Jan 19 2012
When khlongs were the most reliable transport and boats plied the “Venice of the East”, boat noodles were Thailand’s answer to delivery pizza. Vendors didn’t deliver upon order, but they did ply their way across the city selling noodle soups from wooden sampans calling out for customers as they passed by. Vendors soon developed loyal following, differentiating themselves by type of noodles and spices added to the broth.
As Bangkok modernised, those canals were slowly left behind as conduits for people and goods but the noodle vendors had a client base to satisfy. While some vendors scattered to the winds, others stuck close to their former waters and set up shops along the canals they used to ply. Today there is a fantastic congregation of boat noodle places along the canal just north of Victory Monument in central Bangkok.
Noodles normally come in three varieties: sen lek, sen yai, and baan mee (thin firm rice noodles, wide soft rice noodles, and chewy wheat noodles, respectively). Pork and beef are always represented, usually in the form of muu daeng (roasted red pork) and luk muu (round balls of finely ground pork) as well as tender pieces of stewed beef. Luk plaa (round balls of finely ground fish flesh) are often on the menu as well. Tiny portions are the norm, charged up and down this canal at 11 baht per bowl — most people eat three or four to fill up, which gives a chance to try all the flavours!
To get to boat noodle heaven, exit BTS Victory Monument station to the north (towards the actual monument and the traffic circle). Follow the walkway around the circle and take the stairs that following parallel with Phaholyothin Road (the road that runs north through the traffic circle). Look to your right as you pass over the canal and you’ll see the restaurants along the water. Descend the stairs and back track to the canal — pick a restaurant and dive in!
Boat noodle restaurants
Open daily 11:00-21:00
BTS Victory Monument
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