Thai Temple Food on Sundays
Wat Mongkolrata Temple - 5306 Palm River Rd Tampa (813) 621-1669
On Sundays at the Thai Temple they sell food. It’s open air market style.
The food is absolutely authentic, portions are generous, and prices are more than reasonable. They only take cash here and I don’t think there is an ATM. The most expensive dish I saw was $8.00. It was a huge bowl of noodle soup filled with beef and dumplings and the most delicious broth. They sell chicken with red or green curry, sticky rice, fried bananas, tons of desserts and many other things that I have never seen before but can’t wait to try.
If you are looking for something different that the whole family can enjoy, check this place out one Sunday. Let me know what you think.
I've been visiting the market for at least five years now, it's popularity has exploded over the past two. Here are a few tips:
-This is a fundraiser for the church. The church members buy the food with their own personal monetary donations and prepare & resell the food, with the proceeds going directly to the church.
-as the OP stated, this is cash only. they do have an ATM, just ask. There are also public-use bathrooms.
-before you go, take note of the holiday schedule at www.wottampainenglish.com to see if you're going on a day that will be significantly busier with special events and processions. Things like lunar new year can actually be an even more fun time to go and experience the culture beyond the food.
-Arrive as early as possible. The place really jams up around 11-12 and they start running out of some of the curries pretty soon after.
-If you're looking for a tasty fresh-made dessert, make sure you pre-pay for a box of coconut custard cakes right when you arrive as the supply is limited. they take some time to cook all the orders with only two griddles so you write your name on a box and pick it up later, so you can eat other foods and the custards are hot and ready for you when you're ready for them :) located on the back deck, next to the thai tea stand (PS $1 thai tea)
-there is also a produce + garden area where you can buy homegrown vegetables and greens as well as many different types of plants and fruit-bearing trees at different ages. Orchids, succulents, ferns, citrus, herbs, chili bushes, houseplants, they have a lot.
-generally you can go inside the temple and look around, or sit in on a service if one is underway. take your shoes off on the front steps before entering.
-if you're a boater, there is a dock that you can access from palm river. not a bad lunch stop for a sunday on the water.
-the pad thai is not what you're used to. It generally isn't garnished or seasoned as strongly as western-style pad thai. some may consider it plain. It is along with the other hot food (curries, rice, etc) at the steamer tables on the far end of the back deck. if i'm not getting soup, i usually like to do a 3-choice combo with pad thai as the base and pumpkin curry + larb gai (minced chicken + mint) on top. i believe this is $7 for a full to-go box with 3 items. $5 for a 2-choice in a smaller box. make sure to grab a couple of fried spring rolls ($1 ea) while you are at this station.
-if you're a sausage fan, they have some killer thai sausages on the side deck area ready for you to take home and work with. super tasty, something like 10 different seasoning ingredients (the lemongrass gets me every time). they are pre-cooked. they sometimes also have thai beef jerky.
-must try items? all of them! my personal favorite is the beef soup - gui teow. i stop in regularly just for it, in, eaten and out in 10 minutes after the crowds disperse around 1pm. but all the items that i've specifically touched on in this post are noteworthy. this is good ol' thai home cooking.
food stations in general, in order of appearance when coming from the parking lot:
-desserts, sticky rice, pastries
-prepared foods, papaya salads, fish curry with rice noodles & herbs, thai sausage, fresh rolls, jerky
-after the prepared foods but before turning left, sometimes they will be deep frying whole tilapia at a small wok station.
-fry station - battered & fried sweet potato, plantain and taro (or you can just buy the crunchy fried batter bits)
-beverages, thai tea, coffee etc
-coconut custard and other specialties
-soup station (my favorite) you choose pork or beef (beef wins every time) and sometimes you can choose thin or wide noodle. large or regular, $7 or $5 respectively. the beef soup is stellar, well garnished and so tasty. def approachable to a layman who has never had an oriental soup before besides wonton or egg drop.
-hot food line - curries, pad thai, fried rice, fried appetizers like spring rolls etc.
-**off the deck next to the garden section is the BBQ where they grill really great meats, thai seasoned. usually chicken & pork options, skewers and chicken quarters.
-garden section, described above.
i think this sums up the basics. if you have any questions feel free to ask and i will try to answer :)