Sep 20 2011
In a city known for its night time indulgences, great late night street eats are a must. There are always a few noodle soup carts, grillers of pork sate, or the flames of a fried noodle wok clustered around popular clubs and bars — but it’s more hangover cure/dancing fuel than culinary delight. But what if your long Bangkok evening of debauchery revolved around food? You need a whole district devoted to food. You need Yaowarat.
Lots of great night-time eating can be found in Bangkok, but generally most carts are stacking the chairs and wiping down the tables by about 11 or so, with a few brave late nighters open until 12:30 or 1am. Not so in Chinatown, transected by Yaowarat Road. Chinatown isn’t just Chinese food. Chinatown has a long history of being the mixing pot for Thailand’s most recent big immigrant group: the southern Chinese. This immigrant group brought with them woks, new seasonings, and cooking techniques like stir-frying. Combined with Thai produce, fish sauce, fermented fish pastes, and sour tamarind, a new category of food exploded, including the ubiquitous pad thai and other rice noodle dishes.
Eating on Yaowarat should be started with some of the best pad kii mao in Thailand (noodles fried “drunk-style” — not with booze, but with plenty of chilli and garlic to satisfy the drinking public), served forth on blisteringly hot cast iron plates that keep the luscious wide rice noodles hot and perfectly toasted on one side. It’s spicy — if you’d like to wash it down with a soft drink they have you covered, and you are welcome to bring your own bottles of beer from the 7-eleven around the corner.
Once settled with some fried noodles, it’s time for another classic Yaowarat dish: khao muu daeng (red pork rice). Khao muu is pork shoulder or shank that’s been simmered with anise, cinnamon, aromatics and palm sugar until the meat is fork tender. It’ll be served up on white rice, with delicate slices of braised fat and pickled mustard greens. Don’t skip the fat; it’s the best part.
Now on to seafood! R+L Seafood has tables that stretch up and down the left side of Phadung Dao Road. Be sure to get the grilled prawns, which come charred from the charcoal. Everything they have is delicious, so continue eating until you pass out (or win, depending on your situation).
Most street stalls on Yaowarat don’t start serving until at least dusk (around 18:30), so pretend you’re Spanish: go late and eat slow. Stalls don’t close up shop until around 3:00.
Pad kii mao: Krua Pornlamai (stand name), Plang Naam Road, left side as you walk down this small street, about 35 metres from Yaowarat Rd. Open 18:00-03:00. Plates around 50 baht.
Khao muu daeng: There are several great vendors on the street. Look for a shank of burnished mahogony-coloured pork sitting next to a bubbling cauldron of broth. Try the stand directly across the street from the entrance to Plang Naam Rd. Open 11:00-03:00. Plates 30-45 baht.
Seafood: R+L Seafood, Phadung Dao Road, left side (wait staff wear red shirts). Open 18:00-03:00. Grilled prawns from 150 baht.
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