by Ben Reeves
I'm going to let you into a little secret. Don't tell anyone, though—It'll just be between you, me and the other 29,999 Trader readers. The thing is that I am secretly a nine-year-old.
The fact is that I still enjoy a good chocolate milkshake. As a grown man, I am now supposed to eschew such childish beverages and instead drink tea or coffee during the day and something alcoholic in the evenings. While I'm perfectly happy with the alcoholic bit, I can't get my head around the insistance that I act like a grown-up and limit myself to those options, one of which is as deplorable as the other. I can just about manage to force down a cup of tea if I load it with sugar, but there is not enough sugar in the world to make coffee drinkable!
There is a really good reason why people sip those drinks when they used to guzzle down milkshakes. The elephant-in-the-room is that tea and coffee are not especially nice while milkshakes are fantastic! So why should I stop drinking them? Just because society says so? Sod that!
Why specifically "nine-year-old"? Well, I have fond memories of being taken to McDonalds in the UK when I was about that age (around the mid-1990s) and having their chocolate milkshakes. That was immediately set as the standard to beat. I'm not even sure how they made them, but they were thick, creamy and ludicrously chocolatey. I had to really exercise my tougue to create enough of a vacuum to suck the stuff up the straw, but not even cramps would stop me trying to get at the wonderful stuff!
Imagine my disappointment when I got to Thailand and found that what McDonalds have here is "iced chocolate". For those not expert in milkshake identification and appreciation, iced chocolate is to a good milkshake what low-sodium sugar is to the real stuff. It may be the same colour, but the taste and texture are both wrong.
So began my search for the perfect Pattaya milkshake and the hashtag "#SecretlyA9YearOld" was born. My search is specifically focussing on the bistros and small restaurants of the city. Starbucks—aside from cheating and calling their drinks "frappuchinos" instead of the 'milkshake' it clearly is—is Starbucks. It'll inevitably taste just the same here as it does anywhere else in the world and, while they're definitely good, they're not on the same level. It would be like comparing a mass-produced print to the work of fine art it is replicating. And it is impossible to take them seriously with such a silly name.
My first port of call was Simple Simon Restaurant on Jomtien Soi 5. Whenever I'm visiting Immigration (so, at least once every 90 days), I will drop in here for one of their very fine sandwiches or their impressive English Breakfast and, to the amusement of the ladies behind the bar, a chocolate milkshake. The resultant beverage is impressive, which is why I keep going back. It certainly has the creamy texture and strong flavour, but it doesn't quite have the thickness.
Coco's Bistro & Coffee Lounge on Chaiyapreuk Road is another close contender for the top slot. Having recently changed management, their menu has shortened and the quality of their food has improved, with the quality of the milkshakes rising above and beyond anything on the menu. The level of chocolate-ness is probably even above that of McDs circa 1996! The creaminess level, supplimented with cream squirted on top, is also very high. All around, a great shake, but it's still not the one.
Another of my regular haunts is the Took Lae Dee Restaurant in Foodland Supermarket on Pattaya Klang. Their shakes are like their food—cheap and good. However, they can be a bit hit-and-miss, sometimes adding too much milk. This radically reduces the creaminess, the chocolate flavour and the entire experience.
Sadly, the Cadillac Café at The Wave Hotel on Beach Road suffers from the same problem. Again, the quality is very high, matching the remarkable quality of their food. It is so close to perfection in so many ways, but having just a few drips of milk too much ruins it. Milkshakes are a work of art and one bad brushstroke can destroy a masterpiece.
The finest I have found in my ongoing quest was in Benjamit Coffee, which is next to the open ground used for the Soi Buakhao market. I actually had to stop the conversation I was having after my first sip. I was transported back to the McDonalds in the Toys 'R' Us carpark in Clifton Moor Retail Park near York and the golden summer of 1996. I don't know how they did it and I'm afraid that finding out would ruin the magic. All I know is that, if you feel the urge to indulge your inner nine-year-old, you've got to go here!
If you would like to follow Ben's ongoing search for the perfect chocolate milkshake, follow his Twitter feed: @Chindit76