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Eating street food is a way of life for Bangkok locals and is on the wish list of every foodie across the globe. Though the government is sweeping through crowded areas to regulate the industry, you can rest assured it’ll never disappear from the bustling city. To find it, all you have to do is follow your nose.
Where to Go for Bangkok Street Food
Street food in Bangkok can be a bit intimidating for tourists, with an exotic array of unidentifiable bites that smell delicious – if only you knew what they are. While tourists have to be on the lookout for hygiene standards, stalls in popular areas are generally safe.
Chinatown on Yaowarat Road is one such spot, and no trip to Bangkok is complete without visiting what’s widely considered one of the best street food districts in the world. As the sun goes down, open flames and sizzling woks combine Chinese and Thai favorites, among fresh produce, seafood and a throng of hungry diners. The Old Town, Banglamplu, has an equally atmospheric vibe.
Victory Monument hosts restaurants, cafes and street stalls for every type of taste bud. Perhaps most famous though, is Boat Noodle Alley, with a cluster of small stalls selling the spicy noodles previously sold by hawkers from boats along the canal. For approximately just 12 baht each, you can eat your fill of miniature bowls and try beef, pork or fish balls with rice or yellow egg noodles.
For a more relaxing journey into the heart of Bangkok street food, wander through Ratchawat Market in the Dusit area. Street carts and food stalls mix with hole-in-the-wall eateries, bric-a-brac shops and friendly vendors. If you love roast duck and Kobe beef noodle soup, you’ll be in heaven here.
Those in the know jump straight off their Bangkok flights and head for the snack stalls. Gai Tod, or fried chicken, is quite an obsession in Thailand. It’s deep fried to a crisp and served with sticky rice and shallots. Tod Mun Pla is another ‘go to’ takeaway – a fish cake made from fish paste, long beans, red curry paste and kaffir lime.
If you love dumplings, Kanom Jeeb is steamed meat with shrimps, shiitake mushrooms and garlic-soy sauce. Fancy a quail egg, sunny side up? You’ll find them everywhere.
By far one of the most popular snacks is grilled chicken and beef bamboo skewers, dripping with tasty peanut sauce. When you’ve had your fill but just can’t stop eating, pick up some steamy, roasted chestnuts for the road.
Noodles, Curries and Soups
Thailand’s signature dish, Pad Thai, took the world by storm a long time ago, but you haven’t tried it until you’ve slurped a it in Bangkok. The taste sensation pops with shrimps, red chilli pepper, garlic, tamarind pulp and palm sugar.
Then, there’s Khao Soi, hailing from northern Thailand. This dish is an aromatic blend of Chinese-style noodles, coconut milk curry, braised beef or chicken and raw shallots.
The Thai version of Sukiyaki is a staple dish, with glass noodles, egg, seafood, chilli sauce and pickled garlic. Another staple is Khao Gang, a curry rice that local’s love to eat on the go, for breakfast and lunch. The king of all soups is Tom Yum Gung, bursting with prawns, mushrooms, lemongrass, tomatoes, galangal and kaffir lime leaves.
The first dish you’re likely to see is Pla Pao, which is whole fish grilled over a charcoal fire. Don’t be put off by the thick layer of salt on the outside, because when you peel it back you’ll find deliciously moist flesh beneath.
Prawn lovers are spoilt with plates of marinating shrimp just waiting to be freshly cooked for you. Don’t leave without trying Goong Ob Woonse, with glass bean noodles, prawns or crab cooked in a metal pot with the flavors of coriander root, green onions and soy sauce.
Visitors with a sweet-tooth won’t miss out at Bangkok food stalls. Try Kluay Tod and you’ll bite into a crunchy batter of coconut and sesame seeds, to reveal a creamy banana beneath.
When it’s mango season, eat your fill of Kao Niew Ma Muang, with fresh slices of the fruit atop sticky rice, drizzled with coconut cream syrup. A ‘must try’ is a Thai crispy pancake, Khanom Buang, with a meringue filling and candied duck egg yolk.
Wash it all down with brilliantly pink, freshly squeezed pomegranate juice, Thai iced tea or Butterfly Juice, made with butterfly pea flower, honey and lemon. Then, you’ll be ready to take a deep breath and start all over again.
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Article written by Nicole Leigh West.