In CNN Facebook poll, Thailand ranked as the 4th world destination with the best food. Like Filipino cuisine, Thai food is also a hodgepodge of culinary cultures, and one dish is often a perfect marriage of the different tastes – sweet, salty, sour, and spicy.
Although Thai food has become more popular worldwide, my first authentic Thai food experience was rather an unconventional one. Here are the dishes I’ve sampled during my first two days in Bangkok:
Thai Food: Fish Ball Noodle Soup
Our first foray into authentic Thai food wasn’t something out of a fine dining gourmet restaurant. Rather it was at a nondescript hole-in-the-wall noodle place near Central Pier where our taxi driver left us. Due to a bit of a language barrier, he dropped us at the intersection when we were saying we wanted him to drop us off at the Central Pier station.
We were starving and decided to try our luck at this local noodle place where the picture menu showed variations of fish ball noodle soup. After a few minutes of waiting, our steaming bowls arrived. The dish was simple enough, with egg noodles, fish balls, kikiam, fried dumpling, bean sprouts, scallions, cilantro and, of course, that flavorful broth. A light meal even by Asian standards but still gave us the energy for a full afternoon of frolicking in Bangkok’s tourist spots.
Thai food: Pad Thai
Of course, the world famous Pad Thai is on the list. We just didn’t expect that we’ll be eating it at the infamous Khao San Road instead of the recommended one at Pad Thai Thip Samai. Hungry from temple hopping and a lot of walking, we decided to end the night by passing through the just as famous backpacker street. Taking in the sights and smell of the very lively street, this Pad Thai and barbecue vendor caught our fancy because of the people queueing up so we decided to give their dishes a try.
The food is cooked upon ordering and you can choose which of the ingredients will be included in your Pad Thai. They also offer grilled beef, pork, chicken, hot dogs, mushrooms, and corn in skewers. Sadly, all of our batteries were emptied out even before our Pad Thai got cooked. But it sure filled our tummy and left us clamoring for more even if we just ate it standing on the sidewalk. Haha!
See also: Thailand’s legendary Pad Thai
Thai Food: Silom Soi 20 Food Market
Bangkok is street food heaven and Silom Soi 20 is definitely not one you should miss especially if you’re staying in the Silom Area. This did not come up in my research and only stumbled to it by accident when we were looking for a local place to eat early breakfast on our second day in Bangkok. We were staying across the street, in Mile Map Hostel which is just behind the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple. Silom Soi 20 would be at your right side if you cross the street from the temple.
The street is surely a foodie heaven, enticing you with the different sights and smells, and offering almost everything from Thai curries, Moo Ping (grilled pork skewers), fresh fruits and vegetables, freshly pressed juices, assortment of breakfast fare, snacks, and sweets, and everything in between. My friend even got to buy a vacuum-packed Thai black and brown rice. Best to come here from 6 am to 9 am.
Undeterred by the signages in Thai and vendors with limited English, we ate to our tummy and heart’s content along the street. We sampled Thai donuts also called Patongo, which are small blobs of light and fluffy dough deep fried in oil and turned with long chopsticks. They are best eaten with a hot cup of coffee.
We also bought a fresh salad for takeaway which had boiled an egg, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, red cabbage, lettuce, corn, beans, carrots, squash and a creamy dressing.
Also decided to try a savory Khanom Bueang, Thai’s version of a taco. The crispy crepe or shell is made rice flour batter cooked in a hot plate and then filled with different toppings such as shredded coconut, egg threads boiled in sugar syrup, raisins, apricots, and candied fruits. It left me with this aftertaste that I didn’t much like so I guess I’ll have to try the sweeter version next time with coconut cream.
What I also love about Bangkok is the fact that you can buy freshly squeezed juice in almost every corner. Vendors have an assortment of fruits and vegetables you can choose from and then squeezes them all on a manual presser and a very handy plastic bottle. The only ingredient I can remember in our juice was the small bitter gourd. Haha!
Thai Food: Grilled bananas (Kluay Tap)
Found on the streets of Bangkok going to Platinum Mall from Ratchathewi, this ubiquitous snack is served optionally with a sweet syrup. The bite size bananas are grilled on a stick and then lightly smashing it down to make it flat. The roasting process leaves the fruit with a crunchy exterior. Best eaten fresh off the grill.
Thai Food: Platinum Mall Food Centre
Located in the 6th level of one of Thailand’s shopping haven, Platinum’s food court offers an array of Thai dishes and international cuisine to choose from. But unlike other food courts or restaurants, you can’t pay via cash for your orders. Well, not technically as you have to purchase a prepaid card first at the entrance of the food court. Any remaining balance though can be refunded. Another impressive thing about this area is how organized and clean the whole place is.
Fresh spring rolls and Mango sticky rice
Sharing the limelight with Pad Thai, are Fresh Spring Rolls and Mango Sticky Rice. We sampled the ones at the center island and ate them at the colorful tables. You can order the spring rolls in assorted fillings: chicken, tuna, vegetable, and pork if you can’t decide on one. The Mango Sticky Rice comes with multi-colored sticky rice and puffed rice on the side. Mango wasn’t as sweet as Philippine mangoes, but it definitely complemented well with the sweetened coconut cream.
We can’t get enough of noodles. Just kidding! Checked out this noodle place inside Platinum Mall because we were looking for a light snack. We chose Hot and Sour Soup and Thicken Noodles with Beef, both for 18 baht each. Not bad, but there’s probably way better out there. Servings are on the small side and there’s just something lacking in the broth to make me go back again.
Thai Food: MBK’s The Fifth Food Avenue
MBK Center, another of Bangkok shopping destination has two food courts. Food Avenue at the Fifth Level has an extensive selection of international cuisine for everyone, including Japanese, Vietnamese, Italian, Chinese, Indian, Arabic, Greek and many others. The food here are said to be more expensive than the ones on the 6th floor but have a higher quality. Upon entering this closed food court, you will be given a ‘credit card’ where all your purchases will be charged. This card will be presented upon payment at the checkout counter.
After a few rounds of going around the stalls, I finally settled on Sauteed Chicken with Cashew Nuts and Jasmine Rice at Chaba. The serving was big enough for two people and it was quite tasty so at least I got my money’s worth. The next time I’m in Bangkok, I would like to try the 6th floor though.
Two days is definitely not enough to sample even half of what Thai food has to offer. So on my next visit, I’ll make it a point to eat more new dishes and work on my chili tolerance. 😀
Care to share your first Thai food experience? Would love to hear about it!
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