in the shell. This rendition had the crab
hacked into large pieces. We also ordered southern fried rice, absolutely
not knowing what southern style meant, except that here in NYC there's a
dish called southern curry, which is the hottest, craziest dish I've ever
had. This was not spicy like that. It was just really good rice with an
astonishing amount of prawns and squid tossed in.

We were still acclimating to the spooky, tropical beach climate where
lizards seem to roam freely. At one point, what I thought was a bat starting
flapping right near James's head and scared the shit out of both of us. It
was a massive moth. Now I get how the Japanese could fathom the concept of
Mothra. We also got a jarring surprise from a cat that jumped up on the pier
next to us. Seeing a cat wasn't a surprise, but we couldn't figure how it
came from under the pier since we were suspended over water.

The meal was satisfying and leisurely, that's why I hate to admit that
this was the only evening in S.E. Asia that I got stomach sick. Later that
evening I was laying on the bed, delirious and queasy. I say delirious
because when James asked, "do you want some Tums?" I thought he said, "do
you want som tam" and I was like yeah (I could always go for a little papaya
salad) if I wasn't so ill. I started to laugh, but had to suck it back in as
to not barf. Ah…memories.


Chao Lay * 15
Naresdamri Rd., Hua Hin, Thailand