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DINING OUT - ENTERTAINMENT

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Dining Out

Troppi Karibe Band

Nightmarch

Dining Out: Aungkam - a slice of Northern Thailand right here!

by Miss Terry Diner

The Aungkam Restaurant has only been in operation for less than one year, but the owners Kanika and Fred Wilson have been around the restaurant game in Pattaya for quite some time.

The Dining Out Team was enlarged to five on our evening, to allow sampling of many of the dishes, and Fred himself welcomed us. The restaurant itself is also very welcoming, being done out with warm wood panelling everywhere, Northern Thai fretwork panels and wall hangings and tapestries. There is a raised dais area where those who wish to dine in totally authentic fashion can sit on the floor and recline against the triangular cushions, but we chose the more conventional section which features heavy cherry-wood tables and chairs. There is an upstairs section as well which can cater for private parties of up to 100 people.

Continuing in the Northern Thai theme, the waitresses are all dressed in the “Moh Hom” farmers’ outfits of blue tunic tops and trousers, while in one corner sat a lovely young girl, complete in traditional Northern Thai dress and Hill Tribe jewellery, who sang quietly during the evening. Such a pleasant change from Muzak! Mention should be made that the chefs are also “imported” from Northern Thailand.

The menu is an eight pager, with an explanation of the cuisine on the inside cover. There is also clear indication, in English, of the degree of spiciness, but all dishes can be made Not Hot if the customer requests. There is another essential difference in this menu in the fact that there is no attempt to anglicise every Thai name, but rather there is an explanation of what the dishes are, such as “Wild bamboo shoots, stir-fried with egg.”

We sat back with some beers (50-60 baht) (but no Singha Gold unfortunately), and Madame had a white wine (B.70) while we took in the menu items. Appetizers are first with fried chicken wings, fish, pork or beef (B.69) and then some pork dishes with Northern style sauces (B.69), followed by some side orders (B.40-79) including stuffed chillies and Khao Soi, the Burmese egg noodle chicken curry, which Miss Terry simply adores!

Next up are 16 curries and soups (generally around B.69) including such rare items as young jackfruit curry with pork ribs and hang lay curry. 12 steamed and deep fried dishes follow (around B.89, but B.200 for whole fish dishes) including a deep fried chicken with crispy ginger topping.

The next section is grilled, toasted and stir-fried dishes (B.69-79) with again different items such as stir-fried pickled cabbage with aspic or stir-fried aubergine with spices. Northern salads follow (B.69-89) including larb and a lemongrass salad with pork and shrimp. For the less adventurous there is also a page of Central Thai dishes (generally around B.80) such as the ubiquitous chicken with cashews and pad Thai.

The menu finishes with the beverages and a section with natural herb drinks such as lemongrass, ginger, fragrant leaf and tamarind (they grow their own herbs too), plus some Thai desserts.

We had a large selection of the dishes, all of which were explained by the charming Miss Noi and for me, the dish of the evening was the Khao Soi, while Madame went for the deep fried chicken with ginger. Others in our group plumped for different items such as the hang lay curry, but there was certainly something for everyone. According to Fred, the Northern Thai food “does not leave you feeling like you just ate a cow” and we must agree. We were satisfied and full, but not bloated. It was a spectacular evening.

We had dined magnificently on wonderfully presented (and inexpensive) food, with new tastes for us all (even for the Thai member of the Dining Out Team) and we can highly recommend this restaurant if you want to experience some “real” Northern Thai cuisine. Take some friends and do try it. You will not be disappointed.

Aungkam Northern Style Restaurant, Pattaya 3 Road, next to Pattaya Driving Range, North Pattaya, 01-628 9634.

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Troppi Karibe Band

How’s your Samba? Or perhaps you’d like to strut the Lambada? At the Moon River Pub for the next few weeks you have the opportunity to listen to, and dance along with, the Troppi Karibe Band, a new six piece Latin group in Pattaya.

Troppi Karibe plays nightly from 9 p.m. (except Mondays) at the Moon River Pub.

These musicians have Latin in the soul, coming from Colombia where they got together as a group three years ago. They all have wonderful South American names, the leader and vocalist/congas is John Alexander Franco, flanked by the two sultry singers and dancers Diana Milena and Perla, with Milton Fernando on keyboards, Eider de Jesus on bass guitar and Anderson Miranda on percussion. Proud Colombians they are, cheering on Juan Pablo Montoya, Colombia’s favourite son of the moment in the glittering world of Formula 1 motor racing.

Troppi Karibe has been touring for many months and has come to Pattaya via Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and India and they are off to China after the Thailand gig. They play predominantly Latin music, with Salsa, Cha Cha and Bolero as well as the Samba and Lambada, but will also break into native Colombian tunes and rhythms with the Cumbia, Porro and Cuagiro.

If you are a fan of Latin music, the Troppi Karibe plays every night from 9 p.m. (other than Mondays) at the Moon River Pub in front of the Thai Garden Resort.

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Nightmarch

Many barroom conspiracy theorists here in Pattaya can sometimes be heard expounding on the alleged ‘hidden’ statistics concerning the number of foreigners who expire in Fun Town each year, either through fair means or foul.

Considering the large numbers of people who have reached retirement age (between 60 and 65) in their homeland and then decide to make Pattaya their new home, it’s probably not surprising that quite a few find themselves on the way to the great Beer Bar in the sky. Not for nothing is Pattaya sometimes referred to as Thailand’s version of God’s Waiting Room.

However, the barroom philosophers are more concerned about those whose demise is considered more dubious. The number of foreigners who manage to fall off the perch due to drug overdoses (both of the illegal and legal variety), over-indulgence in the giggle sauce leading to heart and/or liver failure, suicide brought about by a failed love affair and the odd plain murder are hotly contested figures.

There are those who will state categorically that countless hundreds of foreigners are leaving Pattaya by way of a pine box while others are less sanguine.

Stand on the corner of South Pattaya Road and Second Road and watch the number of clowns on fairly powerful motorbikes who think that Pattaya is some form of glorified racetrack and they are Formula One-class riders. The take-off from the traffic lights on occasions resembles the start of a 500CC World Championship bike race. Unfortunately, more than a few of these wombats don’t bother to wear crash helmets. So, when some do lose control of their machine and become acquainted with an immovable object like a concrete telegraph pole, the result is normally a foregone conclusion. Telegraph Pole 1, Foreigner 0. The actions of these morons just prove you can’t put brains in monuments. I don’t know how many fatalities and injuries are incurred each year just from people doing stupid things on motorbikes.

The point is, that although a number of foreigners - both residents and tourists - do wind up popping off rather earlier than they expected does not mean that there is a massive conspiracy in the corridors of power to conceal the fact. I would argue that if the statistics were freely published, along with the genuine cause of the demise, people would soon see just how many irresponsible idiots there are among us.

P.S.: Can anyone verify the rumour about the great white shark seen gobbling three Russian tourists (all at once) a couple of weeks ago at Wongamat?

Turning the ship around: Local punters may remember about a year or so ago there were two ogling dens located in Pattayaland Soi 2 that were allegedly not pulling their collective weight and were earmarked for sale.

Neither place finished up being sold and maybe that’s worked out for the best as one of them in particular has had a remarkable turnaround in its fortunes, due mainly to some clever marketing.

The place in question is the Rodeo Girls ogling den. Although the layout of the play palace leaves a lot to be desired, the music (as I wrote in a column last August) is excellent and some of the dancing maidens (the last time I looked anyway) are definitely easy on the eye, at least the nighttime shift anyway.

Unfortunately, the Rodeo Girl outfits are only dusted off for Friday and Sunday evenings, otherwise it’s regulation g-strings of various hues.

The girls are revolting: A bit of trouble is brewing in a couple of long-standing Sierra Tango (S/T) establishments if recent rumours are anything to go by. Seems as though a few Sierra Tango damsels, experts in the art of dine and dash, have be fleeing their place of employment because the boss wasn’t paying them any money at all. Free board and lodging was all they were getting, relying on tips from generous patrons to keep them going. Quite a number of the young ladies are now plying their trade from the more amenable and neatly-appointed Harley Bar while those that are still hanging on at the old place are feeling a bit blue.

Rockin’ down the highway: A couple of months ago the fare on the air-conditioned buses running from Pattaya to Bangkok rose from 77 baht to 90 baht. Apparently, one of the arguments advanced for the increase was the need to keep up with the price rises on the tollways leading into and out of Bangkok. Fair enough you might think, but being a regular commuter between Fun Town and the Big Chili, I can tell you the road jockeys only take the highway on odd occasions. Maybe they’re just so used to a particular route that they don’t want to change.

My e-mail address is: nightmarch@hotmail.com

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