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Jul 6, 2008 10:11 AM

Great hole in the wall, non-touristy joints in Bangkok?

Hello: We are heading to Bangkok and Phuket for a couple of weeks --- 5 days in Bangkok, the rest in Phuket, and want to make sure we make the best of this culinary opportunity.

Any recs for great, local joints where the food isn't necessarily catered to the expat crowd and is popular with locals? Love to explore Bangkok. Someone on Chowhound has suggestd a 2nd floor restaurant in Pantip Plaza. Anyone been there?

Others? Even food stalls, etc?


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  1. I'm putting together a Google map with some of my haunts. The "cart" pins are pretty much all "local" spots, as are most of the "wok" (food court) pin. The regular restaurant symbols are a mix.

    1. My wife and I were in Thailand, both Bangkok and Phuket, earlier this year. We did extensive research on Chowhound prior to departing and found that Curt's suggestions were spot on. As such, I would rely heavily on his haunts. Enjoy.

      1 Reply
      1. re: anothernotch

        Thank you for your vote of confidence.

        Although I have fallen across a few spots myself, many of my suggestions come from my wife's family's decades of experience in this city.

      2. Nang Leong Market is a treasure trove of both stall and open-air shop food. The market is more than 100 years old and architecturally unique (though it's been renovated to looka bit look any old food court, it's surrounded by old wooden-doored Chinese shophouses). Stellar duck noodles, beef noodles, snacky things, excellent kanom (sweets) from a family-owned shop that's older than the market, curries, etc. The little neighborhood is fascinating, a bit of old Bangkok that's not been tarted up for tourists.

        I wish word would get out about this place bec due to lack of exposure its slowly fading.

        See (yes that's my blog) and the post preceding it, both on Nang Leong. There's a link in the post to an article I wrote on the place for Wall Street Journal Asia with specifics for all the recommended stalls.

        Note - this place is only active Mon-Fri and try to get there by 10, 11a latest .... once the lunch crowd hits the place it's difficult finding seating in the food court. Note also that many of the vendors INSIDE the food court are new and serve not much that's esp spectacular - stick the old-time shops and vendors.

        2 Replies
        1. re: foodfirst

          "The little neighborhood is fascinating, a bit of old Bangkok that's not been tarted up for tourists."

          This little neighborhood is getting a lot of publicity as of late. It should be "tarted up" in no time. ;-)

          I think that it's demise is probably as much due to the latest generation's greed and disinterest. Most don't want to live in isolation and squeak out a modest living.

          Chinatown is a fascinating area. There are many shop alleys that rarely see anyone from outside the hood. Much of it looks like if came straight from a 30's movie.

          Unfortunately, as the older generations pass on, I think so will many of the older, classic neighborhoods.

          1. re: Curt the Soi Hound

            Curt, the BCP renovated the main market square and it does look more like your average food court now, unfortunately. All the old wooden tables and stalls are gone, replaced by stainless steel and tile, much of the fresh food vendors are gone, and many of the new prepared food vendors make the same old fried chicken, noodle soup, etc that you might find anywhere. But there are still alot of second-and-third-generation vendors keeping their standards up to snuff, and that's what I mean by 'not tarted up'. The old spirit house still dominates the market, pple still live in the shophouses around it. It's a far cry from the new Aw Taw Kaw.

            But it made the Nancy Chandler map for the first time this year, so perhaps visitor numbers will rise....

            BTW - most of the established vendors are doing much better than eeeking out a modest living. A movement's been afoot to keep businesses open on Sat and Sun to draw in local visitors (like Don Wai) but vendor's don't care to because they do well enough Mon-Friday. Some of the mobile vendors start at 1030 and sell out by 2pm - as far as they're concerned they don't need the extra business!

        2. For Rad Nah noodles, try Jark Kee. From Victory Monument on to Phaya Thai Road, turn left at Soi Rang Narm.. and then somewhere on the left turn on soi Yothin Pattana. Keep walking and you'll see the restaurant on the right. Sorry that I can't be more specific, but it's very famous for its Rad Nah noodles that you can ask around for direction and someone would surely know. Oh, and be early 'cz their Rad Nah sold out really quickly (11am or 11:30am to 1:30-2:00pm). Jark Kee's Rad Nah is always on my list of must eat when I go back home :)

          1 Reply
          1. re: brooke

            Head over to Soi Chiang Mai on the the Thonburi side for 'Han Palo' (goose stewed in 5 spice, ห่านพะโล้ in Thai ). I recently ate at a place over there where the recipe hadn't changed in almost 100 years.

            There is some good Issan food on Soi Rang Nam. Just tell a cabbie, they all know it. Great place for a meal before heading up to The Saxophone.

            Can't go wrong with a trip to Roti Mataba on Phra Ahtit. In addition to the famous chicken roti, the panang curry is also excellent.