At the hotel in Hat Yai, I felt at home- at the lobby: I saw ( and heard) fellow Malaysians , Malaysian newspapers were on the racks, in my room : TV3 was on the telly, out in the streets : most of the vendors can speak (some) Hokkien or Mandarin, stalls selling Bak Kut Teh and Thong Sui ( sweet dessert) etc ..
I weren’t sure where our dinner destination was supposed to be, but when our car stopped in front of a posh looking restaurant with a water fountain and some nice chandeliers , host A said to host B ‘oh, this is not where I meant, we came here with XX customer, I said to go to where we took YY customer, that open area seafood place, you remember ?’ ..so off we went..good bye posh restaurant…
Hello ..Chong Khao Seafood ..Open air dining area, swaying palm trees, light breeze, low lights, smoke free environment…but that there were also flaws in heaven — the occasional screech from tone deaf singers from the Karaoke lounge opposite the road and the sound of traffic
Steamed squid – wow, what a start to a meal . the squid was fresh, sweet and at just the right level of chewiness to be considered an enjoyable chew and not to be a chore-ish chew. The sauce was major Yumm – I don’t know what they have in this but I saw – bits of chili padi, garlic, lime, maybe some fish sauce. Long after the last piece of squid was fought after , the plate was retained because we loved the sauce so much and use it with the other dishes too.
Snails – I think these were steamed, in a no frills fashion, just plain snails with no fancy side dish to distract us. We poked our forks into the fleshy ‘foot’ at the opening and pulled , trying to ‘fish’ out the rest of the crustacean…if you are lucky… a clean pull and you get to dislodge the flesh from the shell. Toooiiiiinnnggg..curly crustacean stuck to fork..Hurahhhh…..juicy, tasty and firm meat. Wow. This was good.
Stir fried mixed vegetables – broccoli ,black fungus, baby corn, asparagus, carrot stir fried in a sauce that is a bit too sweet for my liking..Upside was that the wok-hei ( wok fire) , vege was cooked just right.
We had fried rice with our meal, this was average, nothing to shout about …
Throughout dinner, only 2 topics were discussed : 10% : this guy at our table getting periodic updates from his friends on his blackberry on Red shirts situation in Bangkok & 90% : debate on which are the 8 teams that will qualify for the 2010 World Cup..
Fried Ang-Cho ( red) fish – hmm…I think the cook might have forgotten to use some ingredient, the fish seemed to be fried with oil without any flavoring. The fish on it’s own was neither sweet nor with any distinct taste, making this a rather tasteless dish, it was over oily too. What a waste !
Seafood SomTam- springy fishballs, chewy squids, sweet prawns, black fungus , onions, etc etc served with tung hoon ( vermicelli) in a fiery yet sour, sour yet sweet gravy. Seemed like a weird combination – but it works ! YUMMM. This is said to be a popular dish for drinkers. One of my host mentioned that his wife can do a mean seafood somtam ( and that was why they got married) . The sauce is made up of : fish sauce, lime, sugar, vinegar and salt.
Grilled squid – I think some kinda caramel or syrupy thingy was applied /poured on the squid while they were being grilled over a slow fire..squids were fresh, chewy but not elastic, and both the squids were laden with eggs..the coating on the squid can be a bit too sweet but the freshness and texture of the squid made this flaw rather insignificant
Overall a rather good meal, top 2 dish ; steam squid and I can’t decide between seafood som tam or snails.
Chong Khao Seafood
Address : 551 Suphasan Rangsan Road, Amphoe Hat Yai, Songkhla
Telephone : 0 7424 4060