One of the first posts I wrote for LandLopers was about a favorite restaurant of ours in Bangkok, Thailand. The restaurant wasn’t the most fancy and it probably doesn’t even have the best food in town, but a unique combination of relaxation, atmosphere and yes, even the food came together to make one of my favorite meals of all time. Tempting fate, we decided to see if we could capture lightning in a bottle for a second time and made a date with the In Love Restaurant.
Bangkok is one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world, but at the heart of this great city is its river, the Chao Phraya. Like arteries through a body, the river and her tributaries haven’t just been a feature in Bangkok, they’ve helped define it over the years. It is along this mighty tropical river where the In Love has found a perfect position to capture the true spirit of the city.
The river taxi approaches Thewet Pier with all the delicacy of a battering ram, yet I’ve never seen an accident along the waterway despite the mad driving skills. The neighborhood is quiet, and we walk through the stalls nodding a polite “no thank you” to hawkers selling cans of Orange Fanta in a bag. We don’t have to go far, directly behind the pier rests the object of our desire and the culmination of a moment I had been lusting after for almost five years – a second dinner at the In Love Restaurant.
We sat on the top terrace, a faint breeze offering an all too brief respite from the hot and moist April air. The sun had yet to set, although the purple hues in the sky signaled it was not far off. The radiance of the Thai sunset framed perfectly the architectural symmetry of the Rama VIII Bridge, an oddly beautiful structure giving perspective to the sweeping river views before us.
So far so good, the weather was as perfect as Bangkok can get, in other words it wasn’t raining. I was happy, genuinely happy as I sat there looking beyond the boats towards nothing in particular and salivating at the thought of the impending meal.
In Love is a restaurant after all, and it wasn’t just the views that drew us back. The last time we ate there we enjoyed a dish while not uncommon in its Thai descriptors, was unlike anything I have ever had anywhere in the world. The Thai delight is simply called crispy chicken with basil; a delicious combination of crispy chicken, garlic and rice. I don’t know what there is about this magical meal, but that dinner in 2007 was one of the best I’ve ever had.
I quickly flipped through the menu and started to panic. I had anticipated this most dreadful outcome, but I simply couldn’t believe it had come to pass. Five years is a long time in the restaurant world, we were lucky that the establishment was still in business much less offering the same menu. Before my heart sank completely though, I found it. The name had changed slightly, but I was sure it was the right dish: Fried Rice with Chicken and Crispy Basil.
The meal came and was quickly devoured; it was indeed the same dinner and it was just as great as I remembered it. But I think that night five years ago was special for reasons completely irrelevant to the crispy chicken. It was that feeling of happiness, the feeling that everything was right in the world and nothing could ever go wrong – that is what I wanted to recapture. Our 2007 trip to Thailand was a very special one and since that memorable adventure we’ve experienced our fair share of loss and sorrow; of defeat and deflation. But we’ve also marked tremendous milestones in our lives together and were overjoyed to celebrate our ten year anniversary. Still, I wanted to go back to 2007, a time when I feel like I was more innocent, less jaded. But that’s of course not possible, we change with every passing day – we are never the same person for more than a few hours.
By the time we left I decided that instead of trying to recreate a great memory or remember better times, that we should instead make new memories at the In Love. Rather than live in the past and lament times long gone, I decided it was time to start living for each second and to make those seconds truly memorable, a moment in time to always be in love.