We suggest skipping the hotel breakfasts and heading straight to the many food shops operating out of heritage houses in Ban Singha. Here we started with a simple but tasty 40-baht plate of krapao muu sap (pork stir-fried with holy basil, chillies and garlic) at an open-fronted shop called Kwanjai #. A lady sets up a cart next door to whip up 30-baht portions of som tam puu pla raa, the green papaya salad with fermented fish sauce and mud crab that’s ubiquitous throughout Isaan. It joined Kwanjai’s own mild soup, which is served complimentary with all of their dishes, to make for a simple but well-rounded meal.
Just up the street from Kwanjai is Muai Kuay Chab #, a Vietnamese shop dishing out cheap bowls of kuay chab yuan, a mild soup of fresh rice noodles, peppered sausage and fresh greens. They also serve naem kluk, a salad combining sour fermented sausage with chillies, onion and celery leaves. Also in this vicinity you’ll find Yai Som #, another open-fronted shop where the chefs have been sizzling up pad Thai, pad see ew and spring rolls in streetside woks for more than five decades. None of these places have English menus but they only serve a few dishes, all of which are pictured out front at Muai and Yai Som.
Also in Ban Singha, Louder Cafe’s # comfortable and modern dining area saved us from a scorching hot day. While it’s worth a stop for the fresh coffee, WiFi and air-con, the menu holds its own with dishes like oxtail soup and laab puu naa, a variation on Isaan’s minced meat and herb salad made with the salty meat of freshwater crab caught locally. Served with mustard leaves, raw Asian eggplant and roasted chillies, it was delicious. Those who aren’t so adventurous will also find steak and milder Thai dishes at Louder.
While Yasothon doesn’t have much nightlife, a hole-in-the wall spot called Baan Bar # looked like a good place to knock back a few beers and practice your Thai or the Isaan dialect with locals—look for it marked by Chang and Singha beer signs across the lane from Louder Cafe. You’ll also find a couple of larger spots serving beer, whiskey and Thai-style drinking food to patios alongside Wareeratchadet Road, just south of the Green Park Grand Hotel.
Wareeratchadet also hosts Yasothon’s small night market #, where a few dozen stalls dish out typical street eats like gai tort (fried chicken) and khao man gai (chicken rice) along with Isaan specialties such as yum khai mod daeng (spicy red ant egg salad) and gaeng om (a soup-like “curry” with pumpkin among other veggies and spices). There’s plenty of breathing room and several carts set up some tables for eating on site.
Baan Bar Opposite (north of) Louder Cafe.; Mo–Su evenings.
Kwanjai Srisunthon Rd (look for mult-coloured umbrellas just west of Wat Singhta); Breakfast and lunch.
Louder Cafe Corner of Utthai Rammarit Rd (one block east of Wat Maha That); T: (045) 975 164; Mo–Su: 10:00–21:00.
Muai Kuay Chab Witthaya Thamrong Rd (look for sign with picture of kuay chab yuan in front of an old house, just north of Srisunthon Rd); Breakfast and lunch.
Night market Wareerachadet Rd (just north of Chaeng Sanit Rd); Mo–Su: 17:00–21:00.
Yai Som Uthai Rammarit Rd (just south of Louder Cafe); T: (094) 983 8176; Mo–Su: 10:00–15:00.
David Luekens first came to Thailand in 2005 when Thai friends from his former home of Burlington, Vermont led him on a life-changing trip. Based in Thailand since 2011, he spends much of his time eating in Bangkok street markets and island hopping the Andaman Sea.