Thursday, October 13, 2011

Transitioning to Tea

Okay, call me a pessimist, but when I wrote this post almost two weeks ago, I feared I'd be spending the next year in coffee hell, with sipping stuff at Costa being my only form of entertainment. Since then, things have started to look up (a little) and there have been a couple of nummy beverages and a good bit of exploration going on. I've been dying to update you but this postgrad thing's been kicking me around a bit.... Written on October 2.


From t-shirts to long sleeves and a jacket, my clothes have taken a turn for the warmer over the past couple of days. Yep, I finally made it to England last week but at that point the weather was oddly almost tropical. Seriously, end of September tanning in the UK? Thanks, Indian summer! But that was last week. This week we’re doing autumn all the way.

Sorry for keeping silent about my last month of food and drink escapades in Hawaii. It was a blur of final sips and nibbles, some of long-time favorites, others of crave-worthy new things. Giant bags of fresh sweet potato/taro chips and steaming pots of nabe leap instantly into my head. Alas, leaping into my stomach will have to wait at least a year….


As for warm bevvies here in England, tea may be the way to go until decent coffee starts to emerge. Strong, milky and a bit sweet. I enjoyed this pot over the weekend before battling the back-to-uni crowds at the Tesco near campus.


I love bacon rolls. They’ve got to be one of the world’s perfect foods.

The coffee scene here in the West Midlands may not be indie coffee heaven but I have a couple of leads on some really great-sounding spots. Hopefully we’ll have a chance to flee the campus this weekend.

As for in and around the University of Warwick, the Café Bar at the Warwick Arts Centre might have some potential as might Curiositea at the Student Union. Leading the race for my most decent cup is the flat white I had at Costa the other day. It beat out this morning’s push-button latte by a mile. Even the “cappuccino” from the instant coffee machine in the library was better than that cup of scariness….


And yes, if there turns out to be a bit of a coffee drought out here, there are still tons of yummy shots from Hawaii weighing down my camera. We can dream about Hawaii together as I get my posts up to date….  Until then, drink something nice for me, will ya?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Cup of Celebration


I’ve returned to Glazer’s, a great little café I told you about here, to share some news. It’s finally time to dust off those old suitcases and shift this site’s spotlight toward the “wanderlust” part of its name.

This blog (and its writer) will be crossing a couple of oceans and relocating to a new set of isles. The British Isles, to be exact. For the next year, our home base will be Coventry, England; a jumping-off point for a whole new series of adventures.


As I mentioned before, I’ve been spending the last several months preparing for grad school. It’s been my dream to continue working with people from other countries and to encourage cultural exchange, so it only makes sense to pursue my master’s degree abroad. I’ll be studying Intercultural Communication for Business and the Professions at the University of Warwick.

Sure, a whole lot of studying will be going on but I plan to make regular escapes from the university bubble to explore (and will report back, of course). There will be countless cups of coffee (and tea) to contemplate over, tasty things to munch on around every corner and an endless supply of side streets to discover. Besides weekend jaunts around the UK, I hope to exercise my passport with a bit of meandering around Europe and beyond. I’m already wishing for more time….


Speaking of which, time has flown by at such a crazy pace, leaving me with exactly one month until I hop on that plane headed toward Heathrow. As I scramble with last minute preparations, I’ll try to post about a couple more of my favorite cafés out here and stop by a few essential local spots. Tara’s also arriving here today for a little R&R before starting her next chapter, so hopefully we’ll have some time to soak up the island together. Care to come along?

So now you’re up to speed. Please join me on this new journey! We’ll wander around cities without a map, smile through culture shock and seek out the greatest coffeehouses ever. It’ll be grand.


Glazer’s Coffee
2700 South King Street, Honolulu, HI 96826
(808) 391-6548 glazerscoffee.com

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Monday in Manoa


I'm taking a breather today in Manoa. It’s a brutally hot August day but life is a lot breezier out here in the valley. I enjoyed a mug of Ethiopia Mordecofe at Morning Glass Coffee + Café which is a very airy spot indeed. Delicate window shades hang instead of walls on two sides of the café, allowing the air to circulate and the mind to wander. 

This new spot features beans from Stumptown as well as Rusty’s Hawaiian, the Ka’u estate that has generated quite a bit of buzz over the last while. Everything is ground fresh and brewed by the cup, as it should be with such great beans. There were three coffees to choose from but my mind zoned out once I saw "Ethiopia." Mmm, fruity and wonderful.

I enjoyed my coffee while noshing on a large frittata wedge packed with Hamakua mushrooms, spinach, “melted” leeks and Muenster. So good!! They had a bunch of other tempting things on the menu and spread across the counter (which I don't remember specifics about except that they all seemed to be equally stuffed with great-sounding ingredients) and the staff kept mentioning to customers that they serve a full breakfast menu on the weekends. Seems like I need to get out to Manoa more often!


Sorry, I would have taken more shots but my camera's battery died before my coffee arrived at the table. I took this one with my not-so-smart phone. For some reason, I really fell in love with that orange mug. It just felt good in my hand.



Morning Glass Coffee + Café
2955 East Manoa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822
morningglasscoffee.com (808) 673-0065

Friday, August 12, 2011

Adventures in Eating

Here's another post that I wrote for the WorknPlay website in Korea. This time the topic is sundae but we're not talkin' ice cream. It's pronounced more like "soon-day" and tastes more like... um... oh, just read on!


All right, perhaps I'm a food wuss. And yes, I need to be more open minded. Like the time that plate of fiery-hot chicken feet was placed in front of me at the employee dinner and I made the excuse that it was too hot for me. Well, maybe it was, but actually it was just too... "feety." Today I knew lunch was going to be a tough one when my co-worker IMed me that we were going to a sundae guk restaurant.


Ah sundae, Korea's version of the blood sausage. I had it a couple of times before with tteokbokki. A couple of pieces here, a whole lot of deliciously spicy tubes of rice cake there. They actually were kind of good together. But having sundae, front and center, boiled in a soup? Oh, I didn't know if I could handle that.


Our large group made its way over to the sundae eatery a bit after noon. Wow, the place was packed! Oh, too bad, I guess we'll have to…. Then a table for four magically appeared. I considered joining the other half of our lunch bunch that were going down the street for donkas (tonkatsu) but instead pulled off my boots and settled onto the cushion that the ajumma (older woman) had placed for me. She seemed friendly and rather amused by my presence.



The banchan (side dishes) were quickly set out in front of us, followed by boiling caldrons of soup. I searched through my serving with a spoon, finding various pork parts ("mainly stomach"), leeks and green onions. The star of our meal had settled to the bottom of the bowl. Rin scooped out a couple of hers and allowed them to cool on her metal rice bowl lid. I watched her dip the pieces into her serving of pickled baby shrimp before eating them.

Okay, maybe I'll try that. I dipped a piece after letting it rest for a bit and then took a bite. The casing was considerably tougher than in my past sundae experiences. I then chose to bite out the filling, leaving a pile of empty casings next to the bowl. Yep, lovely.

Spooning through my lunch, I ate select pieces of pork, realizing all the while how ridiculously picky I was being. Earlier in the meal, my coworkers had noted how Koreans eat every part of the pig: the feet, the ears, the head. And here I was, acting so ungrateful for what was set in front of me. I ate as much soup as I could, submerging spoonfuls of rice into the broth and scooping up vegetables.
 

At the end of the meal, my leftovers were considerably chunkier than my dining companions, although I did manage to get the soup's level down. The ajumma was actually impressed at my effort and mentioned to my coworkers that she had a couple of American customers that really liked the dish. I pictured a table full of enthusiastic, "extreme food" loving men....

No, I'm grateful to be included in these real Korean culinary experiences. I've discovered so many food gems that I hope to track down when I return to my country. While I'm here, though, I think I'll free up my cushion at the sundae guk restaurant for one of its true fans.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

커피! (Keopi!)

This was the first blog post I wrote for the WorknPlay website in South Korea. Yes, I spent a year and a half of my life drinking instant coffee, mainly at work and when offered a free cup after a restaurant meal. When in Seoul.... One packet is poured into a Dixie-sized cup with roughly 3 ounces of hot water, making for a really sweet shot of coffee. I'd usually add three times that amount of water when mixing it myself. 


It started out like any other day. I entered the office, put my stuff down at my desk and strolled over to the snack area. Then I noticed it: Only two tubes of coffee left!

Suddenly my morning mind spun into a mild panic. What if no one else noticed (except for the lucky soul taking the final packet) and we were left with an empty Maxim bag sitting on the table? It was 8:30 am and I needed some caffeine to kick my brain out of this irrational spiral.

I picked up one of the yellow tubes, poured its precious mixture of coffee crystals, sugar and milk powder into my mug, added steaming water and hoped for the best.
 

Later that afternoon, the Maxim bag was replaced with a similarly-colored bag of Maxwell House packets. Um, what is this??!

For those of you unfamiliar with this staple of Korean modern culture, KoaMart.com, an LA-based retailer of Korean (and other Asian) goodies, provides the following description for Maxim Coffee Mix: Mocha Gold Mild:
Invigorate your day with a great tasting cup of MAXIM instant coffee. The rich roast flavor and aroma will give you the immediate confidence you need to take charge of the day. Made with a select blend of the best beans which are masterfully blended and freshly ground to perfection. The result, a quick cup of coffee that's brimming with the rich, full-bodied flavor of MAXIM.
Um, okay, you're talking about sugary instant coffee here!


Honestly, Taster's Choice scared me back in America. Coffee in a jar. The go-to brand for middle-aged Americans who want their morning joe cheap and in a hurry. Here in Korea, parent-company Nestlé has somehow elevated its instant brews in status, with Taster's Choice espresso bars and Nescafé sit-down establishments opening around the country.

And while instant brands have made their way into cafés in the East, the Western world is taking a step in the other direction. Starbucks is aiming to bring quality and class to the just-add-water coffee market with VIA, its single-serve coffee packets. Taster's Choice has responded by marketing their own packets as an alternative to the "pricey" coffee shop chain. But unlike their Korean coffee tubes, milk and sugar is not included.*

But we're not talking high-end instant coffee here; this is the basic stuff. Maxim has just become a part of my morning routine over the past year in Korea, and now they replace it with THIS? Inferior Maxwell House American crap!** Yeah, I think I've been here a bit too long….

The proper replacement (It says "Maxim" in Korean)

* I poked around the Internet last night and found out that Nescafé in the West does have an instant coffee mix that sounds similar to the coffee tubes in Korea. According to the webpage for Nescafé 3 in 1, "(e)ach single-serve sachet has the right balance of coffee, whitener and sugar...." Whitener?? Okay, that would be non-dairy creamer, but it sounds scary....

** I also discovered that Maxim was actually the original freeze-dried coffee in America and, from this blog post, that it was created by Maxwell House. Hmm.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Coffee Break with Eun Jung


Part of my heart will always be in Seoul, Korea. That city is stuffed full of memories for me, made with great friends from both Korea and the US.  Beyond that, it’s an intense, vibrant place filled with people in motion, wonderful food and countless side streets loaded with things to discover. Oh, and yes, some of the best cafés ever!

I had to share this shot with you that my friend and former coworker Eun Jung took in our old office's neighborhood. Unfortunately, the Nambu Bus Terminal area didn’t have any cool hand drip coffee shops when we worked there. She promised to keep this place for me until we can once again have a coffee break together.

Speaking of Korea, I’ve been meaning to share a few of the blog posts that I wrote while in Seoul. Some chronicle Eun Jung and my adventures while others are just random observations of a waegook (foreigner). I’ll post some over the next several weeks and save a few for the next time I start really missing the city.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

In Memorium


They say that timing is everything but sometimes timing is just plain weird. This is my belated tribute to a great spot gone before its time and the brief but yummy moments that we shared.

I had my first sip of a Satura Cakes latte last summer, before a marathon day of wedding dress shopping. No, not for my wedding. We had a little time while my best friend Brooke finished up at the salon, so her mom Fran and I decided to wander over to Satura Cakes at Ward Center to fuel up. It was a beautiful day and a beautiful drink. Sort of looked like a galaxy in my cup. We sat under an umbrella, savoring our coffees before the white dress fashion show began.


Fast forward to late fall. In the months since returning from Korea, my life had been screaming out “grad school!!” more and more often. I realized I could no longer ignore its noisy insistence but needed to find something to do until classes started almost a year later. When Satura Cakes announced they were looking for baristas, killing time with coffee sounded like a great idea.

I decided that a spying mission was necessary before my interview to help me study up on the place. All right, it was also an excuse to have another great latte and to sample one of their sweets. The Konamisu (their local spin on tiramisu) seemed to be one of their most popular choices, so I had to give it a taste. A David Gray song (♥) streamed over the outdoor speakers, which I took as a good sign. Everything felt right.


Interview. You’re hired! Training.

In order to best sell Satura Cakes' goodies, it was important to become familiar with each of their flavors. So to increase my product knowledge, I happily sampled both the sweet and savory. Japanese-style cheesecake, luscious Mangomisu (this time a fruity take on tiramisu), gorgeous kouign amann. I wish I could show you just how decadent each one was. I wish you could go down and grab one of those addictive caramel crunch cream puffs for yourself. But no, it’s not possible.

Yes, this would be the bizarre timing part. After a week and a half of getting used to the shop, our manager Soni called back another worker and me just as my shift started. We’re closing down. In a week and a half. Right before Christmas? Yep. She was as shocked as we were.

On a side note, check out this awesome mocha that Soni made for me. Yes, she's a true coffee artist. Wish I could have had more time to learn from her!

  
Okay, back to the saga.... I spent the first week and a half learning my way around the shop and the second one consoling customers for the loss of a favorite sweet spot. It was surreal.

I just wonder where all of those regulars relocated to. That group of friendly Chinese men who caught up with each other through lively chats over coffee. The nice older fellow who always ordered a green tea financier and said his goodbyes to us with a bouquet of yellow roses. There were countless customers that the long-time staff knew by name and drink that I was just getting familiar with…. I felt badly for them; it’s hard to find a good new third place.

There had been a few Satura Cakes in California in addition to the ones that we had out here. After hearing my dessert stories, my best friend Tara (yeah, I’m a firm believer that a person can have more than one best friend) went to their original (and now the only remaining) location in Silicon Valley and got hooked on their sweets. The following is her experience in words and pics, which happened an embarrassingly long time ago since I’m so slow at posting…. Oh, and check out her baking blog, Sweet Dreams Patisserie, to be further tempted by yummy things.

   

Satura Cakes in Los Altos was not too crowded and the case still had a lot of selection. Previously I had tried the chestnut mousse cake and a chocolate layered wafer cake. But the best thing I had was the Green Tea Cream Puff so I got it again this time. August (her husband) picked the Yuma Cake which was a bittersweet chocolate sponge cake made with almond and cocoa powder, layered with French chocolate ganache and it's gluten free. And I also tried the Cassis which was black currant with white chocolate mousse over a hazelnut chocolate crust. They were also delicious. I usually have to have one fruity, one chocolaty and one tea or nutty flavored.


That last shot is of Tara's son Sage after sharing a bit of the Cassis. When was the last time you enjoyed dessert that much?

Reading her descriptions makes me want hop on a plane, grab Tara and make a cake run. Ah, but with Satura Cakes’ frequently-changing menu, I’m sure many of the treats she listed have been cycled out for new ones. New gorgeous, delicious ones….


Anyway, Satura Cakes is great! If you’re ever in the South Bay, go enjoy something decadent and think of me. Don’t forget the latte!


Satura Cakes
200 Main Street, Los Altos, CA 94022
(650) 948-3300 saturacakes.com

Monday, June 27, 2011

Catching Up


Ah leisurely coffee hours, how I’ve missed thee! Sorry that it’s been a while since my last post. Life has started moving to a new beat these days and I’m still figuring out how to keep up with its rhythm. I’ve been working on something to share here but wanted to update you a bit before that post goes up.

Change is a great thing and there’s a ton of it on the horizon for me (and this blog). It’s going to be a transitional summer, filled with prep steps as I ready myself for a whole lot of new. New surroundings, new duties, new everything. There will be lots of coffee to be had and plenty of opportunities to indulge my needs to travel and discover. Before then, well, there’s now. And now’s been a bit busy….

Soon I’ll tell you more about this crazy next chapter. And I’ll let you in on the caffeinated spot where I’ve been spending most of my time these days. I’ve got bunches of shots on my camera that are dying to organize themselves into posts and there are so many more cafés and local eateries out here that need to be hit up before the summer is over.

Until then, here’s a recent latte, sipped at the Coffee Gallery on the North Shore. I’ll give you more details about this coffeehouse soon, too. Just thinking about it stirs up cravings for one of their yummy macarons. Here’s the violet-grapefruit one I munched on last time.



Coffee Gallery
North Shore Marketplace, 66-250 Kamehameha Highway, Haleiwa, HI 96712
(808) 637-5571

Friday, May 20, 2011

A Time for Tea


At the Tea Farm Cafe in Moili’ili, you’re greeted simultaneously by the person behind the counter and a rather imposing wall of teas. A few dozen black, green, white and oolong teas and several tisanes stare down from their orderly shelves, samples that showcase how different each one really is. Pick up a canister that intrigues you, shake it around, smell it. Pick up another… and somehow eventually decide which one will fill your cup. 

I like popping off all the lids and looking at the leaves. So many different colors and textures. Fuzzy white tea needles; large, crinkly oolong leaves; the uniquely-colored Golden Monkey tea. Each would brew up a completely different tasting liquor. Which way should we go today?


Brooke wanted to try a green tea, so I scanned the shelves, looking for a good one. Ooh, they have Dragon Well! I grab the canister and just as I start singing its praises to her, the owner, too far away to hear me, suggests she try the same tea. I knew I liked this place…. Brooke’s sold, so he starts preparing her cup.


I’ve always been fascinated by Dragon Well (Longjing, in Chinese). First of all, it’s a visually beautiful tea, both before and during infusion. Its leaves are pan-fired flat, looking almost as if they’d been ironed, all neat and tidy. While brewing, they open up and seem to regain their pre-plucked freshness. (Indeed, Brooke’s leaves looked vibrant, as if they were dancing in her cup.) And its liquor? Rich, nutty, gorgeous.

I actually had wanted to visit Hangzhou, the land of Longjing, while I was in China. The thought of wandering along the banks of its West Lake enchanted me. And drinking a steaming cup of Longjing tea at its source? What could be better? Here are a couple of Wikimedia Commons photos to show you just how lovely this corner of China really is.

This one’s by Jakub Hałun
And this one’s by Louisa Salazar

Okay, back to Honolulu now….

As for me, I decided to go the pu-erh route. Hey, if Brooke was going to have a magical tea, so was I. After hearing my pick, the owner asked if I wanted the loose-leaf pu-erh or some from the cake he had in the back. I only ever had pu-erh in the solid form, whether chipped from a large cake by a friend of a friend at his Oakland apartment or the cute, individually-wrapped mini cakes from Peet’s. So yes, cake please!


Pu-erh’s an amazing tea with a deep, earthy taste that, unlike most teas, actually improves with age. It also seems to have an acquired taste, as Brooke wasn’t nearly as fond of it as she was her Dragon Well. Okay, I’m fairly certain she hated it. But in my digging around the Internet, I’ve found some passionate pro pu-erh folks, including the man who created this amazing homage to the dark tea.

While Brooke’s tea leaves were sprightly and alive, mine were a bit lethargic, choosing instead to sit there and quietly steep. It didn't brew up as darkly as it could have, but was still nice.


To make things fair for my tea after posting those lovely Hangzhou pics, here’s a shot of a tea field in Yunnan Province in China, where pu-erh is grown, taken by a Flickr user called inyucho. Check out his “Sets” but be prepared to experience major travel-envy….


And here’s a shot of the pu-erh and plum bubble tea that I had at Chamate (一茶一坐) in Shanghai. So good!


As my tea continued to brew, the café slowly started filling up with people. But instead of being energized by this patron infusion, the atmosphere remained calm and quiet, with most seats filled with college kids studying. Silent cafés seem to be a Moili’ili thing, in my experience. Still, it was a pleasant setting to catch up in, so we were happy.

Being a thoughtful wife, Brooke decided to grab an iced green tea latte for her husband before we left. She also had a bunch of tea questions for the man behind the counter, which gave me a chance to shoot them without being noticed….


Coffee or tea? Given the name of this blog, I’m sure you’ve figured out that I usually opt for the former. Every so often, though, my taste shifts teaward. It’s nice to know there’s a spot out here to sit and watch the leaves brew.


The Tea Farm Cafe
2600 South King Street, Suite 106, Honolulu, HI 96826
(808) 945-2679 theteafarm.com/cafe.asp

Monday, May 2, 2011

Memory Sipping


I’m really not sure when I stopped drinking flavored lattes. I guess to the coffee purist, they seem somehow… wrong. But how is a café mocha okay and a hazelnut latte not? Or perhaps mochas are also on the taboo list….

Back in my early coffee drinking days, I loved ordering almond lattes. Something about the smell of the orgeat syrup as it warmed up in my drink, mmm. That scent memory had nearly been forgotten until last Sunday, when I ventured out to Kailua to check out ChadLou’s.

The first thing I spotted on their drink list was the Kula Latte.  Kula’s an area on Maui known for growing lavender, and the drink brought together lavender with a bit of vanilla. Hmm, I like that blend in a body cream, but would it work well with coffee? The lavender-strawberry macaron I had the other day was great and all, but I was still skeptical so I asked the barista about it. Customers seemed to like it, he said, but he wasn’t fond of it. Yay, honesty! Then what drink did he like? Keeping in the flavored latte genre, he suggested going for the almond-raspberry.


Sipping it, my taste buds shot me back to my first café job in Charlottesville, Virginia. My fellow baristas and I would experiment with the syrup rack when it was slow, coming up with inventive lattes and Italian sodas. The winning concoctions were then written on the “Drink of the Moment” board we posted next to the counter.  I’m sure almond-raspberry was an early pairing, before we started experimenting with more bizarre flavor combos.

Actually, this shop has the same basic feel as my C-Ville café, with local art displayed on the walls, live music some nights and a variety of funky seating options, including couches. 


Couches are a necessary element in a great coffeehouse, in my opinion. It’s social seating, urging people to comfy up for a conversation. Why aren’t there more couch cafés out here? 


According to their website, one of ChadLou’s big draws is their ice cream sandwiches. A frozen case filled with tubs of local favorite Dave’s Ice Cream sits next to a pastry case stocked with cookies. Pick a pair of cookies (mix and match flavors, whatever you like), choose your ice cream (the ube or purple yam seems to be a popular choice, making for a pretty-colored dessert) and then yum away! I’m not sure if I could do ice cream and a coffee at the same time. Well, affogato is a different story. Wait, that sounds good right about now….

Honestly, this is the kind of coffeehouse I’d like to see more of on Oahu. The independent, quirky kind. Sophisticated coffee is great, and may offer up a superior cup, but if I don’t feel like I can settle into a seat and write or meet up with a girlfriend and split something decadent, I won’t go back often. If only I lived closer to this one….


Here’s the view from the street.


And here’s the building across the street. ChadLou's is in Kailua’s slightly more industrial area.


 Since I was in Kailua, I also stopped by FatBoy’s. I’m addicted to their garlic chicken.


Then I drove around aimlessly for a while listening to Hawaii Public Radio. It was a random but good afternoon.


ChadLou’s
45 Kihapai Street, Kailua, HI 96734
(808) 263-7930 chadlous.com

FatBoy’s Local Drive-In
301A Hahani Street, Kailua, HI 96734 (There are other locations around Oahu)
(808) 263-2697

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sawatdee Kah Oliang!


I love Thai food. I love coffee.  But strangely enough, I’d never had Thai coffee before last Saturday at the Thai Songkran Festival at Kapiolani Park. Being won over by the charms of Thai iced tea years ago, I never had any desire to stray. It was finally time to give its coffee counterpart a chance, so we scanned the festival's food tents until we found one that was selling iced coffee.


After a few stirs of the straw, I took a sip. Hmm, not what I expected. It was sweet and…different. A couple more sips. Is this really coffee? It had a similar aftertaste to Thai iced tea. Could she have given me the wrong drink? Or somehow mixed a coffee-tea hybrid? Another sip. Nope, it’s coffee. Interesting.  

Curious, I decided to look things up when I got home. Thai iced coffee, or oliang, is often made from a powdered mix that contains coffee and a few other ingredients. The Pantainorasingh brand, for example, is made with 50% coffee, 25% corn, 20% soybean and 5% sesame seed. Ahh, that explains things a bit.


Of course, there was more at the festival than just iced coffee. Next was the daunting task of choosing between all of the tempting food options prepared by members of the Wat Buddhajakramongkolvararam, the Thai Buddhist temple in Pearl City. 


Brooke and I decided to split the Pad Thai and the Som Tam (green papaya salad). It was interesting to watch the colorful ingredients come together to make our meal. Skilled cooks, fresh ingredients and the right amount of chilies made for a nice lunch in the park.