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Wet markets in Bangkok are easy to come across — gigantic Khlong Toei simmers in the south, Phran Nok lingers to the west and Bang Kapi bubbles in the east — but only the orderly Or Tor Kor up north can rightfully claim the title of "Bangkok's gourmet market".
Or Tor Kor (actually pronounced Aw Taw Kaw, every syllable rhyming with ‘raw’) is organised by a farmers’ marketing association and the selection of vendors and good management of both the physical space and operating conditions has created a unique space in Bangkok. It’s every bit a fresh food market, with butchering, scaling, pruning and coring taking place right out in the open air, produce stacked in pyramids, but the building is clean and well lit. From its inception it’s been a more upscale market than others in Bangkok, famous for the size and quality of the fruit sold there at prices to match.
It is more expensive than Khlong Toei, but the variety and quality of produce, fish and meats is amazing. The market isn’t just raw food, however. It’s also an excellent place to try Thai sweets, like khanom krok, which are little coconut milk puddings cooked in a hot griddle cup, leaving the outside crispy and caramelised and the interior smooth and satisfying, or khao taen which look like puffed rice cakes found in the health food aisle in Western grocery stores, but are drizzled with palm sugar caramel and eaten as a sweet treat here.
Near the back of the market is a food court with too few tables to handle the lunch time crowd, but even if there’s no seats, grab a handful of grilled meat on sticks and munch your way around looking for your second course. The kway tieow ped is highly recommended — fat slick rice noodles are served drenched in a duck broth soup, thickened slightly with blood (sounds gross, but it isn’t… just trust us on this one) and topped with roasted slices of duck breast and braised chunks of leg meat. Slow-roasted massaman from one of the curry and rice stalls is also an excellent way to go. For dessert, coconut sweets abound — try the stand located in the centre of the market (called Khanom Thai Khao Pee Nong, but the sign is only in Thai — look for stacks of tasty looking sweets) where iterations of every possible combination of coconut and palm sugar stand ready for the tasting.
How to get there
MRT: Kampheng Phet Station, take the exit marked "Marketing Association of Farmers" which will put you directly in front of the market. Or Tor Kor is across the street (and about a five-minute walk) from Chatuchak weekend market.
By Brock Kuhlman
Last updated on 10th June, 2014.