Bangkok Street Food: If You Aren’t Eating It, You Aren’t Here
Don’t Just Look At It!
To simply walk by and ignore the street food in Bangkok on the way to a restaurant would be to cheat yourself of some of the most authentic and satisfying dishes the City of Angels has to offer. The food is made daily with fresh ingredients, right before your eyes, typically over a charcoal grill or deep frying pan.
How many people would just walk by a big pot of pig snout? I’ll tell you right now, if you could smell what I smelled as I did, you would find that your body spontaneously enters a state of involuntary movement. I found that mine stuttered to a stop, turned to observe the bowl, and then found a chair to sit in–all before I realized what I was doing.
And how satisfying that decision was! Thailand does pork right. Typically it’s cut up and then served with rice and cucumbers paired with a small bowl of pork soup broth. Oh that’s too much pork you say? No, no it is not. Its earthy and herb infused aroma satisfied my sense of smell as much as it did my taste buds. I went back many times.
How Much Does Street Food Cost?
You can get a stick of chicken for 10-20 THB ($0.40 – $0.80 CAD), pork for 10 THB ($0.40 CAD), Fish for 30 THB ($1.20 CAD), vegetables for 15 THB ($0.60 CAD). When you’re not having delicious pork snout, you can get some chicken, pork, vegetables, rice and a coconut shake for under 125-150 THB ($5-$6 CAD). That’s a great dinner in my books.
Strips of the chicken breast tear off effortlessly as each bite explodes in your mouth with flavour. The pork pleases you with its savoury palette, fire grilled to moist and juicy perfection. The fish–my biggest surprise of this experience–an ever so slightly crispy skin married to its herb and spiced flesh. The meat was flakey and left the bone with ease making it simple to eat it in bites, or strip off pieces with your fingers–and lick them clean after! I must have sat by this specific street vendor for about 45 minutes while I tried everything he offered.
Even chicken hearts on a stick held their own with a slightly tough but buttery palette.
You can’t get any fresher than this. Just pick the squid or prawn that you want and off they go with it. I haven’t even mentioned the Pad Thai. I feel that that’s the ‘go-to’ and ‘safe’ option, but you should definitely still get it! It’s the best in Bangkok for me, much better than in Chiang Mai.
Something you’ll find almost all over Thailand is fish that has been simply dry rubbed with salt. It is then slow roasted on a spit over hot coals. A little too salty for my liking but it just looks so good every time I walk by it.
Hot Soup In A Hot Place
It always puzzles me how people can have hot soup, outside, in sweltering temperatures. “We fight heat with heat” one local told me. It seems to be a resounding state of mind with Southeast Asia as I hear that phrase every now and then. Well, as they say, “When in Rome…”.
If you haven’t ever had Tom Yum soup (or Tom Yam, depending on which menu you’re reading), I’ll break it down for you: It’s a spicy and sour soup with tamarind, kaffir lime leaves, galangal (a type of ginger) and lemongrass at its base. There’s a clear broth type and a milky type. At first it may taste overpowering as many other potent ingredients battle each other to reach your tastebuds, but I’ve found that after modifying the recipe a bit, I’ve come to really enjoy it.
The Locals Are The Unspoken Treasure Of This Experience
It’s imperative to realize how hard the locals work to provide for and make all of this possible every day. Labouring underneath the sun on the searing pavement over a charcoal grill isn’t an easy job. I was in Bangkok during the winter season, and it was constantly over 30 degrees celsius. In the summer it goes up to 40+. The issue however is that it doesn’t really cool down; it is hot all the time. Even at night it only lowers to about 20+ degrees. Witnessing the same people come out every evening of every day, with their kind smiles and diligent work ethic truly gave me a new found appreciation and respect for them. It also made the food that much more enjoyable to eat.