You’ll never go hungry in the city of angels. I once read that there are approximately 20,000 restaurants in New York and 40,000 in Paris. Bangkok on the other hand, has approximately 100,000 restaurants and another 100,000 street food vendors. Like I said, you won’t starve. For the food obsessed, Bangkok is paradise- anything you could possibly want at virtually any time of the day. We were in clover. We walked, ate, walked some more and ate a whole lot more. There were snacks, first lunches, second lunches, first dinners and suppers. In the six days we had in this riotous, hot, chaotic, charming city, I felt completely happy and at ease. We heart Bangkok. Below are some of our favourite Bangkok street food vendors and their food…
First, watch our Bangkok food videos…
Mango sticky rice 60-80THB
Soi 38: off the mighty Sukumvit. Get off at Thong Lo BTS station, take Exit 4 and you’re there. Soi 38 starts up in the evenings so come after 6:30pm. Our favourite mango sticky rice stall in the city is here, on the left, about two carts in. You can’t miss the rows of golden mangoes on display.
Note: as of 2016, many of the stalls at Soi 38 are no longer trading as the area is being developed.
You know you’re on to a good thing when you hear the vendor doesn’t open when the mangoes aren’t up to scratch. The mango sticky rice here is extraordinarily good. The fruit is slippery and sweet, the sticky rice is cooked with pandan leaves and the fragrance which infuses the rice is earthy and addictive. The warm rice retains some bite and isn’t overly sticky which I really like. A sweet coconut sauce with a hint of salt is drizzled over the rice and topped with crunchy mung beans. Each bite is full of flavour and texture, the burst of sweet, juicy mango and the smooth coconut sauce are keen reminders you’re in the tropics. TBS devoured three plates straight one afternoon, it’s that good! Durian and sticky rice is available too if you’re a fan.
If you’re a bit hesitant about eating street food, Soi 38 itself is a great spot to take the plunge. The atmosphere is pretty sedate, there are a lot of recognisable dishes and you can hop from stall to stall to sample different bites or park at one of the tables and order from various vendors. The grill stand is especially good if you’re after pork skewers!
Boat noodles 10THB per bowl, 5THB for coconut and cassava puddings
Boat noodle alley, Victory Monument: Take the BTS to Victory Monument. Using the BTS as 6 o’clock, walk clockwise around the roundabout until 11 o’clock. You should be able to spot the ‘Boat Noodle Alley’ sign in orange from the bridge, to your left.
If you have limited time to do reconnaissance for the best boat noodles around Victory Monument head to Boat Noodle Alley like we did. We went to the restaurant on the right just after you come off the wee bridge. Plonk yourself at a table and order away- we stuck to the beef, pork and spicy pork noodles. Each bowl contains about three slurp-able mouthfuls loaded with flavour. Thin rice noodles rest in aromatic broths (the star anise and cinnamon of the beef is especially fragrant) amidst crunchy greens and a few slices of tender meat and perhaps a fishball thrown in there somewhere. The pork crackle and dumpling skins add the crunch factor and are addictive. And as the bowls are so tiny, don’t be afraid to order five or ten at a time. We managed to scoff twelve bowls between us, which wasn’t half bad considering we were just there for a snack!
If the smell of the putrid, fetid river that wafts over once in a while isn’t your thing, there are tables inside, although I reckon the stench adds to the experience! Once you’re full of noodles, help yourself to the tiny dishes of creamy khanom thuai (coconut custard) on the table. They’re a brilliant end to a memorable meal.
Coconut ice-cream 30THB
My favourite vendor around the central shopping area can usually be found near the Erawan Shrine at the Ratchaprasong intersection.
Two years ago, on the last day of our trip, I had coconut ice-cream from this vendor for morning tea. It was a particularly hot day and the ice-cream provided welcome relief. The ice-cream was memorable as it had pandan squiggles (made from rice flour) dotted throughout and it was smooth, creamy and not overly sweet. On this trip, the heat had gotten to me once again and TBS suggested we go and find our gal. “We will never find her!” I wailed despondently. Well, lo and behold, we jumped off the BTS, rounded the corner past the shrine and there she was, pretty much in the same spot as last time. Awesome.
Grilled chicken wings 10THB
On every street corner!
My love affair with grilled chicken wings was thoroughly indulged in Bangkok. The perfect snack and pick me up!
Yaowarat Road: we caught the MRT to Hua Lamphong station and walked. Note that the MRT stops running at midnight. Here are the directions:
When leaving the MRT take Exit 1. You will see the Hua Lamphong Railway station across Rama IV road to your right and Charoensawat Bridge in front of you. Cross the Charoensawat Bridge. At the first intersection (Mitmaitree) take the first exit on the left. Walk 5 minutes until you reach the intersection with the large Chinese arch. Take the first exit to the right and after 50 metres take the left fork. You are now on Yaowarat Road (Chinatown). Keep walking 5-10 minutes to reach the FOOD!
Chinatown is where street food dreams come true. You walk and snack, walk and snack. We had a progressive dinner over about five hours and yes we got progressively drunker as the night wore on. There’s an abundance of vendors selling sharks fin and birds nest soups which don’t really tickle our fancy so we passed on those. And whilst there were definitely a couple of misses, the hits more than made up for them.
Roast-meats-on-rice vendors are a dime a dozen so we had some roast duck on rice, were lured in by some chicken satay, stopped for some sweet durian and sticky rice and ended our dinner at T & K Seafood which sprawls out onto a corner of Yaowarat Road. It’s hard to miss. Here we indulged in a plate of stir fried morning glory loaded with pungent garlic and chilli. Completely delicious. Also grilled prawns which were massive and juicy and chilli mussels which were fragrant with holy basil.
Beer is easy to come by too wherever you happen to be eating- if your particular vendor doesn’t sell beer, they’ll be happy to shout down the road to someone who does and voila!
Bangkok’s street food ignites the senses and leaves you giddy with excitement. Over the course of our holiday not a day passed without us sampling some type of street food. Bangkok is the ideal place to delve into this type of eating if you’re new to it- there is something that will appeal to all tastes, it’s incredibly safe (we have never gotten sick) and it so damn good. Some of the finest Thai food you will eat. Don’t hesitate, just do it, you won’t look back.
Images: Thomas Southam
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