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Vol. XIV No. 16
Friday April 21 - April 27, 2006

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by Saichon Paewsoongnern



Dining well, but on the cheap

by Miss Terry Diner

(With Miss Terry Diner being on holidays this week, we have reprinted one of her columns of a few months ago, in which it was suggested that dining out in Pattaya could be done spectacularly cheaply, provided you did not want the spectacular venues.)

There is a tendency (natural enough too) to think that all the best food in Pattaya can only be had at one or other of our top hotels, or fine dining establishments, all of which have also become more numerous in recent years too. However, there are some excellent “other” eateries that should be tried by everyone who lives here, or is even on a holiday stop-over. These are the pavement cafes or roadside restaurants.
There are several obvious reasons that these great little eating outlets are not frequented more often by the expat community. First is generally a lack of confidence in kitchen cleanliness and secondly a lack of confidence in the ability to order dishes in Thai, since most of these places do not have an English menu board!
Over the past 12 years, the Dining Out Team has hit the streets many times to find some of the best places for you and to make the ordering of dishes a simple task.
Let’s clear up a few of the basic worries. First, cleanliness – the main problem in the ethnic eating stakes lies with incompletely washed vegetables or food stored at a warm temperature for too long. In one case the bacteria/viruses are left on the food and in the other the incorrect storage allows proliferation of the bugs.

This can be got over by careful selection of the food requested. Stay clear of raw vegetables, if unsure, and only order dishes that are cooked directly in front of you. This does mean that you won’t be ordering a curry from those large pots at the roadside vendor’s, and som tum (salad) with the pickled black crabs is also best avoided. Mind you, this can be taken to extremes. One friend on his first visit to Thailand ate only bananas as he thought they were the only “safe” food he could think of, that had not been touched!
Stick to ordering food that is cooked before your eyes. Stir fries, satays and omelets are fine and give you many menu choices. Learn a few of the required phrases like gai pad num mun hoy (chicken in oyster sauce), kai yat sai (Thai omelet), gai pad king (chicken with ginger), khao pad gai (fried rice with chicken) and gai pad bai kaprao (chicken with basil). Remember too the phrase “mai pet” if you do not want your food too spicy!
There are many venues that you can try, and you will always find that the better ones are crowded with local folk. You will also find that the cooks will try hard to understand your order and nothing is ever too much trouble (even running across the road to get a beer to go with the evening’s fare).

One such is on the footpath outside the (first of about eleven) 7-Eleven’s on Jomtien Beach Road. You can get your drinks in the 7-Eleven and order directly from the food carts on the sidewalk. Not much English is spoken here, but the cook on the noodle cart at the corner does have a little if you get totally stuck!
Another is on Third Road, close to the intersection with Soi 17 (with another 7-Eleven on the corner). A very popular place, this has food on offer from many different regions in Thailand. There is also another on Sukhumvit Road (opposite Pattaya Cane) between Central and North Roads, and another very busy and noisy area behind Walking Street and close to the Marine Bar.
For a great experience you owe it to yourself to try this type of cuisine. It is a most inexpensive night out. Bargain on spending around 100 baht for two people for dinner! You can feed 12 diners for the price of one elsewhere!

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