- Four Points by Sheraton, Sukhumvit Soi 15, Bangkok
- Siam Paragon Mall, Rama 1 Rd., Pathumwan, Bangkok
- Kuang Sea Foods, 107/13 Soi Rangnam, Bangkok
- Wrapped, Sukhumvit 15, Bangkok
After deciding to compile a semi-serious survey about Bangkok’s best Mango and Sticky Rice (see The Sticky Rice & Mango Adventure Part 1) , we walk back home with a concern: “What are we going to eat for dinner?”
Right while we’re debating about our list of recommendations, a food cart selling fresh mangos appears on our way. For 60 Baths a man peels and cuts the fruit in front of us.
The pulp, ripe and succulent, smells fantastic. We pick up a chunk from the the blade. The taste lives up to its fragrance.
All Thai mangos, when ripe, are sweet and juicy, but the ‘Nam Dok Mai‘, a silky variety whose name means ‘flower water’ or ‘nectar’, is the best choice to accompany Glutinous Rice.
Their skin is deep yellow and slightly wrinkly; their flesh is dark orange and fibre-free, incredibly soft and delicate.
We get two portions to go, that come in a plastic container surmounted by a generous handful of sticky rice. Our dinner is ready: inexpensive and delicious.
The following morning, after a deep sleep, we leaf through the pages of the hotel menu. It’s no surprise that our beloved Thai specialty is listed first in the Four Points Sheraton‘s dessert section. We pick up the phone and order room service. Is there a better way to start our day?
Our breakfast arrives beautifully presented, with a spoonful of coconut glaze to pour on top of a perfectly round sphere of sticky rice.
The strips of mango on the side though are just a few, and they are not enough to add the right tanginess to the rice, which is quite mushy and not salty at all.
In this dessert we discovered salt to be the key ingredient. It softens the sweetness of the coconut cream and makes the dish more tasty.
Aimed to make up for our breakfast, we drift aroud the city looking for adventures. After “Tahi Massage”, the second most popular sign that crowds the streets of Bangkok is “Tailored suits”, indicating the myriad of ateliers where tourists are measured and wrapped in silk and cotton stoles, ready to wear a designer piece of clothes imitation.
We fall in the same trap and end up in a laboratory of Indian tailors thst hand us depliants full of Armani and Dior’s catwalk pictures. The store is packed. A fake Moschino suit, perfectly cut on your body and delivered in less than 24 hours for $60, is appealing, but mentally shaping our outfit requires too much effort. We leave and continue to browse the welter of dusty streets, lined with antiques shops, cafés and clothing boutiques.
While seeking refuge from the heat, we glimpse the crystal walls of Siam Paragon Mall, a world-class shopping destination that captures effectively the paradox of modern Asia, a juxtapositions of ancient and new, gritty and chic.
We are happy to discover that at the ‘Mango Festival‘ stand, located in the gourmet food store, they offer samples of different varieties of ’Khao Nieow Ma-Muang’ (the Thai equivalent of Mango and Sticky Rice).
The most interesting purpose is a colorful take on the tradition, where the rice is a very bright shade of purple and green.
The colors are attained infusing, in the former, flowers of Butterfly Pea (a climbing vine whose plants produce lilac, shell-shaped efflorescence), and in the latter Pandanus leaves (a tropical plant widely used in Southeast Asia cooking as a flavoring).
They tell us that putting blossoms and leaves into the rice’s steaming water, you can also add a subtle hint of sweetness. We try it. The flavor is good but we are not enthralled with the texture, which is a little chewy.
We go back to tradition and sample different textures of rice pudding, infused with its customary, luscious coconut cream, made just with coconut milk, sugar and a pinch of salt. It’s always the best.
The day after we are headed to the Reclining Buddha Temple, home to the largest Buddha statue which is 15 meters high and 43 meters long. Outside our taxi’s windows, amidst the traffic jam, we spot the Grand Palace, residence of the Thai King, the Royal court and the administrative seat of government. Built in 1782, this building is surrounded by a luxuriant garden and secured by plenty of guards wearing their traditional beige uniform.
When we arrive at our destination, also known as Wat Pho, the religious site is breathtaking. In all its glory, sparkling under the sun, Wat Pho is one of the widest and oldest temple complex in Bangkok, whose sixteen gates are guarded by Chinese giants carved out of rocks, supposed to protect the 91 stupas (mound-like structures) that contain the ashes of the royal family and of Buddha.
When we get out it’s already 3 pm and we still haven’t had lunch. The suorrounding street food market seems to suit our purpose. It’s overflowing with people and stallholders that follow us trying to sell us trips on their boat and elephant rides. In the middle of this confusion, we spot an old lady who’s stirring something white into a large saucepan. We still don’t know we’re going to try the most amazing Sticky Rice and Mango we have ever had.
Once again, Mango and Sticky Rice rescue us. We share a plate of nutty, lightly salted rice with slices of mango that float on top. It’s good, but after trying perfection, it’s hard to be impressed by normality. The lacking of the crispy kick given by the crushed beans seems unacceptable. We sight for the succulent coconut cream coating that soaked the coated our lady’s delicacy. After taht we feel like we are going to be really demanding.
The day we leave Bangkok there’s no time for researching new Mango & Sticky Rice. We don’t want to order another one at Sheraton just to satisfy our craving, but we know we can’t depart without having a last one.
At Wrapped, a lounge-style café where we’re sipping a cappuccino while our taxi arrives, we impulsively order whatever comes with mango.
The Mango Tart they bring us, a sweet dough covered with chocolate sponge paste and topped with custard and abundant slices of fruit is truly delicious.
But the rice…. and the accent of the coconut… There lies the perfect pairing to this exotic, honeyed fruit.
The taxi is out. It’s time to go. We charge the trunk complaining we should have stocked up on the Temple Market’s treat. At the airport, while we’re planning on finding a good recipe and make our own, we see a stand with a big, ceramic bowl full of rice. It’s a Mango & Sticky Rice stand!
We cannot believe it’s right in our gate! We linger over the counter sampling coconut chips and when our turn comes we doubtlessly order one each. It doesn’t matter if it’s average or close to perfection. We just need a last oen to say bye to Thailand.
Still Hungry for Mango and Sticky Rice? Learn how to make it on Thai Food Tonight