Each and every weekend tens of thousands of Thais and tourists waddle through Chatujak Market, which I'm told is the world's largest weekend bazaar. Regardless, it's huge, and wading through the sweaty current of humanity makes one hungry. This being Thailand, there's food everywhere -- but much of it the the hotdog-and-rubbery-meatball-on-a-stick shit that I'll never, ever eat. Life's too short for bad sausage.
Behind Chatujak proper is the JJ Mall, and across the traffic jammed street from that mall is a parking lot. Every Sunday evening people drive pickups loaded with antiques and old wood from upcountry and sell them there in the dark. I've been to this 'flashlight market' a few times in the past few weeks, looking for interesting pieces for my restaurant. And in going there I stumbled upon a restaurant called Big Krok. (Krok is the Thai word for mortar and pestle.)
This is not an exemplary Isaan restaurant. They do a few things well, including char-grilled fatty beef dipped in a spicy, sour jiim jeeow. And because I was eating there with my manager/friend Thanapat, I ate some things that I usually don't in Isaan restaurants. Like a plate of crispy grilled cow udder, which almost has the texture of squid (not as gross as it may sound) and a fiery salad of mint, beef blood, chili and tripe.
But what is most memorable about this place are the truly massive mortar and pestles that decorate the front of the shop (see above) which are used to make papaya salad. That, and the frightening male members above them, which are a common sight upcountry but are rarely so prominently displayed in Bangkok. "They're there to make lucky," Pat said as he ate some chewy, very beefy meat. Then he looked back again, laughed, and shook his head.