Innard beauty Shortly after a doctor at Bumrungrad International Hospital, in Bangkok, Thailand, had diagnosed me as having high cholesterol and about an hour-and-a-half before I was scheduled to eat an amazing 11-course meal (not including the 12 appetisers) at the No1 spot on Asia's 50 Best Restaurants list, Gaggan, I found a street-food vendor selling one of my favourite Thai snacks: grilled chicken skewers.
But these weren't regular chicken skewers - he was cooking something that I search for every time I visit Thailand, but don't often find: grilled chicken tails. Also on his grill were the intestines, liver, heart and gizzards of the bird.
I remembered what my doctor had just told me - that I should watch what I eat and avoid innards of all kinds, because they are high in cholesterol. Feeling just a bit guilty but deciding that, because I'm so rarely in Bangkok, I should indulge, I ordered the tails, hearts, intestines and livers, handed over 40 baht (HK$9), asked for a small bag of the sauce (the vendor reluctantly gave it to me, saying it was very spicy) then took my treasure back to where my husband and I were staying.
It was an excellent snack. The thin intestines were overcooked and chewy, so I didn't eat them, but I loved everything else. I described it to my Facebook and Twitter friends as "Thai street food yakitori", but it's brasher and more strongly flavoured than Japanese chicken skewers: the meat was brushed with a sweet-salty sticky glaze, and the sauce, while just as spicy as the vendor warned me, was smoky and savoury because it contained charred chillies, garlic and fish sauce.
A Thai friend who lives in Bangkok later told me this street food is called kruang nai gai yang (grilled chicken innards). She also informed me that Thai people call chicken tails chicken asses, even in print.