The other day we had one of those perfect Sundays. I woke up after an epic sleep, went to a wonderful new church, made brunch for Andy and our friend, Abby, and then as we perused The New York Times, pondered how to spend the rest of this day.
If you’re a normal person, you might relax in Central Park, go to a museum or go shopping. If you’re me, your mind turns to dinner. It may be my years in England and the institution of the Sunday Roast. Sunday inherently feels like a day for special meals. Getting Sunday dinner on the table (usually a mad dash to be plating-up in less than 30 minutes) can be planned and savored in the mind’s palate over the course of a day.
But what to make?
Andy had wanted to check out Chinatown—he was looking for his beloved Sweet Thai Chili Sauce and with our cupboards still largely bare since the move, we needed to get some Asian cooking essentials. As luck would have it, we were with just the right friend for this adventure. Abby had spent several years in Thailand and knew just what to make for dinner and just where to get the goods. Off to Chinatown we went.
We took the 4 down to Brooklyn Bridge, walked about five minutes and behold: we were in another country. New York is incredible that way, that this little island holds space for separate countries But there we were, standing in Chinatown. I felt utterly transported.
Our first stop was Bangkok Center Grocery where we picked up everything from coconut milk and fish sauce to fresh lemongrass and thai basil. And Andy found his Sweet Thai Chili Sauce, just the one he was looking for. As we walked through the streets of Chinatown, we browsed through clothes and considered having massages ($40 for an hour? Yes please) and then thought better of it as we stared down the stairwell to a doorway covered in purple curtains. We almost bought one of those kitties with the waving hand, turned our nose up at fresh tripe sitting sluggishly in a shop window and ooh’ed and ahh’ed the most enormous crab I have ever seen. Andy stopped at a roadside stall and bought a box of fried rice and three spring rolls (for $2.25). After that, Andy said, “We should move down here.” He was serious.
We headed home and made what is probably a bastardized, but nonetheless delicious version of Tom Ka Gai, a coconut based soup and Chicken Satay.
My local Asian grocery store doesn’t even carry dark soy sauce, so I’m envious that you live so close to a place that has it all. The soup–Tom Ka Gai–it’s my new fast-food favorite.
And a $40 massage? If it’s a good one, I’ll happily step behind that purple curtain.
I love Chinatown, not just for the food items and supplies, but also the bamboo steamers, cleavers, teapots, and all the other cool Asian kitchen tools that I can’t find anywhere else for the same reasonable price.
Tom Ka Gai has always been one of my favorite foods. I could live on that and curry laksa.
Pam, you are hereby invited to the Philippines. A full body massage there—with the masseuse traveling to your home, if you prefer—will set you back all of $5 for an entire hour.
Dear Ivory Hut,
I’m in. When do we leave?
coconut soup sounds lovely! Oh how I miss the city!