Street Food Bangkok
CNN recently named Bangkok as the street food capital of the world. For me, street food has been an essential part of my Bangkok experience. Just about everywhere you go in the city pungent smell of chili fills the air. You can find food stalls on the sides of the roads or traditional shop houses with rickety chairs and tables spilling out onto the pavement or stalls in local markets. They provide cheap, convenient and delicious food at practically every time of the day or night – except during the day on Mondays as that is the official street cleaning time when street stalls are not allowed to operate.
Last April, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) made international headlines when it announced that the city would ban street food vendors to make sidewalks more accessible. This was soon after Bangkok’s first edition of the Michelin Guide was published, which included 28 street food vendors. Raan Jay Fai, who runs a tiny shophouse restaurant in the Banglamphu district of Bangkok got the distinction of one Michelin star. The administration has since backtracked, saying street food would still be allowed in Chinatown and the Khao San Road backpacker district, but elsewhere it would be banned except for the new “designated zones and markets”. Thank goodness this has largely still not been enforced. So, for now, it’s still easy to find street food in Bangkok.
If you truly want to experience the local culture there is no better way than savoring the tastes of Bangkok. Choose where to eat by finding the busiest places where you are guaranteed the ingredients will be fresh. Depending on their food specialization you will find vendors grilling meat skewers on open fires, stir-frying in woks, boiling noodles or pounding papaya.
Som Tam – Papaya salad; Khao Pad– Fried Rice; Pad Thai Kung– Noodles with shrimp; Gai/Moo Bing – Grilled chicken/pork skewers and Pla Pao – Fish barbecued in salt Chinese-style noodle soups, fried noodles, and fermented Thai rice noodles (khanom chin), served with a choice of different Thai curries, are some of the most popular.
If you truly want to discover Bangkok you need to eat your way through neighborhoods. One of the best ways to do this is with one of the many guided food tours that that local tour operators provide in the city. The culinary guides will explore local eateries and you’ll taste mouth-watering food, gather recipes, learn about history, culture, and tradition along the way.