On Friday we took my parents on the Taste of Thailand food tour. It was a first for us too and after hearing great reviews and seeing all the pictures on their Facebook page we were excited! We thought it would be a great way to introduce Mum and Dad to the national cuisine as well as introduce Dave and I to a wider variety of food!
It was also a great opportunity to try out our new camera, the Olympus Pen E-PL7, a very exciting purchase indeed (not to mention pretty)! I’m hoping you can see an improvement in the picture quality now I am no longer reliant on my iPhone!
The tour is 1200 baht each which includes all of the food and drink you taste on the 4 hour tour through the Village of Love district in Bangkok. We met our guide at 10am at Saphin Thaksin BTS stop near the river, for our tour it was the four of us and an American couple but there can be up to 10 people.
Our guide was Khun Tee, he spoke fantastic English and was very knowledgable without overwhelming us with knowledge. He gave us a brief overview of Thailand and where we were in Bangkok as well as dishing out water and hand wipes! Our first stop was a street vendor specialising in roti breads filled with banana and chocolate washed down with a cup of iced milk tea delicately flavoured with spices.. The rotis were delicious; I’m a sucker for banana and chocolate in any form so this was a perfect start for me and I loved the tea although it wasn’t to everyone’s taste so I drank two!
Tee then took us to a spice shop where for many generations the family have been making by hand their own curry pastes for many local restaurants and businesses. The smell was incredible and it was fascinating to hear about the difference between the curries. In the UK, I had always assumed red curry was hotter than green (thanks Sainsbury’s ready meals) but we learnt that actually green is hotter than red as it is made from fresh chillies compared to red which is made from dried.
We headed into the wet market which was just buzzing with activity. On the edge of the market we met a lady who makes fishcakes, introduced to Thailand originally by the British. I think these fish cakes were my favourite thing of the whole tour, they were not overly fishy, in fact they could have been made of chicken, but the spicing was exquisite and the texture and crispy outer was just too good for words! (I just hope I can find her again!)
We stopped in a Thai dessert shop next, again this establishment had been in the same family for generations and they were specialists in the food they produced. Here we tried five small desserts including sticky rice with shrimp coconut, sticky rice with Thai custard and a banana jelly thing. I really liked the tiny sweet that looked like a bean that was made of duck yolk.
Tee then took us to a fruit stall where he told us all about the different Thai fruits and how to eat them. Here we tried sweet tamarind straight from the pod, a member of the lychee family and rose apples. We also watched the lady prepare one of my favourite fruits Pomelo which is always a performance!
Our next visit was to a Chinese shop where they sold everything from firecrackers to loose tea. We were there to try their herbal drinks created to aid all sorts of ailments. I plumped for Chrysanthemum to assist with my ‘radiance’, Dave had Black Dragon & Honey for energy. I really liked mine, some of the flavours were more acquired! We also tried a special blended tea that helps you to live longer….
A specialist Chinese duck restaurant was our next tasting stop. Here we had duck two ways; with noodles and broth, and with rice. The restaurant filled up whilst we were there, Tee told us it’s an institution in terms of duck and is very busy all the time! We walked through some very traditional streets which were just amazing. We were asked not to take pictures as it is still a residential area so understandably would have been too obtrusive. I took a couple when it was appropriate. My dad and I had a lovely conversation with an old lady sat outside her house, which was just one room and looked to house the whole family, doing English homework with a girl of probably around five years old who was learning the parts of the body. This lady was so genuinely pleased to meet us, practise her English and tell us how important it was for the young girl to also learn English; a humbling experience.
Tee took us to a street vendor whose speciality is fritters; we sampled the banana, Dave the potato. The queue for this lady’s product was incredible, as quick as she could get them out the fryer, they were gone! Tee also gave us some tips on what to look for in a good street fritter vendor! The banana fritter was my dad’s favourite thing of the day!
With full bellies we walked for about 10 minutes to our next location to try some traditional Thai salads; we had laab, som tim and a lemongrass and calamari dish. We ate traditionally with our hands using sticky rice to pick up the salads and also tried Thai coke here. Some of the patrons were starting to get into the Songkran spirit, hence the customary flowery shirts!
Our final taste location was the Than Ying restaurant, originally opened by a member of the royal family and still now in the family. This was very posh compared to the other places we had eaten. Here we sampled Thai green curry which was so delicious and traditional coconut ice-cream served with sticky rice. We finished off with a cup of wonderfully fragrant Jasmine tea.
We finished about 2.15pm and Tee took us back to the BTS. Our time on the Taste of Thailand food tour was fantastic and I would so highly recommend doing this 4 hour tour if you are ever in Bangkok. As well as being a taste sensation we saw parts of Bangkok you would never usually see, from the wet market to the traditional alleys where people still live. It was a fabulous way to learn a bit more about our new home city and I will definitely do it again with future visitors!