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Evil Penevil

Grandma's Home on Soi 13/3 Near 2nd Road

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Evil Penevil

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Grandma's Home is a small and unpretentious Chinese restaurant on Soi 13/3 near Second Road.  It's enclosed and air-conditioned, so I wouldn't call it a hole-in-the-wall eatery, but it sure isn't fancy.

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It's not expensive, although prices are higher than in similar restaurants that serve Thai food.

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It serves traditional Chinese dishes like you get in mainland China and Taiwan.  If you're looking for U.S.- or U.K.-style Chinese, you won't find it at Grandma's.  Some of the dishes appear to be Thai-style Chinese, but most aren't, just straight-up Chinese.

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It's clear Grandma's Home caters to those who understand and appreciate Chinese cuisine.  The printed menu is in Chinese characters only- not even Thai- but there is a wall menu with text in English.  There are about 45 dishes listed on the wall menu.

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I have never seen another farang eat there.

 

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Mapo tofu (or doufu) is one of the most widely consumed dishes in the world, eaten by millions and millions of Chinese every day.  It began as a Sichuan dish, but has been adapted to other Chinese regional styles.  Many of the variations, especially outside China, bear little resemblance to the fiery, mouth-numbing original.  Mapo toufu is usually translated as "the pockmarked old lady's bean curd" or "pockmarked granny's bean curd," a reference to the woman who is supposed to have invented it.  The waitress at Grandma's asked if I wanted it spicy and I said no.  I'm glad I asked for it shao la ("a little bit spicy"), because what I got was close to my tolerance level. I don't think I would have been able to eat the spicy version.

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Mapo tofu consists of cubes of tofu (soybean curd) in sauce, with chopped scallion added for garnish.  Sometimes ground pork or other meat is added, but not at Grandma's. It was meatless and cost 120 baht, including a small bowl of rice.  A bottle of water was 10 baht.

The overall spiciness in mapo tofu comes from two main ingredients: chili oil and Sichuan pepper.  At my request, they had held back on the chili oil but left in the Sichuan pepper, which isn't actually a pepper but the hull and seeds of a flowering plant in the citrus family. It produces the tingly and numbing "pins and needles" sensation in the mouth (called mala in Chinese) that is characteristic of Sichuan cuisine.  The depth of flavor in the sauce comes from broad bean paste, made from fermented beans.

It was good, albeit a bit too spicy for my plain-vanilla farang taste buds.

 

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Kung pao chicken (gong pao jiding) is another mainstay of the Sichuan kitchen.  You often see it on menus of Chinese restaurants in the U.S., but the westernized version is very different compared with the original.  Outside China, orange juice is added to the sauce and it's sometimes called "Orange Chicken."  Grandma's Home sticks close to the traditional version.

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Raw peanuts that have been deep-fried in the wok before the cubes of chicken, sliced chili and chopped vegetables are added are an important flavor component.  In westernized kung pao chicken, roasted peanuts are used as a garnish, but Grandma's Home does it the right way.  It has a complex flavor profile, combining sweet, sour, salty, spicy and mouth-numbing elements.  It was really good. It cost 180 baht with rice.

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What's called "mustard pork noodles" on the wall menu is noodle soup with pork and pickled mustard greens, the classic xue cai rou si mian.  It's typical Chinese comfort food, made with just a few ingredients: marinated slivers of pork, pickled (aka preserved) mustard greens and noodles, topped with chopped scallion. Shaoxing rice wine, sesame oil and dried chilies add flavor and kick.  A heaping bowl cost 150 baht.  Garlic bean paste and dark vinegar were served as condiments.  I liked it a lot.

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Bottom line:  The Chinese food at Grandma's Home has been very good and I'll definitely be back for more.  I have to stress that it's not a place for westernized Chinese food. 

Also, the translation of some of some of the Chinese names on the wall menu is dodgy to say the least.  What's called "white pheasant" is actually white cut (poached) chicken. "Mei Caikou meat" is braised pork with preserved vegetables.

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The faulty translations make it difficult for anyone who doesn't speak Chinese or Thai to order.   But if you can overcome the language difficulties and enjoy traditional Chinese food without western influences, then Grandma's Home is a good option.

Evil


 

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Tarl

Deadset mate. The places you find sometime astound me. That place is number 1 on my list next trip. Love traditional chinese food and am looking forward to sampling it again.

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