This is more than just a food trip; it’s tripping back in time and deeper into one of the oldest Bangkok communities, Baan Bu, where the residents continue making their living by crafting bronzeware in the traditional, handmade, old-fashioned way.
My Baan Bu highlight was having my accommodations at a homestay right inside the community—a simple wooden house surrounded by a lovely garden. The landlady was delightful, and generous, and shared everything she could make for us, including refreshing butterfly pea flower tea with lemon and honey. I felt like I was taking a trip back in time, to a place where family members still gathered together to socialize.
We needed to spend the night there because we were filming the craft of making khan long hin bronzeware in this community—the one and only place in the world still practicing this ancient art. We recorded the local way of life, capturing it on film, and listened to many stories, including those of a grandmother who told of her experiences living in this area during the bombing in WWII.
I was already floored by the amazing discovery of this little community, but it was taken to the next level when I was introduced to one of the oldest and most delicious beef noodle soups at Kouy Tiew Nue Talad Wat Thong, or “Beef Noodle Behind Wat Thong Market”.
Aunty (Pa) Piak is the 3rd generation family member running this famed noodle shop, which has been in business for 45 years. The original soup recipe came from her grandfather-in-law, and Pa Piak carries on using this same formula—along with a little twist that she’d prefer to keep a secret. She once changed to making pork broth noodles instead of beef, but her grandfather came to her in a dream and told her to continue family legacy or quit making noodle soup. Yikes!
She explained to me that her stewed beef and broth are cooked together in one pot—along with her secret combination of herbs—so the broth is aromatic and memorable. The “un”secret part is the quality of the beef. Pa Piak’s husband’s family was very strict with their food… and their women. In fact, this old Chinese family wouldn’t give support for their women to study or have their own social life, so Pa Piak learned to master the family’s legacy by observing her late husband; learning how to choose the right meat, when to find the best quality meat at the local market, and even how to slice the meat correctly.
It was lucky that we stayed overnight at the homestay, as it was just a mere four-minute walk from the shop, and the shop’s only open between 8:15am and 10am. On our visit we got the last portion of the day. However, the small noodles with fresh and stewed beef (moo sod – moo toon), and the broth remaining at the end of the pot, was so intensely delicious that I didn’t think it needed any seasoning at all. But the cook knows best and she insisted that we add a little of the vinegar that she makes from fermented sticky rice. She proved to be the master, and that half teaspoon of the soft, sour liquid elevated the broth to the next level.
My next bowl will come soon, when I return to spend another night in Baan Bu for more exploring… and noodling!