By Michael Turtle
One of the highlights of a visit to Bangkok is the colourful and hectic streets, filled with little food stalls. It can also be one of the scariest things if you have never tried it before. These stalls don’t look like the restaurants we’re used to and there’s often a fear that the food will make you sick.
Don’t be afraid, though. These small street stalls have some of the best thai street food you’ll ever eat in Thailand and most of them are perfectly hygienic. After all, if they made people sick, they would go out of business!
We’ve headed to the Thai capital and tracked down an expert to give us all the best tips for newbies. Chawadee Nualkhair runs the food blog Bangkok Glutton and definitely knows her stuff.
One of the reasons local Thais love street food is that it’s cheap and quick. This is a large bowl of noodles in a light broth with the meat minced and garnished with some vegetables and a cracker. It costs 50 baht, which is less than two dollars.
“You can get sick from a food stall, but also from an upscale restaurant,” Chawadee explains. “You have to be on the lookout for places that have high turnover, good quality ingredients that are refrigerated, and something of a name that they want to protect.
And the best tip of all – make sure you try some mango sticky rice somewhere. It is one of the best ways to top off a great street food meal and should cost less than two dollars for a big plate.
If you can’t read the menu and the cooks don’t speak English, Chawadee has some easy advice. “Just copy everyone else. That’s the first and main rule to follow. If there’s something that looks good on someone else’s table, just point to it. That makes it easy on everyone involved!”
Chawadee believes the stall owners don’t mind at all if foreigners want to try their food. “They are pleasantly surprised when foreign tourists like and want to try something that Thais themselves love. I think Thais are just beginning to realize that foreign tourists love Thai street food… something I find incredibly amazing.”
“There seems to be a convergence where street food vendors are getting more ‘restaurant-like’ and work as hard on their dishes as any chef (like Jay Fai, the Western food ‘street stall’ Uncle John,” Chawadee Nualkhair says.
One of the best collections of stalls in Bangkok is at Sukhumvit Soi 38. There’s a huge selection of cuisine on offer and it’s hard to know exactly where to start. Luckily here, because the vendors know tourists like to pop in, they have some menus printed in English.