The spacious take-away store on Sarika-Nang Rong Road is ideal for visiting gourmets with limited time. It's a one-stop-service joint where more than 200 options of regional treats made with ingredients from the province are on offer.
Among a wide range of savoury and sweet items, best-sellers include a unique variety of preserved seasonal fruit such as maprang, kraton (santol), madan (garcinia), makrood (kaffir lime), mafueang (starfruit), tamarind and mango. These fruits are available in pickled, dried, candied and chutney versions with prices starting from 35 baht per packet.
Another popular delicacy here is gai yang nang krob, or crispy skin grilled chicken. A whole chicken is priced 150 baht, or 80 baht for a half, and comes in a neat cardboard box.
Fans of traditional Thai cuisine may want to buy the ready-made gravy of gaeng som (sour and spicy, shrimp-based orange-colour soup) available in a sealed bag, to which customers can just add vegetables and seafood and enjoy. Or try some of its nam prik (chilli paste dip) that comes in various styles.
Sri Sunee shop is at Ban Yai junction, Sarika-Nang Rong Road, Muang district. Tel 037-311-529, 089-748-1423.
RICE AND ROAST
If you're a connoisseur of khao moo daeng moo krob, you can't afford to miss checking out this 32-year-old shophouse eatery. At the shabby open-air joint, which is always packed at lunchtime, the red barbecued pork (moo daeng) and the roasted pork with fatty, crispy skin (moo krob) offered with rice or noodles are the speciality. A regular order of rice topped with a combination of the succulent barbecued pork and slightly salty crispy pork, salty sweet gravy, a quarter of boiled egg and a bowl of piping hot clear soup is priced 35 baht. The pork is enjoyed with homemade roasted chilli oil which is very fragrant and fiery but not at all sweet.
Ann Pochana is at 16 Sarika-Nang Rong Road, Muang district. Tel 037-312-261, 089-455-2443. Open daily 8am-3pm.
A small back road leading to Wat Udom Thani is where the city's most scrumptious moo satay, or grilled curry pork on bamboo skewers, can be found.
The pork satay station is an addition to the original pork noodle shop which is also respectable. And the satay can be eaten in or taken away.
Priced 100 baht per set, it consists of 20 pork satay skewers, sweet peanut curry dipping sauce, sweet and sour fresh cucumber relish and toast. The yellow-coloured pork, well-marinated with curry and leavened with coconut cream, is grilled to order over a wood fire to yield a very succulent and flavourful munch, with or without the tasty peanut sauce.
The moo satay station is at Doo Dee Saveoy noodle shop on Udom Thani Road (near Wat Udom Thani). Tel 037-312-412.
FAME AND FRAGRANCE
Another famous dainty from Nakhon Nayok is khanom guichai Ban Na, or Ban Na market's chive dumplings made with fragrant chives (guichai) stir-fried with Chinese seasonings, then wrapped in a rice flour sheet before being steamed and eaten with vinegar-infused dark soy sauce.
There are several khanom guichai makers in the area claiming to be "the real one", but the oldest and most respected is Je Ngor which was established in 1950s and has since inspired many copycats.
Guichai Je Ngor has been cherished for its thin supple skin and hefty stuffing. Choices of filling include chives, yam bean, bamboo shoot and taro. A box of 13 dumplings is priced 50 baht.
Guichai Je Ngor is behind Talad Ban Na, Tesaban Soi 10, Tambon Ban Na. Tel 089-926-5121, 037-383-097.
GUMMY AND YUMMY
Since I sampled khanom thuay (pandan-coconut cream dessert in ceramic saucers) and khanom tan (toddy palm cake wrapped in banana leaf) from a small corner shop at the front of Ja Khoon eatery, my expectations when it comes to traditional Thai desserts have been raised.
Compared to that of most joints which are usually stiff and sugary, khanom thuay here (20 baht for seven pieces) offers a unique pleasantly gummy texture and the right fusion of salty and sweet tastes. While its yellowish-orange khanom tan (20 baht per bag of five pieces) is very fragrant, memorably supple and juicy yet not too sweet.
The traditional Thai dessert shop is at Khrua Ja Khoon, Military Academy Road (Highway 3052).
Run by a young husband-and-wife team, the coffee house set in a contemporary cubic structure amid a lush green garden on Rangsit-Nakhon Nayok in-bound road is considered by many caffeine addicts as the place for best coffee.
Don't miss its iced cappuccino (45 baht), while sampling its iced chocolate (45 baht), homemade orange cake, green tea cake and chocolate cake (35 baht per box).
I-Sure Coffee is at Km69, Rangsit-Nakhon Nayok Road (Highway 305), Muang district. Tel 081-683-6363.