I just started watching Netflix’s new show, Street Food, and OF COURSE the first episode is on Bangkok! Ah, it already made me so nostalgic for my amazing trip to Thailand in February/March of this year. It’s amazing how quickly you miss something from a place you just traveled to.
I lived in Bangkok as a pre-teen and when people ask me what I miss the most about Thailand, I always say the food. I have such fond memories of trying weird soups and balls of seafood and fish. Most of the time I was never able to find out the actual name of any dish, but the flavours still rest on my tongue.
I can’t recommend a better activity in Bangkok than going out trying out street food! Researching the best street food in Bangkok is quite a challenge. It’s also really difficult to find anything on a map. General descriptions typically say things like ‘the blue stall under the bridge behind the yellow sign’. I’m not even joking.
At this point I need to say that one of the most incredible resources out there is Chawadee Nualkhair’s book appropriately titled Thailand’s Best Street Food. 50% of our choices came from this book, and then the other half we got from elsewhere. Without further ado, let me take you through my own journey through Bangkok!
For our home base in Bangkok, we decided on a lovely guesthouse in the neighbourhood of Phaya Thai. Phaya Thai is also the name of the major transport hub here, which is where the Airport Train ends. It is also the western most metro stop in the city. We arrived to the station around 11am and after getting lost and stressed with the windy alleyways of the area, we finally reached our hostel.
Desperate for food, we wandered around the area until we stumbled upon a place serving Pad Thai. Is there anything more iconic than this delicious noodle dish? On the off chance you don’t know what pad thai is, it’s a rice noodle dish. The noodles are stir-fried with various ingredients including eggs, tofu, shrimp, garlic, or shallots. What makes this dish so comforting and delicious is the seasoning and sauce! Fish sauce, red chili pepper and palm sugar are mixed in to create a really unusual flavour. Peanut and lime wedges are usually added at the end. Such a great combo!
On our first night in Bangkok we headed straight to the Mecca of street food: Chinatown. The buzz and life of the area is astounding. Chinatown is the heart of Bangkok street food and offers a crazy, colourful array of specialties. As you might guess, many of the dishes are Chinese or at least a Thai-Chinese mix.
We went to Nai Mong Hoi Thod which specialises in omelettes! These are not just any omelettes, but oyster omelettes! It is as simple as it sounds: eggs and small oysters. I know it sounds rather unusual, but it is so good. There are different variations at Nai Mong Hoi Thod, but the classic was our favourite!
For dessert, we headed to somewhere to eat something a bit unusual for us. Ah Yi Wan Yen serves dessert noodles. They have several toppings and styles, but their most popular is a cold mixed dessert that includes sweet noodles, beans, pine seeds (otherwise known as attap chee), gingko nuts and other things too.
When in Thailand, you have to go to a floating market, am I right? The problem is that many of the markets have become so tourist-centric that they’ve become more or less uninteresting. However, I delved into some research and found that there are still some quite local markets. We decided on Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market, which is just outside Bangkok. The majority of stalls are located on floating harbours above the river, the river being quite narrow. The stalls themselves are amazing as over half the market is dedicated to the delicious street we know and love and have yet to try!
It took a while to settle on something for breakfast because we were overwhelmed by all the options! We opted for a delicious whole fish, as several places specialised in this grilled on an open grill. We also got some (very spicy) papaya salad. And for dessert, of course it was time get some mango and sticky rice! I had missed this so much and have literally craved it for over a decade. So simple, yet so good.
The area of Sukhumvit is my old home! As part of our trip to Bangkok, I made some time to check out my old neighbourhood. Many things looked the same, but I also felt as though the place had developed even more which is crazy to think as Bangkok was already so overwhelming. As a kid I remember going with other kids from our apartment buildings out and about to the mall. We spent some time at the food court at CentralWorld, an enormous shopping plaza.
CentralWorld has grown so much in the past 10 years so it almost looked unrecognisable! For lunch we headed to the new food court, appropriately named ‘foodwOrld’, which is the epitome of modern, sleek and refreshed style. It operates on cash cards, meaning none of the stalls accept cash or regular cards. Most of the stalls are representations of famous Thai restaurants on Bangkok, so everything is actually really great! We go papaya salad (yes, again) and then some fish ball noodle soup. It was all very good, including our dessert! We had two – mango with sticky rice, and then boiled bananas.
Now, turning a different part of Sukhumvit, along soi 38 there’s an open-air food court where you can find some delicious options. It’s cheap, popular and as I said utterly delicious.
And yes, for the third time we got some mango with sticky rice. This time though we got it from a renowned food stall, Raan Khao Niew Mamuang, which has won tons of awards for its particular version. I can attest to this as the mango was so perfectly ripe and the rice was cooked to, well, perfection.
I can’t think of a better way to end our time in Bangkok. It really is amazing how food can have such an influence on us, as it tells the history and story of the place we’re visiting. I’m craving all these dishes now as I sit at my desk in London, and probably will until I manage to get myself back over the Bangkok!
Looking for another local food journey? Why not check out my guide on pintxos in San Sebastian?