Thursday, October 2, 2008

TBA Day 20: (Finally) Some More Culinary Adventures

Having a wingman definitely makes the culinary adventuring easier. Aside from being great company, Stanley is also a pretty great person to go find amazing food with (in part because he seemed to get all of the laid-back and easy-going genes in the family). Having a wingman also makes it possible to order more different foods at each restaurant, which is awesome.
After a relaxing morning (view from our patio pictured above), we rented a scooter and Dan drove us down to check out the west coast of the island (where most of the tourists stay). Past Chaweng Beach and just before Lamai there was supposed to be a restaurant called Sabinglae that serves amazing food. From the back of the scooter I spotted the somewhat subtle sign:
We pulled over and found that down a flight of stairs was this fairly large restaurant with gorgeous views right on the beach. We ordered more food than was probably necessary, but it was all fantastic and the total cost (including 2 large beers) was less than US$17 for the two of us, so it’s all good. The first dish to arrive was the Spicy Seafood Soup. I could seriously eat this every day. The flavors in the broth (especially the lemongrass and lime leaves) were so assertive, and the shrimp were tender and delicious.
Next up were the Mussels with Sweet Basil. These were a different style of mussel than I’m used to, and came with a really spicy dip and a creamy sligly-less-spicy dip. Very tasty.
After the mussels they brought out the “Traditional” Curry with Grilled Fish. This was so unique and delicious. I’ve never had a curry that tasted quite like this, and I love how every time we order a “Traditional” curry here it ends up being something completely different. This may not look like much, but it was fantastic and was Stanley’s favorite curry by far on his trip.
The last dish we ordered was the Deep Fried Shrimp Cakes. These were pretty darn tasty as well, served with a sweet dipping sauce. Really nicely flavored and perfectly cooked.
I had reasonably high expectations for this restaurant, but they were exceeded by far. Our timing couldn’t have been better, either, as about 5 minutes after we sat down to eat there was an awesome torrential downpour. The rain finished up just in time for us to hop back on the scooter and drive back to the hotel to jump in the pool.

The other great thing about having a wingman is that when you’re feeling tired and lazy they can make you get up the energy to still go out and find interesting food. For dinner we headed the other direction around the island to Bangpo Seafood, which some consider to be the best restaurant in Thailand. The seating is right down on the sand, so I suspect the view would be beautiful when there's still enough light to see the ocean.
We started with the complimentary appetizer of a paste of prawns, chilies, and spices baked in a coconut shell. Really strong flavors, but tasty and a nice way to get your palate ready for more good food to follow.
We ordered an appetizer of oysters, which were huge and a bit more subtly flavored than the oysters we’re used to. They came with chili sauce, sweet chili sauce, limes, and fried shallots as garnish. The chili sauce completely masked the subtle flavor of the oyster, but with just the fried shallot and a touch of the sweet chili sauce it was quite nice.
We also ordered a crab meat curry (note the big ol’ hunks of crab meat in the picture below) and what turned out to be shrimp ceviche with lemongrass (pictured below after we dug in).
The sauce for the crab curry was very good, but too strongly flavored to allow the crab to shine through (which is a shame when you love crab as much as I do), but the ceviche was spectacular. Definitely the best ceviche I’ve had.

I would say that, based on what we ordered, I was more impressed with Sebinglae than Bangpo, but both places provided really unique and delicious food. I’ve seriously been craving Thai food this week, so it works out nicely that I happen to be in Thailand to deal with that. So far so good…

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