On my most recent trip to Bangkok, I finally had the guts to try their braised pork knuckles. I’ve been seeing it for 8 years now, but it’s only now that luck in finding the best one right away finally struck my food trip. On of our chefs, Lawrence, has been building up this “pata” or pork knuckle place for a really long time. He first had it in Chiang Mai, and had it again in a small pushcart in Pratunam…sadly, when we got to Pratunam, the pushcart was gone, but there was a restaurant serving pata on the next stall…he didn’t think it was the same one. Off we went to Sukhumvit 103 for the Tom Yum soup, but I was too drained from eating a hellish hot jumping salad usually found in Isan (one of Thailand’s spiciest food areas). I wanted something not too spicy, and so I went for their pata next door. It was quite tender, but it wasn’t mind blowing as Chef Lawrence said it should be.
Back in Pratunam, I had taken all my shopping load off our hotel, Ideal Residence, situated at the mouth of Pratunam Market. I was so hungry and the restaurant right in front of 7-11 was packed with people. The only thing I could understand were the letters X2…so I got my soda and entered the restaurant to see the pork knuckles and intestines deliciously simmering in front of the stall.
I pointed at the pork knuckle, intestine and egg and gestured the number 1, and the lady led me to a table that was already full except for one chair. I took out my soda and watched everyone eating. What was funny about this place was that it was full…and about 5 out of 10 tables were having DOUBLE orders of the noodles or pork knuckle for themselves. This place must be really good.
My plate was served in front of me with the jiggly pork knuckle skin and jiggly intestines. It smelled so good and looked so moist and tender. The waitress signaled that the chili sauce was supposed to be placed on the pork and so I scooped a few spoons into my dish. It was heaven. The pork knuckle’s meat was so tender and juicy, it would burst in your mouth. The skin was so gelatinous and had a melt-in-your-mouth feel. The intestines were chewy and had a fabulous texture and had a clean flavor. You could taste the spices like five spice in the thick broth and it made every bite with rice heavenly. The coriander added a nice herbal and refreshing touch while the chili-vinegar sauce cut the fat and opened your palette because of the spiciness.
A day after, when we were leaving, I just had to come back for a last meal before leaving for the airport. I had a few minutes left and ran to X2 after my speedy shopping trip at Pratunam market. Mr. Pork Knuckle smiled as I asked him to have a picture. Who wouldn’t fall in love with someone who can make something so fabulous on a daily basis? Definitely, this dish isn’t healthy…but it is something you have to try before you’re too old to enjoy some real good food. Day 2 was less indulgent, I decided to forego the intestines and egg and just went for purely the pork knuckle. Everyone was smiling at me since I was their first customer…a farang or foreigner who was back for more.
This was my best food discovery for this trip. I will definitely miss this dish and will most likely try to recreate it now that I’m back home. But nothing beats a giant, simmering vat of pork knuckles and the sights and sounds of Bangkok in your face.