May 27 2013

Eating in Bangkok’s Chinatown

Published by at 1:05 am under Food


Bangkok is deservedly famous for its food, but I’ve got a particularly soft spot for the Chinatown district, where the main road Yaowarat is a veritable food extravaganza that just goes off… every night. So I set up a date with a Thai former colleague Kip (who lives to eat) and we took a quick street food blast down Yaowarat on Sunday night.

Get out of the cab and start munching.

Get out of the cab and start munching.

The first thing you’ll most likely come across are street merchants roasting chesnuts. The black beads the chestnuts are roasting in is a special sand that is used to make sure the chesnuts cook evenly and right through. A small bag should set you back 15-20 baht — don’t eat too many as they will kill your appetite.

Just in case the night isn't already warm enough.

Just in case the night isn’t already warm enough.

The food scene really gets going at Soi Texas (though we prefer to call it “Soi Seafood”), where two seafood joints, Rut & Lek (red shirts) and T&K (green shirts), battle it out for seafood supremacy. I’m personally a big fan of the black pepper crab at T&K’s, but Kip waved both off and we pulled up stools at Heng’s, the next place down Soi Texas after R&L’s. Here we disposed of a plate of grilled king prawns, squid in curry and a steamed lonely crab. I maintain T&K’s crab is better, but the prawns in particular were delicious.

Prawn taster.

Prawn taster.

We spent about half the meal catching up and the other half talking about what we were going to eat next. Rice or noodles? Soup or fried? Two more meals or one? We settled on walking up to the other end of Yaowarat for a noodle dish, but in Yaowarat the distractions come easy.

Squid throw down (just pretend you can't see the fly).

Squid throw downs (just pretend you can’t see the fly).

Like this tray of barbequed squid beckoning.

Stirring up a pad thai storm.

Stirring up a pad thai storm.

Or perhaps a quick plate of pad thai?

Pomegranate quencher.

Pomegranate quencher.

Or a pomegranate quencher?

Pepper and offal to clear the sinuses.

Pepper and offal to clear the sinuses.

In the end, the noodle place we decided on was closed (being Sunday night and all) but there was no shortage of second options along Yaowarat. We headed to what Kip reckons is the best kuay jab stall in the area. Kuay jab is a noodle soup with wide curled noodles and all sorts of bits of a pig you probably don’t eat all that much — think stomach lining, lung, heart, liver and a couple of crispy pork chunks. But the real treat is the rich peppery broth it comes in. It sneaks up on you but will clear your sinuses (and those of anyone within 100 metres of the stall). Some of the offal is an acquired taste, but the broth itself is undoubtedly superb. You’ll find our one at Yaowarat Soi 11 (Soi Issaranuparb) and expect to wait to be seated — this is a very popular stall.

Gingko on ice to cool off the pepper.

Gingko on ice to cool off the pepper.

The pepper sneaks up on you so we moved on to cool our heels at a gingko nut joint back along main Yaowarat Road. Kip went with them iced in milk, while I went with the longan syrup. Both were delicious, refreshing and took the edge of the pepper.

Grab a cab and sleep it off.

Grab a cab and sleep it off.

What’s next? Crawl into a cab and head back to sleep it off — or go get a foot massage, then do it all again.

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