Bangkok is a city that loves to eat, and Yaowarat, the local name for Bangkok's Chinatown, is one of the epicenters of delicious food.
Thailand has a long history with China, and it is estimated that as much as 40% of Thais are at least partly Chinese. While there are many Chinese throughout every part of the city of Bangkok, Yaowarat is the old concentrated section where many of the original Chinese immigrants lived and setup their businesses. Gold stores, textile dealers, and a wealth of restaurants and street food stalls are what Yaowarat is most famous for.
So if Bangkok is on your bucket list of places to travel, here are a slew of dishes you have to add to your “must-try” list to truly experience this little slice of Thailand…
The morning and daytime are when you'll find Yaowarat's markets in bustling. The main Yaowarat road is always packed with traffic, people scurrying from place to place, and Vespa motorbike delivery men rushing loads from business to business. Cut into a narrow lane and you'll uncover a world of markets where everything from food supplies and tea to trinkets and clothes are being sold.
1. The Soups
During the morning and midday in Yaowarat is when you'll find plenty of soup noodle stalls and Chinese herbal beverage vendors. Tucked within the choked lanes of Yaowarat, you'll get a whiff of noodles being blanched; the aroma of the broth will lure you in for meal. Grab a stool and sit down at one of the metal folding tables. Kuay jab, a Thai Chinese noodle soup that includes wide rice noodle rolls in a porky broth, is one of the most popular lunchtime dishes. A piping hot bowl of kuay jab is complemented by a scoop of chili vinegar and a few sprinkles of chili flakes. The sour spicy porky soup makes a wonderful lunch, and as you enjoy the intense flavors, sweat will drip down your brow.
2. The Fruits
Continuing through the midday lanes of Yaowarat, there are infinite vendors offering snacks of all kinds and refreshing beverages. In-season fruits like green mangoes, rose apples, or pineapple, are popularly sold pre-cut in bags to eat on the go. Freshly squeezed, and icy cold, mandarin and pomegranate juice are also tempting refreshments on a hot day in Yaowarat.
3. The Meats & Fish
While there's plenty of food in Yaowarat during daytime, nighttime is when the food scene in Yaowarat really comes alive. As soon as the sun goes down, street food stalls slowly emerge along the main Yaowarat road. Tables and chairs line the sidewalks and some stalls even block off part of the street to make room for more hungry customers.
There are many high-class Chinese restaurants serving prized dishes like roast duck, suckling pig, and all things from the sea, as well as a few streetside seafood restaurants where you'll find roasted prawns, crab curry (boo pad pongari), and steamed cockles. Still other smaller street food stalls in Yaowarat specialize in just a few dishes such as pad see ew, fried wide rice noodles, and sen yai radna, wide rice noodles in a pork and kale gravy.
4. The Desserts
When your tummy is stuffed, there's always a little more room for dessert. Nam kang sai, or sweet mixed toppings with crushed ice, is a cool treat. A choice of sweet beans, jackfruit, or candied taro topped with a cup of crushed ice and doused in coconut milk makes nam kang sai sweet and fruity. Another favorite dessert is bua loy nam king, or sweet ginger water with black sesame filled dumplings. This hot soup is sweet and spicy and soothes your throat going down.
No matter what time of day or night you choose to visit Yaowarat, there's always plenty of action, and you're sure to discover something tasty to eat. There's so much food to choose from that the only hindrance is the capacity of your stomach.
Whatever you choose to eat, whether it be a seafood feast, fried noodles, or curry and rice, Yaowarat is always a delicious adventure!
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