First of all, thanks to all for the tips on where to eat in Thailand. They were all immensely helpful in my chowing with the new bride, Mrs. Joypirate.
We stayed 5 nights at the Century Park Hotel near the Victory Monument BTS stop. Didnt really try any of the food at the hotel restaurants aside from some competently made room service once or twice (shrimp cakes w/plum sauce were a bit bland, glass noodle salad w/prawns was ferociously pet pet and quite delicious, new brides pad thai was good as well). WHy are their so many Italian restaurants around? The breakfast buffet was included in the cost of our room, and as it had a nice international menu, we took advantage almost everyday and I am happy to say I had congee for breakfast more times than I can recall (perhaps it wasnt the best congee in Bangkok, but even after 5 days or so the novelty of readily available congee for breakfast never wore off).
Im sad to report that the Montien Riverside's New Years Eve river cruise featured rather atrocious western fare (through several phone calls I was unable to find out in advance what kind of food it would be, if I knew it would have been mostly western Id have bailed from the start). Foodfirst, Ive come to trust your recommendations fiercely so I assume you havent tried their particular offering in this area. Specifically, they started us with a salmon-wrapped spongey-white substance (resembled the Banquet frozen chicken pieces from my youth) with a rather disagreeable green sauce (not pesto, not basil, not sure). The next course was a lobster bisque w/mussels. This I enjoyed, actually. Really good mussels and a strong lobster taste. The main course was a lamb chop (overcooked, and overseasoned) and some crab skewers which were actually just more of the spongey-Banquet frozen chicken matter with no taste of crab to speak of. We were given Pomelo sorbet to cleanse the palate and discovered that either we a) dont like pomelos, or, b) this was bad pomelo sorbet, or c) pomelos simply dont lend themselves to sorbet. It cost $100 per person, the most we spent on anything, and that didnt even include a champagne toast at midnight or anything to drink besides water (it didnt even include coffee for crying out loud). On top of that, at midnight, you could buy champagne from them, but only by the bottle, they didnt even have a by-the-glass offering.
Things got dramatically better Im happy to report. We did some good stall eating in several areas. Near the river ferry stop near the Grand Palace we got some great food. I had some mussels w/a red chili sauce and some beef ball soup, and the new wife had some green curry w/chicken. Later, closer to Wat Po I grabbed some whole-fried crabs also delicious.
We went to a sit down place in Patpong (something ending in Phrik I think) and my Tom Yum w/prawns was very good, as was my Pad Kee Mao, the new wifes chicken larb was all gristle, literally, very off-putting.
We found Mango Tango in Siam Square and were not disappointed. Mrs. Joypirate ordered a Mango smoothie, and I ordered the eponymous Mango Tango, featuring a mango custard, a bit of mango ice cream, and some fresh mango. Raves all around. By the way, they dont sell the t-shirts they wear as uniforms.
MBK was a hit for the non-red meat eating new wife so we went there twice (tip, avoid the throngs and take the escalator up in the Tokyu store, rather than in the mall). Both times everything was wonderful. She again had a green curry w/chicken, and I ordered a wonderful spicy seafood noodle dish. The second time she tried to order the spicy seafood noodle dish I had ordered the first time but the language barrier got in the way and she got something quite different than what I had. The second time I got a beef ball soup which was good, but of comparable quality to stuff Ive had here in Boston which isnt to say it was bad, just not quite as mind-blowing as some of the other items were.
Quick question about green curry, a few menus said it contained peas but we swear they were caperberries. Is this right?
One night, after doing some site seeing we stopped at the Oriental Hotel and had drinks on the terrace. There is probably only one time in any mans life when its acceptable to drink excessively fruity drinks and it is perhaps on his honeymoon in such a tropical area. This was a VERY impressive list of fruity cocktails. Ive read about cocktail competitions and what not, but never actually drank anywhere that WON those rather esoteric contests. Upon perusing the lengthy drink list I narrowed my choices using 2 criteria, 1) my drink must have won an award, and 2) my drink must contain lychee juice. I was not disappointed (I believe mine was called the Andaman Sea). We also ordered some chicken satay to snack on which was good enough but I was more struck by how good an idea it is to have satays as a bar-menu item (and only satays chicken, shrimp, beef, lamb or vegetable) than by how good the satay itself was. Genius, and yet quite affordable.
Mrs. Joypirate fell in love with fried coconut balls. I think we first had these walking around the Sukhumvit area. We ended up at a beer garden here as we couldnt find any non-seedy looking bars and though it was rather touristy, they made the best grilled squid Ive ever had. Actually, the entire trip I was constantly struck by the freshness of all the squid I ordered and the way its texture was spot-on every time.
I also had a bag of sweet green tea which was good. I was a little concerned that the woman making them didnt really take the proper precautions with the non-potable water but all went well and it was tasty. Oh yeah, it would have been good for someone to mention that if you order a sprite or coke from a sidewalk vendor that they may decant your drink from the glass bottle into a plastic bag w/a straw and ice (again, ice perhaps not composed of frozen Evian). The first time someone did this to me I rather abruptly told her I wanted the bottle, not sure what she was doing till we pieced together the relative value for them to keep the bottle for the deposit. A bit embarrassing for me at first but after awhile we happily drank down several bags of sprite or fanta.
We then headed to Phuket for a few days to stay at the Amari Coral Beach Resort. The facility was great, the rooms had sort of 1960s in the Catskills feel to them with 2 twin beds pushed together to form a king, lots of lime green paint, and a giant console radio/light switch panel alongside the bed. We ate at their Thai restaurant Kinaree once and it was fine. On several occasions we ordered their green curry while poolside. The multi-ethnic restaurant Rim Talay was fine as well. Both spots are beautiful (though youd think open-air restaurants would invest in citronella candles or torches or something but no such luck) but for comparable money, Baan Rim Pa was vastly superior (more on that in a bit). Their breakfast was rather mediocre.
We ate twice at the beachside stand on Kata Beach. We had a truly delicious Som Tum green papaya salad, a great pad thai, and some competent though somewhat boring fried rice w/squid. Three times we ate at Dang Restaurant behind the majority of the Patong beach shops (though still somewhat touristy with a lot of Australians about). We fell in love with the chicken with coconut milk soup and the fried chicken w/garlic and black pepper (I wonder if this is anything like the Soi Polo chicken?).
One day we went sea kayaking (heading south off of the coral beach south of Patong Beach) and ended up at what must be the dream of all Chowhounds, a tiny seaside shack of a Thai restaurant only accessible to motorcyclists or random seafarers (though no docks mind you). I think it was called Dou Dum or Dum Dou or something like that. Delicious squid and spicy fried noodles. Wow.
Once here and once at Dang we tried the local fritters w/honey. Good but not amazing. We tried both banana and pineapple and both sounded a lot better on paper than they were, worth trying I suppose. Also, along the dessert lines, we tried the pancake (crepe) stand (we counted 3 scattered throughout the area) and werent too impressed, its a very egg-y tasting crepe, too egg-y in a raw egg-y sort of way. The Patong area also has a roving woman with her children selling the sesame balls w/creamy (taro?) stuffing. Again, Mrs Joypirate is a sucker for all manner of deep fried dough items.
A general note on drinks. The establishments we went to do not make mixed drinks strong at all. Its like they follow the drink-mixing guide by the book and only put in one shot in a gin and tonic or whatever else theyre making. The hot weather cried out for gin and tonics but I gave up and eventually just committed myself wholly to Singha beer. (Chang beer sucks, I found, and Leo Lager was better than Singha, but Singha was more prevalent, Singha Gold once arrived to us frozen, which sucked but pushed us back to the Singha original). They also sell these malt-beverage wine-coolery things called Cruisers and Nite. No one should ever order these ever. You should, however, order at least one drink out of a pineapple, if only to do it once.
The Phuket trip capped off w/a visit to Baan Rim Pa, which was as amazing as wed hoped. Anytime wed tried to pay more for a better meal it failed except here. They made lots of Thai classics and improved on them the only way you really could better ingredients. The Tom Yum Goong was made with many delicious blue prawns. The Mee Grob (crispy, herbed vermicelli) was texturally amazing, unlike anything wed ever had. I ordered the black pepper Andaman Lobster and it was complex and delicious with the Beverford Shiraz from Australia. The lobster was 2200 baht, by the way, the priciest thing we ate while there. Mrs. Joypirate, consummate curry lover that she is, went with their Gaeng Garie Gai (Yellow Curry with Chicken) and again, it was sublime much more rich and textured than any other curry wed had, smoky and interesting. Coconut ice cream and strawberry ice cream for dessert.
We spent one last night in Bangkok at the Asia Airport hotel before our flight home and were disappointed by our choices at the night market food stalls in the area (near the big mall with only computer and software stores). We had two very poorly seasoned noodle dishes and I ordered what I thought was chicken in a Pandanus leaf, but it turned out to be a very, very strong smelling fish paste that Im sorry to say seemed too much for me. Oh well, it was time to go home anyway.
All in all everything was amazing, a fantastic honeymoon, thanks again for all your tips!!!