Bangkok - Chinatown Street Eats along Thanon Yaowarat
Did a food trawl of Bangkok Chinatown’s amazing street-side stalls last Sunday. I was armed with a very useful publication – Bangkok’s Top 50 Street Food Stalls by Chawadee Nualkhair, a must-buy IMO if you’re exploring street eats in Bangkok. I was accompanied by a couple of Bangkok foodie-friends who’re born/raised in Yaowarat and now in their 60s– they were familiar with all the entries listed in the guide’s chapter on Chinatown & so could attest to the accuracy of the guide.
Note: We did not hit the seafood stalls which were popular with Western/Japanese/Mainland Chinese foreigners.
The best stalls I tried were:
1) Kapoh Pla Rert Rot (fish maw soup) stall – amazingly tasty Teochew-Chinese-influenced fish maw soup (กระเพาะปลา), served hot in a claypot and delicious to the last drop. A small note on the location of this stall located along the busy Thanon Yaowarat – if you’re standing on Thanon Plaeng Nam at the intersection with Thanon Yaowarat, turn left, and walk about 500 metres – the stall’s parked in front of the Seiko Watch Shop.
2) Guay Teow Lod - noodles with dried shrimps, minced pork, mushrooms, beansprouts, cuttlefish, chopped green scallions and crisp, golden fried garlic. The flat-rice noodles were embedded with dried shrimps, giving it a nice salty tang. I wished I could get this back in Singapore!!
3) Kuaychap Oun Pochana – similar to Singapore or Malaysia “koay chiap” (粿汁) , but the Thai version (ก๋วยจั๊บ) was kick-ass peppery!! Very good wide noodles, and the generous helpings of roast pork or “moo krob” (หมูกรอบ)remained crisp whilst floating in the sharp, pork broth. My friends told me that the stall had been operating there since when they were little girls – a long time indeed as both are now in their 60s. Anyway, the stall is insanely popular, and I can see why_ I'm still dreaming of their Kuaychap now!
4) Pork satay skewers, from a stall near the Kuaychap Oun Pochana - beautifully-textured, subtly-flavored and perfectly-grilled, served with a delicious peanut sauce. One of the best satays I'd ever tasted in South-East Asia - I actualy enjoyed this more than any satays I had in Indonesia during my extensive stay there last year.
Thanon Yaowarat comes alive each evening after dusk, and is one of the most exciting destinations for street food I'd ever encountered - definitely breathing down the neck of Penang for having the world's best street food, and almost certainly surpassing Ho Chi Minh City in terms of variety, if not in taste.
Warning: Many of the stalls (e.g. Kapoh Pla Rert Rot and Guay Teow Lod stalls) are closed on Mondays. Sunday evenings are busiest, and it can be a challenge to get a table/seats.
Kapoh Pla Rert Rot
Yaowarat, Bangkok 10100, TH
Guay Teow Lod
Yaowarat, Bangkok 10100, TH
Kuaychap Oun Pochana
Yaowarat, Bangkok 10100, TH
Definitely, Martha. Next trip to Bangkok-Yaowarat, I want to try that legendary Pad Thai stall on this little side-street off Thanon Yaowarat, which serves the "real" stuff - not the fancy-schmancy pork/prawn-embelished version doled out to foreign tourists. The pad Thai here comes in a smallish portion, garnished simply with egg, beansprouts, chives, flavored with tamarind, chillies and sugar.
Also would like to try that famous Taechew fish porridge behind Grand China Princess Hotel. All my Teochew friends & relatives from Singapore will make a beeline to that place whenever they visit Bangkok.
Pad Thai is Thai..... It is a more modern dish (but) created to create a thai version of fried noodles sold at street level. All food evolves. I have read puritans argue some ingredients used today are not Thai, but then Thai Chilies are only a couple hundred years of use here (brought by Portuguese from the Americas), tomatoes -- same, Eggplants - also not native to Thailand, wok frying - from china, coconut bases from curries ... from India... Similarly for "Italian" cooking, and others.... People are funny creatures that for odd reasons get themselves tied into knots trying to act as if they are the authority of all things x.
Thanks for introducing me to the general board, now I am telling people to kill themselves :o.
Saw a thread in there about reading the label of the coconut cream/milk can...... Can't stand the stuff, in fact a few years ago my mother told me she did not like coconut milk so I bought one can of coconut milk and made a batch myself. I had my mother taste the fresh batch and she changed her mind and loved it (mother is more of a italian chow hound) -- The taste difference between canned and fresh is considerable.
Here in Thailand no restaurant would use canned (although some home cooks will because it is easier (fresh turns bad quickly -- i.e. less than a day) - they just have it delivered.... in non-coconut countries they have to take the effort.
It was funny, just ran across a posting about canned coconut milk and reading the label.... It is one of my pet peeves, since canning alters the taste of coconut milk considerably.... almost as much as a thermos does with a latte :o I friend was staying at my place and I made a couple of lattes and placed them in a thermos to keep them hot for when her friend came over -- since I did not teach her how to use the machine...... It was surprising how much it changed the taste in a matter of hours.
That may be because you haven't read the threads like those on Italian-Italian vs American-Italian vs Italian-American food; or those regarding the origins and variations of "Chow Mein" in Chinese-American/American-Chinese vs Chinese cuisine...etc etc etc. Or the disputes regarding the meaning of "authentic" and whether it has any meaning at all.
"I want to try that legendary Pad Thai stall on this little side-street off Thanon Yaowarat, which serves the "real" stuff - not the fancy-schmancy pork/prawn-embelished version doled out to foreign tourists."
I read in a post elsewhere that the difference between authentic food in Thailand (for natives) and the tourist version (presumably anywhere in any place) is that the tourist gets higher quality meat or fish, with everything else- the prep, the spicing - being the same...
The following is a pretty good recipe (it is a thai version - and it includes prawns and pork) -- in fact I have never heard of Pad Thai NOT being made with pork in it...although you might not realize it since it is not necessarily obvious. Can also be made with dried shrimp.
Pad Thai Sauce
2 tablespoons palm sugar
3 tablespoons tamarind sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
1. Pad Thai Sauce: Cook palm sugar in a wok until brown and bubbly. Add tamarind juice and fish sauce then mix well. Cook for a few minutes until it thickens to a syrup consistency.
Pad Thai Sai Khai (Fried Noodles with Egg)
-- Fried Pork --
50 grams lean pork, thinly sliced
1 cake firm tofu, cut into small cubes
1 tablespoon thai garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon thai shallots, sliced
50 grams sweet pickled turnip, finely diced
3 tablespoons soy bean oil
-- Prawns --
9 prawns, medium size, shelled and deveined
3 tablespoons soy bean oil, use same oil as fried pork
-- Noodles --
300 grams narrow dried rice noodles
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon soy bean oil
-- Stir-Fry --
3 eggs, cracked in a bowl
pad thai sauce
1 teaspoon ground dried chili
1 tablespoon ground peanuts
500 grams bean sprouts
50 grams chinese chives, cut into short lengths
1 tablespoon coriander leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon spring onions, chopped
2 tablespoons soy bean oil
-- Garnish --
1 lime, cut into 3 wedges
1. Fried Pork: Heat oil in a wok over medium heat. Add tofu then stir-fry until light brown, which will take approximately 2 minutes. Add garlic and shallots then stir-fry together with tofu until flavours are released while making sure not to brown. Add pork and pickled radish then stir-fry until pork is cooked, which will take approximately a minute.
2. Prawns: Heat the same oil from the pork in a wok over medium heat. Add prawns then fry for approximately 30 seconds. Flip the prawns over then fry until the prawn's tails turns pinkish red.
3. Noodles: Heat oil in a wok. Add noodles and water then stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes until noodles are soft. If fresh noodles are used then the cooking times and water will be less.
4. Pad Thai: Heat oil in a wok making sure to coat the sides of the wok with oil. Pour the eggs down the side of the wok so that the eggs coat the side of the walk starting approximately half way down from the top of the wok. Bring yokes together in one corner of the wok then break the yolks. Add noodles into the centre of the yolks. With a spatula flip the noodles and eggs so that the eggs are on the top. Set some of this egg aside for decorating. Add pad thai sauce to the noodles then mix well. Add the pork then mix well. Add ground peanuts, ground chilies and prawns then mix well. Make a well in the noodles and add bean sprouts to the middle then sprinkle with chives, coriander and spring onions. Mix well then turn off the heat.
5. Serve: Decorate with egg. Serve with coarsely crushed peanuts, chinese chives, lime wedges and bean sprouts on the side.
6. Condiments: Hot chili flakes, sugar and fish sauce.
Not sure about the quality of meat being higher... Often restaurants that serve tourists primarily will dumb the food down to the lowest common denominator... which in turn will make it a little more bland.... and you will end up paying more for that experience. Of course a western oriented restaurant might actually use different cuts of meat (i.e. chicken breast vs thigh/leg etc.) but then I always find it strange that westerners often like the breast more than other cuts of the chicken - it has less flavour (although easier to work with). If what you said for true - these foreign oriented restaurants would have better tasting food... which in most cases is completely the opposite. Or maybe lower quality meat tastes better :o
As far as higher quality fish - popular places with Thais will often have very high quality fish - they have high volume bought fresh daily.
Thanks for your comments.
I was wondering about that statement by the poster. The poster has now added a clarification to say that the meals compared were stuff they ate at "prearranged restaurants" where their tour group (as well as other tourist groups) were, and they sampled the food that their tour guides, bus drivers, ate too (presumably at the same time).
BTW - yes, I saw that recipe for Pad Thai you also posted on that thread regarding the authenticity of Pad Thai and which klyeoh also refers to further up on this thread. Nice one.
finding all your posts on india + se asia extremely useful, klyeoh. thanks!
>> Bangkok’s Top 50 Street Food Stalls by Chawadee Nualkhair
any chance you know a good place to pick this book up? even used copies go for > $75usd on amazon (and don't ship fast enough for my needs...)
lots of answers on where to find it on the author's web site: http://bangkokglutton.com/bkk-top-50/
"once you get into Thailand, you can get a copy of the book at the airport or Asiabooks, most reliably the one in Emporium."
the newer version of the book (at normal prices) comes out in october 2014.