Bangkok has a dynamic street food scene that’s as much a part of the city as its architecture. At any time of the day and indeed, any time of the night, you and your rumbling belly are guaranteed to find gastronomic satisfaction at one of the city’s street food stalls. Street food in Bangkok is delicious, cheap, and eat-on-go convenient. Street food is also one of the best ways to be a part of the local culture. However, knowing what to eat and how to eat from Bangkok’s street food stalls can be a tad intimidating, especially if you’re a foreigner. We’ve put together a few guidelines on how to deal with Bangkok’s street food, so you won’t have to just point at dishes and smile sheepishly. So, go on, get acquainted with Bangkok’s street food and pack your bags for travel!
What Street Food Means in Bangkok
There are food stalls in every part of the city, especially in very busy areas. Some street vendors operate around the clock, and some operate in groups, so you get a different meal each night if you visit them. Street food can be served from a humble cart, or from a group of stalls, or even a home inn, with tables and chairs spilling out into the verandah or the curb. All of these types of outside eateries come under the header of street food.
How to Identify Street Food Types
Most street stalls stick to a menu, specializing in specific dishes only. Watch what kinds of ingredients are being used, and with that input, work out what a particular stall is selling. It sounds rather outlandish to do it this way, but it’s far better than mumbling questions in English and getting nowhere. So, for example if you see a cart with a display of chicken legs, hot wok on the stove with oil boiling, just put two and two together and come up with fried chicken with fancy sauces.
Walk by the street stalls and take a deep breath; allow the multitude of flavors to enter your system and make their home there. Watch the vendors busily stirring their ingredients in ancient woks. Hear them pounding away at meat and veggies, smell the meat grilling on skewers or noodles boiling away.
Some Amazing Street Food You Must Try
Give the following street food masterpieces a try, and you simply won’t regret having done so.
- Chicken or pork, grilled on skewers over hot coals: Gai/Moo Bing
- Fish barbecued in salt (it won’t taste too salty): Pla Pao
- Fried rice, made using either chicken or vegetables: Khao Pad
- Noodles cooked with delicate shrimp in a flavorful sauce: Pad Thai Kung
- Papaya salad dressed with spicy and tangy native herbs and vinegar: Som Tam
- Pork stir-fried with fresh basil leaves: Pad krapao moo
- Sour Issan sausage, cooked with vinegar: Sai Krok Issan
- Steamed chicken on rice, flavored with native herbs: Khao Mun Gai
Learn the Basics
Food in Bangkok isn’t how it is in western countries. Here, vegetables and meat are usually accompaniments to rice, noodles or bread. Given that, it’s best to get an inkling of how many kinds of noodles, rice and local bread are available, and what’s their significance.
Rice and Curry
One of the most popular food staples consumed in south eastern countries is rice, eaten with various curries. Rice and curry is usually referred to as ‘kaao laad kaeng’. Learn to pronounce this term so you can always ask for rice and curry and enjoy a fulfilling, cheap and wholesome meal.
Assorted Food Plate
Some stalls sell what can only be called assorted foods. These stalls will have several tin trays, each containing something or the other. The items could be cooked meats, veggies, and fruit, and sauce, toppers like herb mixes or things like that. You need to know enough about the items to be able to point your finger at what you want in your plate or bowl. You pay for the number of items you order, so it’s fairly easy to keep your assorted plate budget friendly.
Noodles are an extremely popular staple in Bangkok. You’ll find many kinds of noodle stalls around Bangkok. The basic ingredient in the noodles is rice or durum wheat. They come in various shapes and sizes to make them more fun to eat. Manufacturers churn out chicken, egg, duck noodles and so on. These noodles are steamed, and a variety of toppings are added, such as red soy bean paste with fish balls, red barbecued pork, squid and morning glory, beef and meat balls and several other combinations.
How to Choose What Kind of Noodles to Eat
There is so much choice at noodle stalls that it can be confusing as to what to choose. Here’s some help:
- A not-so-wide flat rice flour noodle: Sen Lek
- A transparent and rather thin and wiry noodle made of soya bean flour: Woon Sen
- A Flat and wide rice noodle: Sen Yai
- Pork, minced and boiled and wrapped in yellow dough: Gieow
- Small twisty rice vermicelli noodles: Sen Mii
- Yellow noodles made of egg and wheat flour noodle: Bah Mii
Decide on what kind of noodle you prefer, and then you can decide whether you want soup (naam) noodles or eat them dry. Once you’re done with that, pick out suitable cooked meat from the display on the stall, to eat along with your noodles. A tray of condiments containing sugar, dried and ground chili, fish sauce, ground peanuts, and vinegar with chili will be available. Try a bit of each with your noodles and soon you’ll develop your own taste.
[Book Now: Bangkok tour packages online]
Eating noodles using chopsticks, on a street that’s humid with steam from cooking, and watching the busy public doing the same – it’s a unique experience. The streets are cleaned out every Monday during the day; this is the only time that the food stalls won’t be available. Otherwise, they’ll be there day or night, fragrant with meats and vegetables and noodles and rice.