On a recent trip to Bangkok, I was awed by this incredible city, ate extremely well, enjoyed the many temples (wats) and other sites, did some amazing things, and met some wonderful people. I also learned how to acclimate to the heat, and that meant enjoying Tao-Teung, an unusual iced dessert.
Thailand is said to have three seasons: the rainy season, the hot season and the cool season. This maybe true of the northern regions of Thailand, but not Bangkok, where, the temperature pretty much always sits at 86 degrees Fahrenheit or above, year-round.
To beat the heat, I took breaks as needed, stayed hydrated with plenty of water, fabulous iced coffees and teas and blended fresh fruit shakes, so I could keep on enjoying the sites.
I also discovered tao-teung, a refreshing Chinese iced dessert. (You may also see it called tao-tungsten or nam king sai.) Tao-teung cooled me off one evening after a non-stop day of sight seeing and wonderful meals with generous and knowledgeable Thai friends.
On the day I discovered tao-teung, we’d visited four of Bangkok’s incredible temples, including Wat Prayoon, for which my friend’s father was the architect involved in the restoration of this beautiful and important UNESCO site. We’d enjoyed a luscious, extravagant meal at Thanying, one of Bang Rak’s top restaurants. We also happened upon a street parade of puppeteer groups from around the world at the start of an international puppet festival, and later that evening, relaxed over comforting and insanely satisfying bowls of noodle and wonton soup and a plate of roast duck and greens at the noted noodle house, Prachak, also in Bank Rak, near the Shangri-La Hotel.
We wandered up the street to a food stall where my friends said I had to try tao-teung.
Each tao-teung stall is different, offering a variety of toppings that can include kidney beans, sweet corn, millet, water chestnuts, sweetened yam, ginkgo, nata de coco (fruit jellies), and dried or candied fruits. Usually lotus root and lotus seed are added as well.
Some spots will let you choose as many toppings as you want, or pay per toppings. Some stalls limit you to three toppings.
My toppings were added to a bowl, then topped with a big scoop of shaved ice and sweetened with longan water (longans are a fruit similar to lychees) and brown sugar. Some places douse the dessert with sweet syrup or coconut milk instead.
The best way to find this refreshing iced dessert is to scope out food stalls as you whisk along Bangkok’s city street. — Story and photos by Nancy Zaffaro, RFT NW Wine, Brews, & Spirits Editor
If You Go:
Tao-teung stalls can be found throughout Bangkok, including in Bang Rak and in Chinatown.
Prachak Restaurant, www.prachak.com