Buying a Take-Away Dinner at a Street Stall

Street Food Bangkok 2023

In Travel, Thailand, Food by tony6 Comments

Featured Image: Buying a Take-Away Dinner at a Street Stall

ORT_Logo   Breadtag Sagas ©: Author Tony,  23 June 2023

This is the  second article on street food. Street Food in Bangkok is the companion article to Street Food in Chiang Mai. Another article on Bangkok is about the Klong Saen Saep Transport System.

The article on street food in Chiang Mai is the 8th article on food in Chiang Mai, to see the others go to Street Food in Chiang Mai.

Street Food Bangkok 2023

Main Points

  • Introduction
  • Food tours in Chinatown and Bang Rak
  • The main areas for street food in Bangkok
  • Michelin Guide recommendations
  • Other trusted sources
  • Final comment
  • Further information and links to other sites
MBK Centre Sign, Pathumwan

2012 MBK Centre Sign, Pathumwan


1 Introduction

In the bustling city of Bangkok, street food culture captivates everybody. A panoply of flavours and aromas were experienced on this trip mostly in the crowded streets of Chinatown and in Bang Rak, in the old colonial European quarter.

Bangkok City Artwork from Baiyoke II Tower 2011 by Tony

Bangkok City Artwork from Baiyoke II Tower 2011 by Tony

With a population of over 11 million in Bangkok, the culinary landscape encompasses everything from modest stalls and budget restaurants to high-end establishments catering to the city’s elite. The humble and the exquisite blur with street food, creating unique food experiences. This applies equally to low income Thais, even though they rely on street food out of necessity, and to those foreigners and Thais who can afford to eat almost anywhere.

The aim in this article is to share our firsthand experiences both past and present, with thorough research and insights from trusted sources.

Intersection Under Skytrain, Pathumwan

2011 Intersection Under Skytrain, Pathumwan


2 Two Tours

In my previous article, Street Food Chiang Mai 2023, I explored the diverse range of food tours available. Now, let’s delve into our experiences during two absorbing street food tours we undertook in different districts, or khet, of Bangkok.

2.1 A Chef’s Tour, Chinatown (Samphanthawong District)

Introduction

As we ventured into Chinatown, the bustling streets and laneways intrigued us.

Woman Painting Chinese New Year Signs, Chinatown

Woman Painting Chinese New Year Signs, Chinatown

It’s worth noting that taxi drivers may display some reluctance to navigate through this area due to the congestion, often requesting a slightly higher fare than the usual metered rates. Within reasonable limits, this is quite understandable. Additionally, Chinatown is conveniently accessible via two nearby metro stops (Hua Lampomg and Wat Mangkok) and the Chao Phraya River express boats.

Chinatown evoked a mix of emotions within me. It exudes an exotic charm, but the crowds and the heat can be overwhelming at times.

2011 Public Art BACC Thailand, Pathumwan

2011 Public Art BACC Thailand, Pathumwan

Nonetheless, we embarked on our four-hour tour, which commenced at 4:30 pm, gathering at the side terrace bar of the Shanghai Mansions Hotel, situated along Yaowarat Road. Our initial interaction with the Shanghai Mansions Hotel left a good impression as a charming boutique hotel. Perhaps, an interesting place to stay in Chinatown. Just around the corner lies Charoen Krung Road, it together with Yaowarat Road and an intricate network of laneways, forms the heart of the vibrant food scene.

Our guide for the tour was Nutth, an amiable ex-chef with a wealth of knowledge. Nutth’s assistant, Champ, proved to be immensely helpful throughout the tour, assisting with bookings and queueing for us. Nutth enlightened us about a forthcoming transformation that upon our return to Yaowarat Road after 6 pm, the street would be abuzz with tourists queuing for food stalls and at various restaurants.


Charoen Krung
Ah Kong Bakery House with Assistant

Ah Kong Bakery House with Assistant

Our first stop on the tour was Ah Kong Bakery House, situated on Charoen Krung Road. Although the signage is in Thai, you can find its exact location with map references in Further Information below. As a Chinese Bakery it attracted a constant stream of customers for its delectable small moon cakes. We indulged in a Thai version of these treats called khanom peh, featuring a delightful pastry and shredded egg yolk, reminiscent of shredded carrot. Even as someone who doesn’t have a strong sweet tooth, I found them absolutely delicious.

Kanom peh, Thai version Chinese Pastry

Kanom peh, Thai version Chinese Pastry

Continuing along Charoen Krung Road we had tasty Chinese chive cakes (David Thompson recipe, p 56 below).

Aroijang Sign, Khao Kha Moo Stall, Stewed Pork Knuckle

Aroijang Sign, Khao Kha Moo Stall, Stewed Pork Knuckle

Next we had braised pork leg or knuckle (khao kha moo) conveniently just across the road from the bakery. As mentioned in Street Food Chiang Mai 2023. This dish was very good perhaps surpassing the Famous cowboy lady in Chiang Mai, but only on a par with the khao kha moo found in the 6th floor MBK Centre food court.

Cooking Chicken Satay with Protection

Cooking Chicken Satay with Protection

In close proximity on Charoen Krung Road we had mouth-watering pork satay with peanut sauce.

Suki Soup with Chicken

Suki Soup with Chicken

Alongside this we were treated to a chicken suki (sukiyaki) vegetable soup, a delightful variation of hot pot. The soup featured mung bean and glass noodles, served with a fiery sauce on the side. The combination of flavours was scrumptious perfectly complementing the satay.

Our Guide Nutth at Take-Away Stall

Our Guide Nutth at Take-Away Stall

Next door to the satay stall, we noticed a take-away counter offering meals neatly packed in plastic containers. Nutth informed us that the vendor would sell an impressive 650 of these meals in a single day. Additionally, we sampled a pennywort health juice called Nam bai bua bok, which I will leave for your own judgment.

Jok One Table, Shrimp Dumplings

Jok One Table, Shrimp Dumplings

Our next destination was a hidden gem tucked away in a back lane — Jok One Table This family-run establishment specialised in one thing: sensational shrimp and pork dumplings.

Making the Shrimp and Pork Dumplings

Making the Shrimp and Pork Dumplings

We could see the family making them. The one table harkens back to when there was only a single table for the customers to dine at, although nowadays there are none! Surprisingly, there were no other customers when we arrived.

Nutth and his Asssistant Explaining the Shrimp Dumplings

Nutth and his Asssistant Explaining the Shrimp Dumplings

It’s worth mentioning that Jok One Table earned a Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand distinction in 2019 (see below). Additionally, this humble eatery has been supported by royalty — two princesses the daughter of Rama 9 and the daughter of the current king.

What All the Fuss is About, Shrimp Dumplings

What All the Fuss is About, Shrimp Dumplings

Nutth shared an interesting historical tidbit in Chinatown (and throughout Thailand) food was prepared for sale by families within their shop houses, each specialising in their own unique dish. Many of these culinary establishments have been operating for several decades, some even reaching the impressive milestone of 50 or 70 years, or longer.

Our next destination took us to a similar example of a hidden gem, Jek Pui Curry, located in a tiny courtyard off Mangkon Road.

Jek Pui Curry Sign

Jek Pui Curry Sign

Previously they operated on the footpath 30 metres away, but were likely relocated due to the government’s periodic attempts close down street stalls.

Sign at Site of Original Street Stall

Sign at Site of Original Street Stall

Jek Pui Curry specialises in one thing, and they excel at it—green curry. However, their style of green curry differs significantly from the traditional Thai version, as it follows a Chinese recipe that utilises distinct ingredients, omitting Thai eggplant and other components.

Jek Pui Curry House

Jek Pui Curry House

We savoured their chicken green curry, which was delicately flavoured yet bursting with taste.

Winter Melon Cut Up Ready

Winter Melon Cut Up Ready

The key non-meat ingredient in this dish is Chinese winter melon, which imparts an extraordinary flavour profile. The curry itself is softer and slightly sweeter, with less coconut milk compared to traditional Thai curry.

A Half-eaten Portion of Jek Pui chicken Green Curry with Winter Melon and Chinese Sausage

A Half-eaten Portion of Jek Pui chicken Green Curry with Winter Melon and Chinese Sausage

While optional, the inclusion of Chinese sausage is highly recommended as it adds a subtle smoky flavor that beautifully complements the wonderful curry. The homemade sausage exhibits a softer texture with milder spices, yet delivers more flavour than the commercial versions commonly used at home. Personally, I found the chicken version of the curry preferable to the pork or beef versions.

The Red Stools at Jek Pui Curry

The Red Stools at Jek Pui Curry

There might have been a couple of other places we visited during the tour, but I don’t recall them distinctly. However, we did have the opportunity to taste fresh jackfruit and durian.


Yaowarat
Nutth Explaining Deksomboon in Display Shop

Nutth Explaining Deksomboon in Display Shop

One memorable stop was Deksomboon, a family success story rooted in their soy sauce production. The family’s enterprise expanded, and in 1947, the company was established. Today, their products include a wide range of soy sauces, mushroom sauces, fish sauces, and other condiments, which are sold worldwide. Their display shop on Yaowarat Road showcases these offerings, alongside an interesting addition — marijuana — infused beverages.

Marketing Marijuana Drinks, Deksomboon

Marketing Marijuana Drinks, Deksomboon

Interestingly, despite the company’s efforts to rebrand their logo and sauces as Healthy Boy for greater political correctness, the locals still commonly refer to them as Fat Boy. In early visits to Thailand there was a brand of toothpaste called Darkie Toothpaste with a stylised logo of a black person. In fine Thai style this became Darlie Toothpaste with the same logo. I think it may now have disappeared.

Fat Boy Soy Sauce

Fat Boy Soy Sauce

Our primary intention in visiting the store was to taste soy sauce ice cream, which unfortunately did not leave a lasting impression. However, Nutth, our guide, suggested trying it with sweet soy sauce as a topping, and this combination proved to be truly spectacular. Denise and I made an impromptu decision to incorporate this intriguing twist into future Asian meals we prepare for our guests, eager to share this newfound delight

Deksomboon, Soy Icecream Machine

Deksomboon, Soy Icecream Machine

Upon exiting the display shop onto Yaowarat Road, we found ourselves amidst a bustling crowd. The street had transformed into a vibrant hub of activity, with queues forming everywhere, particularly at the renowned food stalls, including those recommended by Michelin.

T&K Seafood, Main Room Air-Con beyond, Only Cash

T&K Seafood, Main Room Air-Con beyond, Only Cash

Our next destination was the famous T&K Seafood, a place that appeared to have expanded over time, with its little rooms and peculiar alcoves crammed with serving and washing areas on the upper floors. The establishment was filled to capacity, reminiscent of the labyrinthine kitchens and lower depths of Gormenghast, a fictional castle from a classic novel series. We were fortunate to have our guide’s assistance and a reservation, as gaining entry on our own would have been nearly impossible.

The Little Verandah Outside Where We Ate at T&K

The Little Verandah Outside Where We Ate at T&K

While T&K Seafood is celebrated for serving some of Bangkok’s finest seafood. It was good, but it didn’t overwhelm me.

The Remains of Our Seafood Dinner

The Remains of Our Seafood Dinner

We savoured a spicy seafood soup known as tom yum talay, which proved to be excellent. The flavours were robust, the ingredients fresh, and the spiciness balanced. Additionally, we enjoyed a serving of stir-fried morning glory, known as pad pak boong, which was similar to what one would find in other places. Accompanying our meal were large grilled shrimp, which were undoubtedly good, but not significantly different from what we had tasted elsewhere.

Pa Tong Go, Chinese dough sticks with pandan custard

Pa Tong Go, Chinese dough sticks with pandan custard

Later on, thanks to Champ’s efforts, we were able to indulge in the deep-fried donuts recommended by Michelin in 2018. The stall was also supported by the revered princess, daughter of Rama 9. While this particular treat wasn’t to my personal taste, I can’t provide a fair assessment. However, I found the accompanying pandan green sauce to be intriguing.

Green Pandan Custard

Green Pandan Custard

Continuing our culinary adventure, we proceeded a little further down the street to relish the enticing combination of fresh mangoes with sticky rice.

The Mangoes

The Mangoes

This classic Thai dessert utilises a specific variety of mango and is enhanced by the flavor of coconut cream-infused sticky rice. To add visual appeal, the rice is gently tinted with butterfly pea flowers, resulting in a subtle mauve hue, and topped with yellow roasted mung beans.

Mango with Sticky Rice

Mango with Sticky Rice


Comment

Now, you may wonder why one should opt for a food tour when it’s possible to visit these places independently. My response is that, for a first-time experience, a guided tour offers convenience, an opportunity to learn intriguing details that might otherwise go unnoticed, and a fantastic introduction to both the food and the surrounding areas. Additionally, the cost of most tours is reasonable when considering the overall value. As for future trips, I intend to revisit places like Jek Pui Curry and explore others independently. However, I suspect that I will continue to embark on food tours and happily revisit certain establishments, even those I am already acquainted with.

That being said, it’s important to maintain a realistic perspective and not expect the same level of excitement and novelty during subsequent visits. As is often the case with restaurants, the second experience rarely surpasses the initial one simply because the element of complete novelty is absent.


2.2 Bangkok Food Tours, Bang Rak (District)

Introduction

My knowledge of the Bang Rak area was limited until I embarked on the Bang Rak food tour in 2017. Returning in 2023, I found the experience to be both familiar and different, offering new insights and culinary delights.

Bang Rak comprises the upmarket Silom area and the mixed colonial European quarter down by the river. Our food tour was mainly in the area near the river.

Street Food Vendors, Bang Rak

Street Food Vendors, Bang Rak


2017

During our 2017 tour, we were greeted at Saphan Taksin Skytrain Station by a charming and eccentric young woman who shared her unique perspective on the history and nuances of the old colonial quarter. To our pleasant surprise, she presented us with savoury snacks from her backpack, which turned out to be the highlight of a wonderful tour.

These were miang kham, a traditional Thai snack that offers a burst of flavours and textures in a single bite.

Miang Kham

Miang kham consists of various ingredients wrapped in a bite-sized leaf, typically the cha-plu leaf (a wild pepper and not betel). When you bite into it, it releases a combination of sweet, sour, salty, and spicy flavors, along with a liquid component.

The filling of miang kham usually includes ingredients such as roasted coconut flakes, diced shallots, chopped ginger, lime wedges, bird’s eye chili peppers, roasted peanuts, and sometimes dried shrimp. The filling is often drizzled with a sweet and tangy sauce made from palm sugar, tamarind paste, fish sauce, and roasted coconut. These ingredients are placed on the leaf, folded, and then consumed in one mouthful, creating a burst of flavours.

Miang kham is a popular snack in Thailand, known for its harmonious blend of flavors and the surprise of liquid content that adds a refreshing and unexpected element.

Je Lee Fishball Noodle Stall

Je Lee Fishball Noodle Stall


2023

This time, another young woman, Chanya, led the tour from the same starting point. The focus of the tour encompassed the area’s historical context, particularly its colonial foundations, including foreign companies, churches, mosques, and a Hindu temple.

As a combination of history and food, our tour didn’t cover an extensive number of places. However, the selections were excellent for the area and mostly unexplored by us.

Yentafo, Thai Pink Noodle Soup

Yentafo, Thai Pink Noodle Soup

 

An early stop was at Je Lee Fishball Noodle Stall, for Yentafo or Thai Pink noodle soup. It was new to us and delicious.

Lotus Stem Som Tam

Lotus Stem Som Tam

We also visited a notable som tam (papaya salad) restaurant across the river in a slightly poorer area. Yum Rod Sab provided a pleasant dining experience, where we indulged in crispy lemongrass chicken alongside the som tam.

Chicken with Lemongrass

Chicken with Lemongrass

The som tam we tried was made with lotus stems, a new twist for me, although I must admit that I still prefer the traditional version made with green papaya. Nevertheless, I embrace the opportunity to try new flavours and expand my culinary horizons.

Green Curry with Roti

Green Curry with Roti

One of our stops took us to Kalapapruek Thai Restaurant a pleasant and welcoming establishment, where we tasted a typical Muslim green curry served with roti, which was very good.

Panlee Bakery Sign

Panlee Bakery Sign

Panlee Bakery, since 1950, is a famous place, though not known to us. This Chinese-influenced bakery is meticulous in its organisation.

Panlee Bakery Counter

Panlee Bakery Counter

During our visit, we met some women of an older generation, who shared the rich history of the bakery, spanning four generations. Their dedication and commitment were palpable.

Bread with Pandan Custard and Thai Tea

Bread with Pandan Custard and Thai Tea

We ate upstairs where we had Thai tea and bread with pandan custard.

As someone who typically prefers savoury over sweet, I found the combination delicious.

Happy Staff at Panlee Bakery

Happy Staff at Panlee Bakery

Panlee Bakery is also open for breakfast, a treat for those staying nearby.

Prachak Roasted Duck Restaurant

Prachak Roasted Duck Restaurant

Another stop on our tour was Prachak Roasted Duck, where we enjoyed their renowned roast duck with rice. We had visited this family establishment two days before. Prachak Roasted Duck has been serving customers since 1909 and remains popular among both Thais and foreigners, a testament to its enduring quality.

Roast Duck with Rice

Roast Duck with Rice


Comment

The Bang Rak food tour provided us with an excellent culinary experience. The same company also offers a tour in Thonburi, across the river, which we had hoped to take. Unfortunately, due to the reduced number of tourists following the impact of covid, there were not enough participants for the tour in 2023. However, we remain eager to try it on a future trip when circumstances allow.


3 Key Locations for Street Food

3.1 Introduction

One must remember that street food and good street food is found everywhere in Bangkok. Although this is a guide from my experience and from trusted sources, it is only a guide. There are many other places. Don’t just hone in on the places that everyone wants to go to, because you’ll get stuck in queues and that stifles enjoyment.

Street Stalls, Soi Kasem San 1, Pathumwan

2017 Street Stalls, Soi Kasem San 1, Pathumwan

I’m going to cover a range of locations for this very reason. Go out and explore. The street food is worth it.

Almost since, I began coming to Bangkok in the 1990s the government has been cracking down on street food and trying to corral it to fixed locations. This has been only partly successful. Stalls have been removed from many areas, but the attempt to corral street food into sanctioned places, such as Lumphini Park, particularly for tourists has failed. Nevertheless, the food at these places can be excellent. Before Covid 19 my nephew took me to Talad Rot Fai or train Night Market in Srinakarin which was relatively new and good. It has since closed down but others will emerge.

Locals depend on street food and it will emerge wherever there is a need. For example, some of the areas below are near transport hubs and other concentrations, such as, universities, hospitals and the like.

Google Maps makes everything easy to find. How we coped in the past has become a mystery.

What follows is from a number of sources. But, because Mark Wiens article on sixteen street food locations is more comprehensive than my other sources, I have followed his listing order to some extent. I thoroughly recommend his article and his suggestions.


3.2 Chinatown

I’ve covered Chinatown in our chef’s tour and noted some key places but there are hundreds of others.

Mooncakes for Chinese New Year, Chinese Pastry Shop, Chinatown

Mooncakes for Chinese New Year, Chinese Pastry Shop, Chinatown

Yaowarat Road, Charoen Krung Road and the laneways of the district are famous for their eateries. Locals and tourists alike come here to sample all manner of Chinese delicacies including bird’s nests and shark’s fins.

By night the choices can be even more staggering as roadside stalls take over the street, offering a wide variety of dishes, and competing with the restaurants in the area.

To make things easier, it is best to first try out establishments and stalls with the Aroijang sticker. This means that the food has been reviewed by critics and been judged as worth-while.


3.3 An Alternative to Chinatown

If you are sick of the heat and the crowds in Chinatown, there is an alternative not far away, forming a triangle with Pathumwan (MBK, Siam).

The area is on the other side of the National Stadium from the BTS Station of the same name. It is walkable from there and from the Sapan Charoenpol Pier on the Klong Saen Saep Express Boats. Otherwise, take a taxi.

We are talking about the area along and around Banthat Thong Road from the not quite traffic circle on Rama I down to the park, and really all the way down to Rama IV road. There are dozens of places, some near the Stadium One shopping mall. For the time being the area isn’t crowded and is quite a relief from Chinatown (see below).

Featured prophecy image: Tiger & Crow Mannequins, Shop Display Bangkok

2011 Tiger and Crow Mannequins, Shop Display Bangkok


3.4 Victory Monument

Victory Monument is a major transport hub in central Bangkok with a large selection of places to eat nearby. It is famous for boat noodles but there are many other places as well.

Mark Wiens says:

On the northeast side of the roundabout is the famous boat noodle alley, where you can choose from a variety of Thai boat noodle restaurants, and on the northwest side in the neighborhood, there are more, lesser known, and in my opinion more delicious, boat noodle spots.

He recommends Phahon Yothin Soi 1 just a 5 minute walk north of the monument.

And he likes, Rangnam Alley south of the monument, which is perpendicular to the BTS Station. Mark recommends an Isaan restaurant, Kuang Seafoods especially, and an Isaan foodstall opposite just outside the Esso station.


3.5 Ratchawat/Siyan Markets

Tucked away in the quiet and green district of Dusit, down a road known as Nakhon Chaisi, are two of the most old and traditional markets in Bangkok a kilometre apart. They can be accessed by taxi from Victory Monument

2012 MBK 6th Floor Food Court, Sweet Stall

2012 MBK 6th Floor Food Court, Sweet Stall


3.6 Nan Loeng Market, Banglamphu and Tha Pra Chan

Nan Loeng Market is recommended by both Mark Wiens and A Chef’s Tour. Nan Loeng Market is rarely visited by foreigners, except on food tours, according to A Chef’s Tour. But, it is not far from Democracy Monument, Khao San Road and the Golden Temple at the end of the Klong Saen Saep Express Boat route. From any of these places take a taxi, tuk tuk or motorcycle taxi to the market.

Chef’s Tour recommends walking around this peaceful old district. While Mark Wiens recommends walking in the old areas of Banglamphu and Tha Pra Chan.


3.7 Some More Central Places

Perhaps better known by tourists are Charoen Krung Road, Bang Rak (discussed above) and Silom Soi 20 nearby. Petchaburi Soi 5, and Sukhumvit Soi 38 in Thong Lo are also worth visiting.

Street Snacks, Bang Rak

Street Snacks, Bang Rak


3.8 Thonburi

Thonburi is mentioned by Mark Wiens and many people, in particular Wang Lang Market and Talat Phlu. (You could take a tour with Bangkok Food Tours.)

But, I am sure there are plenty of other places worth exploring out of central Bangkok in Thonburi that are virtually unknown to outsiders.


4 Michelin and Other Trusted Sources

When it comes to individual stalls and restaurants, the range for exploration and discovery is much wider than just these locations. Trusted sources have uncovered wonderful places. There does, however, tend to be an overlap on opinions on the best places to go. This is a double-edged sword because it makes it easy to get wonderful food, but it also means that many others are going to the same places. Queues and reservations can be a problem with street food.

Instant Noodle Display, Bang Rak

Instant Noodle Display, Bang Rak

Similarly, I had mixed-feelings initially about the Michelin Guide’s descent upon street food in Bangkok. However, excellent food places, particularly street food, do need to be recognised and they deserve the additional custom and money reward, as much as celebrity chefs do.


4.1 Michelin Recommendations

It all started with the release of the first Michelin Guide to Bangkok on 6 December 2017. Stars were awarded to 17 restaurants. 14 received one star, 3 received two, but no 3 stars were awarded. In a huge surprise one 72-year old goggle-wearing street vendor, Jay Fai of Raan Jay Fai, was awarded one star. Since then, people queue for hours to get in to her small 7-table establishment. You can reserve, but the place is booked up a month or two in advance.

Her signature crab omelette costs $35 USD and a three-dish meal $75 USD. Yet, who would begrudge her — her success. The food is made with the finest ingredients and the chef refuses to give up cooking the food.

Michelin also awarded Bib Gourmands, in 2017 for quality cooking for 1000 B or less — the street food category — and Plates for simply a good meal.


4.2 Other Trusted Sources

In 2023 Michelin has one 1-star restaurant and 45 current Bib Gourmands. I analysed the Michelin list in comparison with places listed by A Chef’s Tour and others. A Chef’s Tour is very generous as a commercial company with its list of 50 best street stalls to go to in Bangkok. Other trusted sources also list their favourite places. Not surprisingly there is quite some overlap.

Boats Passing at Dusk on Klong Saen Saep

2012 Boats Passing at Dusk on Klong Saen Saep

The Michelin 2023 Bib Gourmand list and the Chef’s Tour list best fifty overlap by about one third. If one added in the Michelin recommendations from the previous five years the overlap would be larger, over 50%. Other trusted sources, while much less comprehensive, also tend to overlap quite a bit.

Some of this may be following Michelin, but in A Chef’s Tour case I suspect it is a two-way process. All this means is that there is some mutual grading for the best street food in Bangkok. The upside is that it is easy to find the good street food places for tourists and locals alike, and it supports the best places commercially. The downside is queuing, crowding and ignoring equally good street food elsewhere.

Mark Wiens is more idiosyncratic and will also send you to lesser known streetfood venues that aren’t crowded, which spreads the largesse to other deserving food stalls and small shophouses. A few others are similar.


5 Final Comment

The two food tours described, the wonderful street food stalls and restaurants mentioned, the locations for street food outlined, the Michelin Guide recommendations and those of other trusted sources are only a tiny fraction of the exciting and delightful street food discoveries that are awaiting you in Bangkok.

I haven’t even mentioned food courts in Bangkok’s major shopping centres and other locations.

I discovered my first food court shortly after my first visit to Bangkok in 1990. The food court was on the 8th floor of a small shopping centre a few streets back from Khao San Road and was called New World. We jokingly called it Coles New World after one of two major super markets in Australia. The food court was a floor full of street food stalls and the food was excellent.

Sadly, only a few years later, I arrived in Bangkok to find the New World a derelict shell. There were fires. The mall had been shoddily built, floors collapsed and seven floors had been illegally constructed. Such things happen in Bangkok. The basement flooded later, mosquitoes bred and the locals released some koi fish which bred up into thousands over the years. Similarly, our favourite seafood restaurant under Pinklao Bridge, a life saver after nearly a year in Pakistan and India in 1995, disappeared shortly after.

2023 Renovated MBK 6th Floor Food Court

2023 Renovated MBK 6th Floor Food Court

We moved our centre of operations in the late 1990s to Patumwan House in Soi Kasem San 1, just across the road from MBK and Tokyu. I discovered the 6th floor Food Centre of MBK and have been enamoured with it ever since. For years the Som Tam stall here was superb, the stewed pork stall (khao kha moo), the Muslim chicken with yellow rice stall were excellent and others were equally good.

On returning in 2023, we found that Tokyu (a Japanese department store) had closed in 2020, MBK was half empty and the food court though renovated was smaller than before. Nevertheless, the food was the same. Although I’m not sure the som tam was as good.

There are similar food courts in other malls which vary in quality and atmosphere, and in many other places. Surprisingly, both airports have quite decent food courts. Suvarnabhumi’s hidden on a lower floor is called Magic Food Point. Don Muang food court is on Level 2 between the two terminals (there is supposedly another small one somewhere else).

Street food is everywhere in Bangkok. Enjoy!


Key Words: street food, Bangkok, food tour, Chinatown, Bang Rak, Michelin Guide, Bib Gourmand, trusted sources, David Thompson, Thai Street Food, A Chef’s Tour, Bangkok Food Tours, Ultimate Bangkok Food Tour, Mark Wiens, stall, restaurant, district, khet, Charoen Krung Road, Yaowarat Road, Nutth, Ah Kong Bakery House, khanom peh, Shanghai Mansions Hotel, khao kha moo, pork satay with peanut sauce, suki soup, Jok One Table, shrimp dumplings, Jek Pui Curry, green curry, winter melon, Chinese sausage,  jackfruit, durian, Deksomboon, Fat Boy products, soy sauce ice cream, T&K Seafood, seafood, tom yum talay, stir-fried morning glory, pad pak boong, grilled shrimp, pa tong go, Chinese dough sticks, pandan custard, mango with sticky rice, butterfly pea flower, mauve, roasted mung bean, miang kham, Chanya, Je Lee Fishball, Yentafo, Thai Pink noodle soup, som tam, Yum Rod Sab, crispy lemongrass chicken, Kalapapruek, Muslim green curry with roti, Panlee Bakery, bread with pandan custard, Prachak Roasted Duck, roast duck with rice, Banthat Thong Road, Victory Monument, boat noodles, Phahon Yothin Soi, Rangnam, Nakhon Chaisi Road, Ratchawat and Siyan Markets, Nan Loeng Market, Banglamphu, Tha Pra Chan, Charoen Krung Road, Silom Soi 20, Petchaburi Soi 5, Sukhumvit Soi 38, Thong Lo, Thonburi, Wang Lang Market, Talat Phlu, Jay Fai , crab omelette, MBK 6th floor Food Centre, Muslim chicken with yellow rice


Further Information

David Thompson Cook Book

I referred to David Thompson’s Thai Food 2002, in my article on Streetfood in Chiang Mai. In this article I refer to David Thompson’s Thai Street Food 2009, 377 pp, another marvellous book. I’ve mentioned two recipes above with page references but the book contains many many more. If you have a desire to cook Thai street food go to David Thompson.

Food Tours

The food tours we took were with A Chef’s Tour in Chinatown and Bangkok Food Tours in Bang Rak and I would recommend both. We also took an excellent Chef’s Tour in Chiang Mai as detailed in my earlier article on Streetfood in Chiang Mai but the Bangkok tour was even better.

Mark Wiens had also designed The Ultimate Bangkok Food Tour, which was a food and history tour that took place over 9 hours. It sounded fabulous. However, whilst writing this article he has taken the site down (perhaps it was too much). However, on his food blog Eating Thai Food he has posted an article and video called The Ultimate One Day Thai Food Tour of Bangkok (Do-It-Yourself Guide), which probably means you should do it yourself. I certainly will next time I am in Bangkok.

I need to state, I am not receiving any benefits whatsoever for recommending any commercial enterprises or products and do not intend to do so. Yet, I also have no problem with others doing so, as long as it is clearly acknowledged.

Denise with Pork Street Snack, Bang Rak

Denise with Pork Street Snack, Bang Rak


Places Visited on the Two Tours

Some of the Places visited on our Chinatown Tour (supplied by A Chef’s Tour)

1 The Chinese Pastry Shop, kanom peh, Map ref:

https://goo.gl/maps/hvvhKPDCrXcCneBF8

2 The pork or chicken satay and suki (Sukiyaki noodles) stalls

https://goo.gl/maps/hAqEjzdGiYLBJcZ38

3 The braised pork leg in five spice was on the same side as 2 closer to 1.

4 Jok One Table, kanom jeeb (Shrimp and pork steamed dumplings)

https://goo.gl/maps/TdzBpthX426S78tA9

5 Jek Pui Curry, gaeng gub khao (green curry with optional cured Chinese sausage)

https://goo.gl/maps/jAKJv2bQYoQom3sw8

6 Deksomboon, soy sauce ice cream

https://goo.gl/maps/E1WGsx9p2unka7di7

7 T&K Seafood: tom yum talay (Spicy sour seafood soup), pad pak boong (Stir fried morning glory), goong phao (Grilled shrimp) https://goo.gl/maps/zbLdhTsNrixuy9K97

8 Pa tong go (Chinese dough sticks with pandan custard)

https://goo.gl/maps/PRoiVwCxpE3VyTvK6

9 Khao ngeaw mamuang (Mango and sticky rice)

https://goo.gl/maps/9n27kzuwm4hJKfis9

2012 Unrenovated MBK 6th Floor Food Court

2012 Unrenovated MBK 6th Floor Food Court

Some of the places visited on our Bang Rak Tour (with help from Bangkok Food Tours)

1 Je Lee Fishball Noodle for Yentafo or Thai Pink noodle soup

https://goo.gl/maps/73eBEsLPB7TMw2kQA

2 Yum Rod Sab across the river for som tam and lemongrass chicken

https://goo.gl/maps/97NF16snaHg5bmsb7

3 Kalapruek, green curry with roti

https://goo.gl/maps/CPFWvSmYVuui5S2W9

4 Panlee Bakery, Thai tea and bread with pandan custard

https://goo.gl/maps/uD5FNg3xnww3kanJ9

5 Prachak Roasted Duck, roasted duck with rice

https://goo.gl/maps/4YDXVrwNawuNKbvNA

2023 MBK 6th Floor Food Court. Curried Noodle Stall

2023 MBK 6th Floor Food Court. Curried Noodle Stall


Key Areas for Street food

Mark Wiens has written a lovely article on 16 street food sanctuaries. A longer list than I have found elsewhere. Many of which are also covered above.

For completeness, Mark Wiens also mentions Bang Khun Non near Baan Silapin and the Taling Chan floating market. He mentions Soi Ari in Phaya Thai, and Ramkamhaeng on the airport link line and this is not a definitive list.

Mark Wiens also has a hot tip regarding street food: Mondays are street cleaning days. Many vendors take the day off, half are shut.

I envy Mark Wiens and other expats who live in Bangkok because of the range of opportunities for excellent street food. As a tourist, you can only ever explore a small number of places and Bangkok I find can be exhausting as a tourist.

Chinatown and its Alternative

Chinatown

Tulay 2009 has an interesting article about the history of Chinatown.

Banthat Thong

Timeout 2020 and the Bangkok Post 2019 have articles about the Banthat Thong area and I quite like the following amateur Youtube video on Banthat Thong (17 min).

 

Insects to Eat

Insects to Eat


Michelin Guide

In 2023 the Michelin Guide recommends 46 food stalls and restaurants in Bangkok. Of these only one is a one-star recommendation and the rest are Bib Gourmands.

The street food places are outlined by the Michelin Guide on three pageson the Internet: Page 1, Page 2, Page 3.

Jay Fai is the only 1-star street food restaurant recommended by Michelin. See below.

I emailed Michelin to ask about their rating system and received the following reply:

Dear Tony,

Thank you for your email. Please see below The MICHELIN Guide Rating System.

STARS

Our famous One m, Two n and Three o Stars identify establishments serving the highest quality cuisine – taking into account the quality of ingredients, the mastery of techniques and flavours, the levels of creativity and, of course, consistency.

o Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey!

n Excellent cuisine, worth a detour!

m High quality cooking, worth a stop!

BIB GOURMAND

Good quality, good value cooking. ‘Bibs’ are awarded for simple yet skilful cooking.

Best regards,

The MICHELIN Guide Thailand

Email:  michelinguide.thailand@michelin.com

Website: http://guide.michelin.com


Other Sources

A Chef’s Tour

A Chef’s Tour article on the 50 best places to go to for street food in Bangkok is very generous as a commercial company dependent on its Bangkok tours to provide such information gratis. The article provides a useful comparison to Michelin’s 46 stalls and restaurants recommended in 2023.

A Chef’s Tour is a UK company, which started food tours in Bangkok. They say:

We started A Chef’s Tour with one simple aim: to create and curate food experiences good enough for chefs.

After travelling the world over, we became bored with the same mediocre food tours. We wanted a tour which helped us truly understand regional food, its history and ingredients. A tour which pushed our limits and didn’t pander to western palates.

Our story started with a single chef in Bangkok who designed a street food tour which has since become the highest rated in the city. Since inception, we’ve expanded to offer unique culinary experiences across Asia and Latin America.

Mark Wiens

Mark Wiens article on 16 Bangkok Food Locations is a terrific guide to find areas for street food.

I mentioned Mark Wiens in my previous article, Street Food Chiang Mai 2023, I said:

Mark Wiens is a full time food vlogger with an endearing and unique style which is very entertaining. His You Tube home site covers the whole gamut of his food vlogging. He is an American but now resident with his wife in Bangkok.

He has 72 videos on food in Bangkok much of it related to street food. Definitely, worth a browse.

Others

Chef Gaggan Anand

Chef Gaggan Anand has an interesting take on some of his favourite places in Bangkok in a Gourmet Traveller article by Jessica Rigg in September 2022. His first two places are best accessed very late at night. Ideal for when a chef knocks off!


Cheap Eats

When I was doing some Internet research for further information on cheap eats and street food, I thought I’d found some expat residents who’d done some discovery over a couple of years. I was either mistaken or I just couldn’t find it again. However, I found a few articles by casual visitors, such as myself, and think that the following are worth reading:

Differentville

Will Fly for Food offer some slightly more expensive places as well as street food.

Travelpediaonline

Wanderlog


Food Stalls and Restaurants

Many of the food stalls and restaurants mentioned above have their own websites or facebook pages. I haven’t included them because there are too many and selecting what to include and what to leave out is impossible. There is enough information here for you to plan and implement a marvellous food adventure to Bangkok.

However, Jay Fai and her tiny restaurant also called Jay Fai as the only 1-star street food venue in Bangkok need showcasing.

Jay Fai Raan

If you want to go to Jai Fai Raan you may have to queue for three hours or more. Alternatively, you can make a reservation but you’ll need to book a month or two ahead. 

A three course meal at Jay Fai costs around $75 US and her signature crab omelette dish $35 US.

Here is one article about her by the famous gourmet magazine Eater:

Bangkok’s Only Michelin-Starred Street Food Vendor Wants to Give Back Star Eater January 2018.

Another good article comes from Michael Sullivan of NPR surprisingly Meet The 74-Year-Old Queen Of Bangkok Street Food Who Netted A Michelin Star, with a three minute radio sound bite as an alternative.

I am a huge fan of the Netflix Documentary Series Chef’s Table (5 seasons 2015 to 2019) by David Gelb and Brian McGinn. Gourmet traveller has a weird ranking of the episodes from 30 to 1, which is worth reading and may encourage you to watch.

David Gelb and Brian McGinn also created the documentary Street Food in 2019. The first series Asia begins with a program on Jay Fai which is worth watching on Netflix.

Mark Wiens has an equally good video on Jay Fai which is also excellent.

 


Afterthought

Edited with the help of chatGPT. You may be able to determine the purple prose left in a couple of sections that were chatGPTs contribution. I have been exploring chatGPT sporadically since December 2022 with mixed feelings. It has proved useful but only a little. I’m not interested in getting chatGPT to do my writing. As far as editing support goes, in this article I found it not worth the effort. However, with much briefer help tightening up really important presentations of 1-2 pages. I have found it enormously helpful. And, in finding certain facts, I have found it useful. As far as generative AI is concerned, it is early days and the hype is overdone. However, in certain areas such as, mundane work and perhaps coding, and images — the future beckons. How quickly this will happen is anyone’s guess. I certainly wouldn’t be putting my hard earned money into any developments at this stage. As far as military applications go, generative AI scares me (think Putin, Trump or Dr Strangelove) and I’ve made my views known on killer robots.

Published in Canberra

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Comments

    1. Author

      Thanks Peggy. I must admit I got hungry writing this one and looking at the videos.

  1. Well that was a marathon, informative review, well done. On my arrival in Bangkok, some 22 years ago for work, I was simply overwhelmed by the variety and amount of food that was available. People who have not experienced Bangkok might be perplexed why so many people eat at what is sometimes known as “street/soi food,” the answer is pretty simple. With a population of 10 m + many lower to medium wage earners live in “condos” which are basically one room with a tiny bathroom but no kitchen.

    This was true of my wife Tip of 19 years who worked as an Accountant for a major car dealership in a 20 storey building Food vendors would gather outside from early morning to late evening, that provided her breakfast and lunch. Her condo was approx 10 m x 7 m but the building, like others, had a strict “no kitchen policy” apart from a rice cooker but again food vendors were outside the building for dinner.

    My location was a large hotel room in Happyland Mansion and I had lunch where I taught English in The Mall Bangkapi Food Court. At night a renowned chef ,with his daughter would erect a marquee outside the hotel and a scattering of plastic chairs and tables. There was never a night where most tables were not occupied. His food was exceptional and so cheap.

    When Covid arrived people selling food were severely hit, almost overnight, but out of the blue food delivery motor bike delivery drivers commenced in huge numbers and that continues today. Companies include Grab, Food Panda, Meals on Wheels, Tuk.

    In our gated village, some 800 homes, approx 25 residents are continuing to provide a variety of meals to village residents which includes free delivery. Massive benefit for those that may not be very mobile or simply want a break from cooking.

    1. Author

      Hi Mike

      A brilliant addition to my article and very informative!

    1. Author

      Many thanks for the comment. It is always pleasant to receive positive feedback. You have a very nice travel site yourselves. Our paths have crossed. We enjoyed Croatia but didn’t get much past Dubrovnik and the islands though we spent 2 weeks there in 2014. Next time we’ll travel more widely. We are also big fans of Krabi Town in Thailand. Altlhough the area has grown the town hasn’t changed much since the 1990s. Last trip we adventured across the river to Ko Klang on our motor bike for birding — hardly visited by tourists.

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