Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Thailand Part III: Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay

Our best meal in Thailand back in June was on a crickety open air dock in a small fishing village in the the middle of nowhere, Phuket. Go figure. (More on La Panza in Thailand here and here)

The restaurant was completely empty except for a smattering of locals, and completely quiet except for the singing of crickets and the occasional hum of a motor boat. The sun was just sinking into the hills behind the water as we sat down to eat. In other words, Talay Tong was our kind of place.

We started with the steamed green lipped mussels. Within minutes we were happily slurping the biggest mussels we had every seen, dripping with lime juice infused with lemon basil and galangal.

Um, yeah, those bad boys were basically gone in 5 minutes.

Next up was the squid. We weren't really sure how they prepared this - it was definitely not fried. And it seemed too solid to have been steamed. Baked maybe? Can you bake squid? I have no idea, but it was sweet and succulent. We smothered each slice with the burning hot chile sauce pictured.

Before we we were done with the squid, out came the crab curry.

I was so thrilled when I saw (and smelled) this dish, I almost fell out of my chair. Can't you smell the spicy coconut curry just looking at this picture?

Last was a steamed white fish, which came to the table on its own mini iron stove. Our waitress suggested this one, and we understood why. It was so fresh and bright, we could tell the fish had been caught that day.

Again, what impressed me most about the food at Talay Tong (and all the other spots where we ate really) was (1) how fresh the food was and (2) how simple the ingredients were. Just take the dishes above for example - not one has more than 4 or 5 components. Blissfully simple and impossibly delicious, no doubt because of how darn fresh those few ingredients are. I think those are lessons I'd really like to emulate in my own cooking.

We got all this plus virtual gallons of Singha beer to wash it down for less that $20! And I'm sure we got inflated tourist prices! Unbelievable!

For anyone planning to visit Phuket soon, Talay Tong is a must visit:

Address: 162/7 moo3, Maikhao District, Thalang, Thailand
Phone: 66-818955933

Until next time, Buen Provecho!

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