Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Bangkok Street Food

When roaming around the streets of Bangkok on an empty stomach, sampling neighborhood street vendors is a must do for the thrifty food loving traveler. There were some things that I was a little hesitant about at first, because of the following reasons:
  • The language barrier. Sometimes it was tough to order in English, but local consumers who spoke English helped us out. Just remember to be patient and kind, and most likely you will end up receiving what you want.
  • Not being able to tell what specific items were (if signs were in Thai). For example there were deep fried balls of some kind of meat on a stick.
  • Perceived cleanliness of equipment and freshness of ingredients.
  • Not many other tourists around (which actually is a great sign for authenticity).

After a day of exploring the Grand Palace we were starving and stumbled upon a small sidewalk “restaurant” with a large cooking pan set up in front. I took a look at the menu and quickly ordered the vegetable noodles, which cost a mere 30 Baht (about $1 US). A young girl who appeared to be in her mid teens was our chef.

She greeted us with a warm smile and proceeded to cook right in front of us. A few minutes later she presented me with a very generous portion of noodles, which was very tasty and spicy! I enjoy spicy food but after walking around all morning and into the afternoon in 90 degree weather I resorted to adding a little sweet chili sauce to cool it down a bit.

This was definitely an eye opening introduction to the quality of street food offered in Bangkok.

The sky train stations offer some eating options as well. We opted to try waffles at Anne’ Shop, a small stand which we later found out had multiple locations throughout the train system.

It was mid afternoon, so it was probably off peak hours to buy a waffle. The waffles we had didn’t taste extremely fresh, but were decent. They were sweet and didn’t need syrup. One unique ingredient infused into the small waffle was corn. These waffles are a good option for a quick and cheap breakfast snack while rushing to catch the train.

In the midst of the hustle and bustle of congested and exhaust filled Silom road in central Bangkok, we encountered a breath of fresh air … well not exactly, but fresh milk tea! An excited young girl walking home from school strolled past us, taking a big sip of a bright orange iced tea. We immediately turned around and approached the cart she had just left. We smiled and said hello to the woman behind the cart. “One iced tea please” we asked with eager smiles on our faces. She gave us a confused look and replied with a “huh?!?” expression. I looked over to the sign on the side of the cart, but there were no words in English to point to. We tried saying “orange” and “tea”, when finally she asked us “milk?” Yes!! We shouted with glee and smiled. She smiled back and started to make our bright orange masterpiece. Very sweet yet delicious, our milk tea refreshed us and gave us some energy to keep walking around and exploring.

Chatuchak Market is the biggest outdoor weekend market in Bangkok and one of the city’s most famous destinations. It draws a lot of bargain hunting tourists, but I was delighted to see a good mixture of locals as well. After a few hours of browsing, haggling and buying we were ready to eat. There were a few food options all in a specific area away from the shops. We decided to stop at another restaurant with a similar large pan in the front and a shaded seating area behind. I looked at the menu and saw “Dungken Noodle”.

Back home in the states my favorite Thai dish is “Drunken Man Noodles”, and I thought to myself this must be the real deal and ordered it with chicken and a milk tea on the side. The silky texture of the broad noodles was just right and packed a significant amount of heat. It looked so simple, yet was extremely delicious!

So if you ever find yourself in Bangkok or any city for that matter, follow the locals and don’t be afraid to try the street food!

  • It’s a great way to save money when in comparison to eating out at a restaurant.
  • The food is really good and made fresh right in front of you. Be on the lookout for spots with a bunch of locals. Think about the city you live in and where you would want to eat, that’s what they’re doing!
  • Stay away from the flocks of tourists. Some of the restaurants do have good food, but for the most part lacked the authenticity of the food at the stands. They seemed to cater to the foreign palate.
  • There is a friendly and often times family run atmosphere. Always remember to stay calm, be patient and smile often.


  1. Great stuff Pete. Got me feeling nostalgic, wish I was there all over again!

  2. I know right! How good to those noodles look right now??