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.