I recently learned that my favorite gui-chai maker, Hia Buay, stopped making his fares – for good, due to his age and the family decision to halt him from any hard works. Hia Buay had a heart operation not too long ago and his five children all live in separate homes, thus inconvenient for them to gather like before and put in their labors kneading and making traditional gui-chai dumplings. The result is me, among many of his fans, left high and dry when craving for the very delicious traditional gui-chai dumplings.
(Above – A very good Thai sweet shop on Toedthai Street of Talad Plu)
My idea of good, traditional gui-chai dumplings must have perfectly textured flour if, when made from fresh rice and not from ready made ‘fresh flour,’ gives distinct yeasty aroma that immediately brings me back to the old days queuing for this snacks in front of my schools at young ages. I fortuitously found Hia Buay’s gui-chai several years back when shopping at Chatuchak; his stall, managed by his daughter Gim, offered the dumplings in traditional garlicky gui-chai leaves, bamboo shoots, taro and yam bean roots. The price was modest, at Bt5 apiece and we always bought 2 big packs that lasted us a couple of meals.
Anyway, so he stopped making the gui-chai for a year and I called up his daughter and went to see the guy at his home at Talad Plu on Thonburi. We were lost, lost and lost and finally drove into the small alley of Toedthai Road where Plu Market (Talad Plu) is located. As any Bangkok residents may know, Talad Plu is the name that many gui-chai makers would claim as the origin of their snacks because ‘Gui-chai Talad Plu’ is perceived to be the best, and I guess Hia Buay might had been a big contribution to the fact.
We talked to Hia Buay (stupidly trying to persuade the 65-year-old to continue making the dumplings, but to no avail. But at least we tried). He offered to teach us, though. But the idea of making the rice flour out of the traditional stone hand grinder and kneading the flour according to the daily moisture contents in the air seems like me converting into a fish, so we decided to walk to the market and see if there’s any other good gui-chai stalls available.
(Above – The shop selling gui chai dumplings but nothing compares to Hia Buay’s)
We did find a small shop selling some decent gui-chai dumplings, but nothing compares to Hia Buay’s secret recipes. If anyone wants to make a career out of this traditional dumplings, I can be your liaison!
Anyway, still on the nostalgic route, last week at Central World, we ate at Saen Yod Pochana which is good for their rad-na noodle, roasted duck, egg noodles, wanton soup, stuffed pork legs, kale shoots with oyster sauces and much more. We ate pork rad na noodle, egg noodles with crab, roast duck and crispy rice noodle rad na. All was excellent and affordable.