Bangkok Is More Than Pad Thai
Forget New York, Bangkok is the city that truly never sleeps. Each time I visit, I rarely get any sleep – maybe an hour at most. There is ALWAYS something to do or somewhere to go in this humid, crowded, tropical city. I’ve wandered through Khao San Road alone at night, been harassed at the floating markets, caressed by tigers at the temple and showered by elephants in the jungle. My most memorable experience, however, has to be a cooking class I took one faithful day following a sleepless night of partying.
As a foodie and lover of Thai food, I was curious about having an authentic hands-on experience with the vibrant cuisine. A colleague of mine recommended Sompong Thai Cooking School.
Booking the class was easy. I called the evening before and spoke to the owner in regards to arranging a pick-up from my hotel the next morning. The class lasted four hours and was a reasonable 1000 baht/30 USD. They practically meet you anywhere. Located in the Silom area of Bangkok, it is near the BTS/Skytrain line and the school happily picks you up you from there. The only hindrance is finding your own way back, however that isn’t worth stressing over if your trip is planned correctly.
The school was located off a main street and down a dodgy alley. Upon arrival, I was immediately relieved to see a comfortable and welcoming establishment. Koy (the owner) and her staff were very friendly and the environment felt more like home than a place of business. Even her grandmother was roaming around sorting things out. Not long after receiving a welcome drink and a brief review for the day’s course, we were off to the local market on foot with bamboo basket in tow to secure ingredients for our menu – Masamam curry, tom yum soup, prawn fried rice and bananas in pandan coconut milk.
At the market we were privileged to get a detailed lesson about a variety of Thai ingredients and how to use them in cooking. There was such an abundance of fresh produce and spices I wanted to buy it all. We then had the opportunity to shop for local ingredients to take back to our own kitchens. After the visit to the market, we headed back to the open kitchen and began our course.
Most of the ingredients were already prepped by the diligent staff, but believe me, the brunt of the hard (yet rewarding) work came from the students (including yours truly). Koy guided us through it every step of the process. She gave the do’s and don’t’s for making a proper curry, how to vary the spiciness and informed us the order to cook ingredients as to reduce unpleasant smells. We even made a rose shaped garnish out of a tomato.
The experience proved to be a networking opportunity as well. While grinding out spices, chatting and mingling with other travelers kept the environment festive and light as we were able to learn about each other’s cultures. After all of the food had been prepared, we made our way to the beautiful dining area where we gladly relaxed to enjoy the fruits of our labor. The class was loads of fun and I truly recommend it if you’re ever in Bangkok.
This story was curated by LaToya Jones