Sunday, May 13, 2012

Thailand - Food Trip at Khao San (Bangkok)

Unlike Singapore where food hawkers abound in almost every block, in Thailand, you normally see them concentrated mainly at shopping areas such as Pratunam and Chatuchak and other tourist spots such as Floating market and Khao San, to name a few. Temples normally have very minimal food shops or eateries around them.

Though Khao San area is very famous place especially for backpackers, food is generally affordable except beer or alcohol. Having stayed at Khao San area for several times, I was able to try the cheapest way to eat by simply following the locals. By the way, when you say Khao San, it also includes the adjacent Rambuttri and Tani roads.

This is my favorite bar / restaurant along Khao San road. I usually take my dinner at Lucky Beer. Being located at the middle of Khao San road exhibitions are being performed from time to time in front of this bar such as football and dance.

A big bottle of beer will cost you around 100 to 125 Baht depending on the brand. I was surprised to see a half-liter bottle San Mig Light. It was also the same San Mig Light we have in Philippines. I tried also their San Miguel Pale Pilsen. In my opinion, we have better tasting San Miguel beers in Philippines, trust me.

Aside from Pad Thai, I also order from this bar one of my favorite Thai foods, fried rice with chicken. It costs, as I remember, 70 Baht. However, I pay double for the shrimp with steamed rice. I normally pay around 250 Baht for a bare dinner inclusive of big bottle of beer. Quite expensive.

Moreover, at Lucky Beer, I am able to savor the different types of Thai curries. Aside from the normal or yellow curry, they also offer green and red curries as well. Coconut milk is usually added to these curries.

After indulging for several days, I need to control my expenses. It was time to try the famous Pad Thai street vendors. All of them sell Pad Thai at the same price. 25 to 30 Baht for basic Pad Thai and up to 50 Baht  if you add egg and chicken or shrimp; plus 10 Baht for each vegetable spring roll. It was quite fascinating to watch those vendors while they were cooking. I usually select the thin and "canton" style noodles. I was astonished to see that each of them has a different technique in cooking Pad Thai while all of them uses disposable plate and fork/chopstick, thus you can enjoy your Pad Thai while exploring Khao San.



Aside from Pad Thai, I have also learned to love the 60 Baht Chicken Kebab. I think it is a misnomer. It should be called Chicken Shawarma.

Along Rambuttri road, this road is adjacent to Khao San, you will find several bars and restaurants. Actually, if you prefer to dine with live folk, reggae and acoustic singer playing at the background then the bars along Rambuttri road are preferable than the noisy and market-filled Khao San road. I love Green House bar. Their acoustic singer is superb. She is local but she sings like Taylor Swift and pluck her guitar well. For a decent dinner at Green House I normally pay around 230 to 250 Baht. Still expensive.

During lunch, I prefer to eat at different eateries along Rambuttri road such as this:

Inclusive of softdrink, I paid 70 Baht. Nothing fancy about the food. Spicy fish curry and plain noodles with steamed rice. Quite cheap compared with the bar/restaurant and fast food joints.

On my fourth visit to Thailand, few days before I return back to my work, I transferred from Nappark to nearby and cheaper hostel, Bangkok Home Stay, along Tani road also. At the intersection of Tani and Rambuttri roads, there are several food carts with lots of tables and chairs around. I have noticed that many locals dine on this place during lunch and dinner. I have seen some tourists eating here as well. I asked the server how much for a meal and he replied for 1 order of steamed rice and 1 order of main course I would pay 35 Baht. Yes! I hit jackpot. From that time, I was taking my lunch at the said food cart.

Nothing to worry for I have observed that they don't wash the dirty utensils and plates here. They have prepared plenty of clean plates and utensils for the diners and brought the dirty ones for cleaning maybe at home. You won't see them cleaning the utensils and plates in a bucket of oily and soapy water.

35 Baht for chicken in tomato sauce with peanuts plus 1 rice

Later on, when the server has been used in seeing me taking my lunch at their place. He told me that I can pay 25 Baht if the main course will be added directly to the rice. I agreed.

25 Baht for spicy chicken with rice

What is good for these eateries is that they are directly in front of 7 eleven outlet. Hence, before I take my lunch I buy a bottle of water at 7 eleven for 6 Baht. When in Khao San, I buy beer from 7 eleven as well. A 330 ml local beer such as Chang will cost you 29 Baht. 500 ml beer is 40 Baht. I am buying beer in can.

There are also plenty of fresh orange juice vendors. A small bottle will cost you 20 Baht. They squeeze those local and small oranges. Be careful though because some of them were adding water and sugar but it taste very refreshing. Young coconut is available for 25 Baht.

fellow diners at Khao San
I find Thai food almost the same with our own Filipino foods. You can have different kind of noodles; they even have their own "sinigang", the Tom Yam soup. Tom Yam (spicy lemongrass soup) is a bit sweeter and spicier than our own "sinigang". They also use soy and fish sauces. For their vegetable spring rolls, I use my favorite vinegar with chili. Additionally, one of my Thai favorites, the fried rice with chicken, is easily doable in our kitchen.

Though Singapore food hawkers are a more hygienic compared with Thai street food vendors, it is worth mentioning that we can easily distinguish whether the Thai food vendor is selling safe and clean food. Nevertheless, since I started eating from these street food vendors, I haven't encounter any stomach upset but as a precaution before I travel, I normally eat in fast food joint such as burger and chicken to avoid any inconvenience during my travel or flight.

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