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Eat Like A Local: Inside Bangkok’s Street Food Circuit

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Travelling to Bangkok? Do not miss out on these authentic Thai street side delicacies

The streets of Bangkok have several stories to their credit. But the most fascinating of the bunch are the ones that revolve around food. The land of smiles is a food lover’s paradise and Bangkok is where all gastronomical dreams come true. Boasting of a vibrant street food culture, the city has a one-of-a-kind charm and for the adventurous soul, the buck stops here. With pushcarts, street stalls and old restaurants offering unique recipes at dirt cheap prices, the bylanes here are home to some exotic flavours. The main ingredients found in Thai cuisine include chilli peppers, fish sauce, lime leaves and shrimp paste. From soups to salads to sticky rice, the street food joints in Bangkok draw fans from around the world. Well, we have celebrated chef Anthony Bourdain to thank for this. Having introduced the world to the Thai street food scene in an episode of No Reservations, the bustling alleys of the city bring together the best of the Thai kitchen secrets.

Here are some culinary gems to look out for during your next visit to Bangkok:

Read | An All New Thailand

Som Tam (Spicy Raw Papaya Salad)

Salads have earned quite a reputation over the years. Not the most appetising of the lot, it’s more often than not considered to be the go-to meal of health freaks. Well, those who’ve had Thai salads would beg to differ. Far from the greeny leafy conventional salads, the Thai som tam or the raw papaya salad is fiery, tangy and mind you it’s not for those with a delicate tummy. Prepared using traditional mortar and pestle, shredded raw papaya is mixed with shrimp paste, green beans, peanuts and tomatoes. The signature dish can be customised as per your spice tolerance. Foreigners who do not share the Thai love for chillies can request the amount of ‘phrik med’ (chilli pieces) to be mellowed down

Khao Phat (Fried Rice)

Eaten all over the globe, fried rice is the ultimate comfort food. But the distinctive taste of the Thai version is what makes it perhaps one of the most popular street food dishes to come out of Thailand. A must for first time travellers, khao phat is available at streed-side carts and high end bistros alike. A more popular variation of the dish is Khao phat khaprow, which loosely translates to fried rice with basil leaves. Using the stir-fry cooking technique, fragrant jasmine rice is tossed with chilli and basil which lends it the spicy and unique flavour. Often served with an egg on top, the dish can be made meat heavy by adding shrimp, chicken and pork as per preference.

Moo Ping (Pork Skewers)

Meat lovers are in for a treat with this one. Found in every nook and corner of Bangkok, this satay-style Thai skewers are a crowd favourite. Complemented with sticky rice and tamarind dip, the succulent pork slices are marinated in a mixture of cilantro, garlic, pepper, oyster sauce, fish sauce, soy sauce and sugar. Mounted onto skewers, the fatty pork is then grilled over charcoal. Street vendors often brush a layer of coconut milk over the skewers which gives it a ting of sweetness that turns to caramel over the heat. Well, a drool-worthy experience is guaranteed with this flavourful snack.

Pad Thai (Stir-Fried Noodles)

We don’t have to introduce you to pad-thai. Thai cuisine for most people begins and ends at Pad Thai.Well, there’s a reason why it’s Thailand’s favourite. Sweet, spicy and crunchy. What’s not to like? A mixture of rice noodles, egg, tofu,shrimp, tamarind and vegetables and garnished with crushed peanuts, this dish is an explosion of different flavours all at once. While there is enough scope to add your own variation to the noodles, the secret to an exceptional pad thai lies in the technique. This authentic street food is a made to order delicacy. From chopping to cooking everything is customised as per your liking. While the American version of it has gained popularity over the years, there is still a long way to go. As a matter of fact, we’d say it’s impossible to beat the real deal.

Tom Yum Goong (Spicy Thai Soup)

Thai food has become synonymous with Tom Yum. And we’re sure you’ve tried this dish nearly everywhere but nothing comes close to the authentic Thai-style broth. Extremely popular among tourists and locals alike, its unique flavour and aroma makes it simply irresistible. With fragrant herbs & spices and ingredients like lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime leaves, the creamy tom yum goong should not be missed. Shrimp is usually added to this concoction, but this Thai-style soup can also be made using other meat alternatives like pork and chicken, which is referred to as Tom Yum Kai, while the prawn variant is known as Tom Yum Kung.

Pro Tip – Rana Jay Fai, the only Thai street food eatery to be awarded a Michelin Star is where one can savour the best Tom Yum Goong ever.

Kway Teow Reua (Boat Noodles)

Ever heard of boat noodles? Well, the story behind the unique name is quite simple though. Originally sold at river canals on a floating boat, kway teow reua was typically served in small bowls mainly to ensure that the soup and noodles didn’t spill over when the boat moved. But over the years, this practice eventually became the norm. The easiest place to find these noodles is Victory Monument. Flocked by locals and tourists, Victory Monument has a variety of Thai Boat Noodle restaurants. Topped with different types of gravies, kway teow reua is available in three variants – chicken, pork and beef and can be had with peanut sauce or dark sauce and even dry.

Khao Niew Ma Muang (Thai Sticky Rice With Mango)

Mango sticky rice is a delight for those with a sweet tooth. Sticky rice is a common ingredient in almost all Thai desserts. Be it as an evening snack or as a post-dinner ritual, you can never go wrong with this sweet treat. Often served with small chunks of durian (provided that it’s the durian season), sticky rice is mixed with either coconut cream or milk and sugar. Topped with slices of fresh mango, the tropical rice pudding is hard to miss. This Thai dessert is available at roadside pushcarts and gourmet restaurants alike. Made using the freshest ingredients and yet extremely affordable, mango sticky rice is the go-to dessert for many locals.

Itim Kati (Thai Coconut Ice Cream)

What better way to beat the heat than ice cream. And if it’s Thai coconut ice cream, then sure   Bangkok summers seems a lot more bearable. Unarguably, all thai desserts have their own loyal fan base. While some hail mango sticky rice as the undisputed winner, others seem to have a soft corner for sweet Thai crepes. Well, Thailand definitely has mastered the art of crafting innovative dessert recipes. And one such sweet indulgence is the Thai coconut ice cream. Prepared using rich coconut cream, the smooth base coupled with tiny bits of coconut gives it the perfect texture. Served in a scraped out coconut, you can be as adventurous with the toppings. From corn kernels to peanuts, jelly beans and even red bean, you’ll be spoilt for choice. We don’t know about you, but a quick ice cream break is sure on our Bangkok itinerary!

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