Monday, 11 April 2011

Street Food in Bangkok

We found it fairly difficult to find street food that weren't noodle soups in Bangkok. This was no bad thing; we often started our day with a bowl of thick, hor-fun noodles and a choice of duck or goose. Chillis steeped in fish sauce and a little deep fried garlic ensured we'd be carried through till lunchtime. But where were all these som tams, the laab salads, and curries galore? Perhaps we didn't look hard enough; after our binge in Penang our palates were a touch jaded.

But what a way to liven up the tastebuds with a searingly hot seafood salad (above). Raw prawns, squid and little clams were selected from a big tray of ice and dumped briefly in boiling water, before being fished out and then added to a plate. Tomatoes, strips of raw onion, lime, fish sauce and garlic are pounded in a pestle and mortar, then added to the seafood. It was a slow-building heat, leading to proper fire in the mouth.

Our first night saw us meeting up with @NicolaChilton for some street-side eats. It's always great to be taken around a new place by a local, even though you've never met before and Nicola took us for some cracking pork noodles. We then headed off to Soi 38 off Sukumvit, to sample Pad Thai cooked ferociously in a wok, packed full of vegetables and allegedly made with condensed milk. The vegetables had a great crunch and a lovely, smoky flavour to it, without the sticky sweetness you get in London Thai restaurants.

We finished off with sticky rice and mango. The mango was soft and deliciously sweet, while the intensely coconut flavoured rice was light, not like the dense, rich examples I was used to. Outstanding eats.

Another food highlight of our trip was stumbling upon a street food vendor near the Khao San Road. Not a word of English was spoken, and in the end we resorted to pointing at another table's food with a thumbs up. A pork laab, heavy on the shallots and topped with toasted crunchy rice was accompanied with a little plastic bag of sticky rice. Tom yum soup, also with pork, came as a big vat. Sour, spicy and savoury all at once, it was as good as I've ever had it.

Staggering around Chatuchak Market with a raging hangover was pretty painful. The biggest open air market in Asia, it was heaving and hot. I took refuge at a bright cafe, and all they served were Isaan-style salads and Thai sausages. Deep fried chicken tossed with shredded papaya, chilli and limes took the edge off the Sangsom head I was sporting.

It wasn't all good. Intrigued by the 'broccoli and mozzerella pie' and the dessert 'corn pie' in McDonald's, we ordered both to try out. Both were fucking disgusting. We weren't hugely surprised.

8 comments:

Greedy Diva said...

I love trips like this - sounds amazing, I can almost smell it. Love that you also went to Nahm - David Thompsons books have taught me much about Thai cooking, but nothing beats those street stalls.

Greedy Diva said...

I love trips like this - sounds amazing, I can almost smell it. Love that you also went to Nahm - David Thompsons books have taught me much about Thai cooking, but nothing beats those street stalls.

Mr Noodles said...

I have a serious case of noodle envy. And seafood salad envy. But not McD broccoli & mozzarella pie envy!

Mei said...

Reading your blog makes me mouth water. Wish I did stay longer in Bangkok 15 years ago when i went there for my brother's wedding, only had a bowl of their fish balls ho fun before i catch the plane, and it was lovely! Everytimes when i pass those street noodles stall, people keep put me off saying they will upset my stomach... wish i didn't listen...

Oscar said...

dam wish one coud get street food like this in london, i dont really fancy cold pizza crusts on the pavement....

The Grubworm said...

Nothing NOTHING beats food Thai street food. At least not for me. There is something magical about the way those vendors get everything balanced just right, particularly as there are so much strong fllavours jostling for attention. Loving the sound of the Isarn sausage and the larp in particular. Paradise on a plate.

Tom said...

This is an awesome intro. Am randomly going to BK for 6 days and once again you have led the way for me. Tx

shayma said...

those dishes all sound spicy-gorgeous. i miss Thailand, it's been aeons since i last went there...and so hard to find good Thai food here in Canada. x shayma
ps corn pie- ew. emetic. xxx