Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tasty

A banana flower salad at Chote Citr, a restaurant in Bangkok. This is the tastiest Thai salad I’ve ever had. 
I love Thai salads. They’re not like salads in the US. There’s no overflowing lettuce, no syrupy mayonnaise based dressings. Thai salad dressings are lime juice based with herbs and spices. The base of the banana flower salad is banana flower (duh) tossed with mint, some chicken and spices and it is delicious. 
In general, my favorite Thai salad is Som Tum, made with shredded green papaya, peanuts, dried shrimp, lime juice and lots of spice. Som Tum is especially popular in Isaan (northeast Thailand, along the Lao and Cambodian borders). I’ve never been able to find the Banana Flower salad anywhere besides Bangkok. A lot of Thai restaurants in the US have never even heard of this salad. I’ve been told it’s a Bangkok and south central Thailand thing, that the Banana Flowers are unique to that part of a Thailand, which I find hard to believe since bananas grow like weeds in Thailand. 
I’ve been going to Chote Chitr for about four years. It’s a great little restaurant, a hole in the wall near Bangkok City Hall. It used to be packed with Bangkok municipal employees on their lunch break. But once the owner was profiled in the New York Times (where I first read about it) and on NPR, its popularity with tourists soared. When I was there earlier this month, all of the customers were farangs (foreigners). The food was still delicious but the ambiance was different. More run of the mill, less Thai, more touristy. The price of fame I guess.
There are more photos from my summer trip to Thailand in my archive and available from ZUMA Press