Wednesday, July 14, 2010

only in thailand (and east perth)

Today for lunch me and a friend decided to relive our days spent in Thailand, eating meals in restaurants three (and sometimes four... or eight) times a day. We never, EVER thought about how much fat or sugar we were eating because we knew we would simply burn it off the next morning whilst hiking in the thickets of the northern hill tribe jungles, or perhaps trumping through leechy streams in heavy boots and 20kg backpacks. Pure bliss.

Every time we rocked up at a restaurant, my friend and I would, without fail, go through a steady ritual we had developed from the beginning of our travels.

Firstly, we picked a good table, of course. Somewhere not too hot, not too cold and with a good view. On most days our table was on a stretch of the Mekong, the river dotted with lanterns and the dark silhouettes of wooden boats along its banks just visible in the moonlight. Around the middle of the trip, we often ate lunch overlooking rice paddies as far as the eye could see, with groups of peacefully grazing oxen here and there. The most mundane seating we had to 'endure' during our trip was your typical south east asian streetside cafe dining: motorcycles stacked with families of 6 or 7 zooming past, rickety lorries packced with teetering stacks of merchandise and sometimes, animals, and a whole lot of busy people: frowning, passive, shouting, sweating, waving, speeding.

Then we always scanned the menu and picked two or three dishes to share between the both of us, one meat one vegetable (balance was the key to every meal), and usually white rice to supplement. We always tried to try anything we hadn't had yet, and so we ended up trying all sorts of new, weird and wonderful food in Thailand.

Then came the best part: eating what we'd ordered. This part was always accompanied by loud, unrestrained exclamations about how good/bad/spicy/delicious the food was, with lengthy comparisons to other meals we'd had, and almost always, we commented on how we could never in our wildest dreams get Thai food like this in Perth.

This remains true, but today at the Basil Leaves Cafe & Restaurant in East Perth, we still got to have some pretty decent Thai food and reminisced about our times there.

We ordered "Blanket Prawns" ($7.5), something I'm pretty sure isn't a traditional Thai dish but still hit the spot, juicy prawns in extremely crisp spring roll pastry with a sweet chilli sauce on the side.

Our main dishes were Sweet and Sour Thai Chicken ($10.5), which was a bit of a letdown (could have done with more pineapple and less onion, and the chicken was a bit dry), but the Chee Choo Fish ($12.50) was yum. Served in a thick spiced coconut gravy, the fish was coated in a light batter that even when topped with the gravy, retained its crunch. The meat was perfectly cooked and well paired with the cashews. I'd definitely order this one again.

Please forgive that the pictures of the mains are sloppy, I was so hungry when our food arrived that I forgot to take photos...

One thing hasn't changed since returning to Perth: me and my friend still complain after our meal that we're SO. Full.

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