Southeast Asian Grub Crawl (Cambodian, Laotian, South Indian, Vietnamese)

Monday, April 19, 2010

(My favorites from the crawl. Find out what they are after the jump!)

This grub crawl was put together by Jess, the organizer-dinaire of a meetup group I was in and I must say that I had way too much fun (if that was possible) with like-minded non-snobby foodies. I got the list of the places we went to and recommendations by J so that perhaps you might be able to recreate our magical day of eating authentic Southeast Asian food in Lowell, MA!
My favorite was the 2nd stop hands down. Collectively, the dishes were worthy of a trip in itself!
First stop:
Tepthida Khmer (Cambodian) -This place was pretty good. Thumbs Up.
115 Chelmsford Street
Lowell, MA 01851-2621
(978) 453-1694
ORDER THIS: Natang - an appetizer of curried meat on rice cakes, Loc Lac, caramelized beef with a peppery lime dipping sauce, and Teuk Prahoc Sach Ko, grilled beef w prahoc dipping sauce.

(Amok Steamed catfish prepared in a coconut sauce. Served w/ cucumbers, salad, and jasmine rice-I loved this the most! Reminiscent of Singaporean Otak
(Loc Lac w/ rice Cubed beef or chicken tenderloin sautéed w/ garlic, sugar, and black pepper. Served over a bed of lettuce)-Personally I didn't have this because I don't eat beef but I will say that I heard a chorus of Oh my god's around me. I inhaled it and once again, I am reminded of Singaporean caramelized Sio Bak (roasted pork belly stir-fried with dark soy sauce, chilli and sugar.) Not to be confused with Char Siew/Roasted Pork.)
(Close up)
(Samlah Kako (Traditional) Choice of chicken or fish stewed with green papaya, pumpkin, eggplant, green beans, and other seasonal vegetables)-I liked this, even though the scent of fermented fish was pungent. The tamarind made it tangy enough.

Second stop:
Phien's Kitchen (Laotian)  -THIS PLACE IS MY FAV OUT OF THE CRAWL!!!!
586 Westford Street
Lowell, MA 01851-2932
ORDER THIS: Larb, homemade lao sausage (sai oua) and purple sticky rice 
(People trying to figure out which stop's geographically closer) 
(Sticky Rice-pretty self-explanatory)
(Thum Markhoong or Papaya Salad-I really liked this one, and it was spicy enough for me, which probably means ass-fire hot for most of you out there)
(Chicken salad-chicken, giblets(?), mint, cilantro, fish sauce and a special bitter sauce*--(I wanna guess that it's bile so correct me if I'm wrong since it's bitter and I've seen packets of bile written in Thai/Cambodian/Laotian script at Super88.) Bottom line: it was pretty darn yummy!)
(Mum's homemade pork sausage-Unbelievably good! Has a sweet fragrance-like that of roasted sugarcane)
(Sweetened purple rice with coconut sauce and egg custard-My favorite dessert of the trip-OMG I am craving some right now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Perhaps they put pandan as in as well because I thought I caught a whiff of it)
The people working at Phien's Kitchen were super nice and accommodating. The lady serving us offered numerous seating opportunities to house all 15-16 of us. Thank you very much for your hospitality :)

Third stop:
Mysore Veggies (South Indian)--> Horribly funny name and the lady who works there made lots of xxx-innuendos with respect to the store name-funny! I thought this place was ok because I've had better Indian food elsewhere.
1717 Middlesex St
Lowell, MA 01851
ORDER THIS: dosas, dosas, dosas, all vegetarian menu
(Sounds dirty however you say it. LoL)
(Marsala Chai-was good, not great. I would have prefered it if they strained the spice because I had bits of stuff in my mouth)
(Mysore Uthappam-This was very tasty. )
(A couple of Dosai's, Served with sambar, fresh-coconut-chutney & tomato chutney) 
(Indian Breath-mints-cumin and sugar beads. This might seem trivial but they got the ratio of cumin to sugar beads just right. This is important because too much sugar and it becomes cloying, too much cumin and it becomes a little too bitter and astringent.)
Fourth stop:
pho da lat (Vietnamese)
1575 Middlesex St
Lowell, MA 01851
(978) 275-0022
ORDER THIS: meat hot pot with silken tofu whipped with sugar, chili and lime; special chicken wings, best bubble tea
(We didn't order any of those because at this point, many people were getting very stuffed. Ban Xeo or Vietnamese Crepe-pretty good! I think I prefer Pho Pasteur on this one though)
Sixth stop:
Battambang Market (aka the Bada-Bing)
Central Plaza
125 Church St
Lowell, MA 01852
(978) 454-1128 
TO BUY: unusual ingredients for asian cooking (3 kinds of tripe, every kind of foot, lots of tongue, livers, gizzards, heart, spleen, kidney, "uterus", oxtail) as well as cheap produce.
(R and J)
Like what J recommended, this market is key for innards and cheap produce. They did have guava and instant Vietnamese coffee (hard to find) so I bought some of those :)
In terms of everything else, I find that my local Sup88 (or Hong Kong Supermarket) has a greater selection of Asian produce and spices so I suppose I won't be going out of my way to Bada-Bing anytime soon. I bought a durian rice cake to share. It was hilarious to see the look on everyone's faces when heard that it was durian.

We didn't manage to make it, but try also:
Red Rose (Cambodian)
716 Middlesex St
Lowell, MA 01851
(978) 452-5400
ORDER THIS: saiko ang (grilled beef satay), bok l'hong (green papaya salad), jrok sway (green mango salad), lort cha (fried lort noodles), somlar kari (cambodian red curry).

Alright folks, Until the next time!


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