Category: Thai (Chinese) – Street Food
Yaowarat Road in Bangkok, Thailand, is practically synonymous with “Chinatown”. At night, the streets are flooded with taxis ferrying tourists who flock there for dinner, supper, or to soak in the hustling atmosphere side-by-side with the locals. Vendors park their carts in front of the shops and begin business, practically forming a street-side barricade that effectively encroaches into the road, with more than 10 stalls every 20m or so.
Sam Pheng Lane ซอยสำเพ็ง, Bangkok, Thailand
The taxis inch along bumper-to-bumper. Bright lights, lots of signs. Noise. Vehicles all lined along the curb. People weaving randomly through the traffic, queuing, eating – here, there, everywhere. You’ve reached Yaowarat, alright.
Food here is inexpensive – as it should be, given that almost all the time your food will be prepared out of small push-carts, shelter-like things or even a wok precariously balanced on top of a gas cylinder, and you’ll be sitting on a stool that’s been planted on the road. Half the time you’ll be thinking and raving about how inexpensive the dish you were just served is, and the other half you’ll spend wondering if you’re going to get a stomach ache afterwards. Nonetheless, Yaowarat seemed, on the whole, to be noticeably cleaner than some other food streets in Bangkok.
To go: When looking for food in Bangkok at night
With probably over a thousand stalls operating along the streets at night, there is an abundance of food, although it once again (as with many other places in Bangkok) becomes very challenging to differentiate the talented hawkers. It is lively, chaotic – typical Bangkok style. It’s probably a good one-stop-shop at night, with the other food street option being Sukhumvit Soi 38.
This review contains a few sub-reviews on different stalls which we patronised.
A MORE DETAILED RECOUNT
The cab hadn’t moved in 4 minutes. I’d pre-loaded my GPS with the wifi at the hotel (as we’d all learnt to do when travelling on exchange with no data plan), and I could see that the start of my planned food trail was barely 25m away. We thanked him, paid the fare, alighted and had to scoot out of the way of a hasty tuk-tuk, before blending into the constant stream of people going up and down the street.
Nai Mong Hoy Tod (นายหมงหอยทอด) was our first stop. Acclaimed for their oyster omelettes (or “Orh luak” as they’re known in Singapore), it is a small shophouse just of Charoen Krung Road, 25m down Phlap Phla Chai Street, on your right. Rather than bother with the complex street names, you can search for the shop’s name on google maps and you’ll find that it’s so well-known that it’s already marked out with a star.
This was delish – topped with a generous serving of plump good-sized oysters, it was such great value at around $4. I can’t think of a better value oyster omelette anywhere else. Orh Luak tends to come with starch mixed in, which tends to be clumpy if not done correctly, but this one was excellent – the starch was tasty (it was actually, for the first time ever, tasty!). Well incorporated into the omelette, it provided a smooth springy texture which interlaced with the crisp of the omelette. Unlike when poorly fried to a dry crisp, the egg flavour was still apparent in the fluffy omelette and oysters were fresh. We ordered a plate of clams cooked in a spicy sauce from the shophouse to its right as well, and that was also great value and very tasty – so you could consider doing that if you’re paying Nai Mong a visit.
Seafood was up next, and for that, we headed back out to the main street. There are two very popular seafood stalls at the intersection of Yaowarat Road and Thanon Phadung Dao Street. The queue was so long at T&K Seafood restaurant that we settled, without much hesitation, at my originally-planned stop of Lek & Rut Seafood (featured picture) which was right opposite to that. Contrary to what some reviews say, the staff were not friendly – they were impatient when taking orders and would just holler an unhelpful response whilst looking everywhere else when customers tried to get clarification on the dishes. Their menu was a plastic folder of white A4 paper printed with pictures and some words, sometimes indistinct. I noticed the only exception to this was a caucasian family with two kids, who the waitress immediately offered Strawberry Collon snacks to and spent time recommending dishes as well as joking with the kids, and a group of young and boisterous caucasian men whom she (surprise surprise) greeted with a broad smile and open arms.
The seafood was inexpensive, surely, and of a decent value, but be prepared for a massive squeeze and terrible service. I particularly liked the prawns cooked in a chilli egg sauce, which I happily licked up with my spoon.
After walking along the street, I spotted a street-side stall operated by two teenage girls who looked like students helping to run a family business on the weekend. They were both dressed in tshirts and shorts, hair neatly tied up in ponytails, cheerfully chatting with each other and meticulously arranging the boxes of Mango Sticky Rice. The cart was neat and clean – boxes of sticky rice stacked on one side and boxes of sliced mangos stacked on the other, with a woven rattan tray of the mango fruit to the right.
I am a huge fan of mango sticky rice and theirs looked good so we got a box to try for 120THB (~$5), and sat at the blue tables just behind the stall. The rice was delicious – just the right amount of stickiness and chewiness, and drizzling the coconut milk over top was divine; a thick creamy coating of just the right sweetness. The uncooked grains sprinkled over the top weren’t as good though, and were not crispy but instead a little tough to bite through, but nonetheless could be ignored. With a generous serving of sweet mango at its side, we later concluded on hindsight after trying the same dish at several other places that this was one of the best mango sticky rice we had in Bangkok.