Bangkok’s Best Secret Street Food Spots
Done all the famous khao man gai and Isaan stalls in town? Here is a fresh batch of must-try sidewalk-level dining spots which we think are even better.
Good kratiem jeaw (fried garlic) alone can go a long way. But this noodle stall takes it to a whole new level. The noodles here are everything they should be, cooked to perfection—chewy, not too soggy and stewed in the most fragrant kratiem jeaw we’ve tried. The other ingredients are pretty special, too, and not just the fishballs, either; we’re addicted to the tender moo ghon (shredded pork) and tasty entrails. The best bowl (B30) is the haeng (without soup) version. Do call ahead for directions as their soi has no name.
Rama 4 Rd. (next to Tai Tang Duan Rama 4 Junction), 02-249-7316. Open daily 8am-3pm
Sat on the corner of this soi, Jae Cherry grills up big chunky chicken skewers (B10), marinated in rich spices and cooked to perfection. The golden brown meat is more tender on the inside than any other grilled chicken we’ve tried. It’s pointless trying to stop at just one, while the accompanying dipping sauce is totally delicious with a nice balance of spicy, salty and sour.
Charoenkrung Soi 103/1, 080-595-8449. Open daily 5-7pm.
This slightly hard-to-find stall is worth the effort for its must-try fishballs. They’re light yet tasty, delightfully melt-in-the-mouth but not soggy. They’re loaded with fish without being overly pungent and go beautifully with the noodles. Just like other great stalls, be sure to call ahead as they run out very quickly.
Soi Phraya Singhaseni, Rama 4 Rd., 02-215-2165, 086-555-1262. MRT Hua Lamphong. Open daily 7am-3pm
It may be out on the edge of Bangkok, but many foodies rank Gade Ocha as one of the best guay tiew nuea (beef noodles, B50) joints in town. There is a great richness and stickiness to their beef broth and the nuea toon is, of course, really tender and flavorful.
200 meters from the beginning of Pattanakarn Soi 53, Open daily 9:30am-1pm
Hidden in the small Burmese community in Phra Khanong, this tiny shophouse is habitually swarmed by Burmese ladies from the neighborhood. At the entrance to Phra Khanong Market, turn left down a small alleyway packed with colorful clothing, and eventually you’ll find yourself in Little Burma. T-shirts, raw betel nuts and all manner of spices are just some of the goods on display. Not too far away is this well-known Burmese eatery, where you’ll be greeted by the smiling face of Dao Giri, the Nepalese-Burmese cook. Her most popular dish among Burmese and Thais alike is mohinga (Burmese cold rice noodles, B35). It’s cheap, tasty and served up in a matter of minutes.
Phra Khanong Market, Sukhumvit Rd. Open daily 8am-5pm
One for those with plenty of patience, this noodles (B35) and congee (B30) stall gets their queues confused and orders all mixed up, but really, we think you should invest some time to sample the delicious bowl of pork noodles served here—and you may well find yourself going back. The standout is their pork, which is cooked to be very moist and is served in both noodles and congee—both excellent. The portion is very small, though, so order big from the get-go.
Sri Ayutthaya Rd. (near Phayathai Hospital), 081-622-3153. Open Tue-Sun 6-10pm
Shining out from the dark street thanks to its fluorescent lighting, Jay Yai does guay jub (Chinese noodles) in both thick and clear broths. Those who like a herbal soup with a great aroma of Chinese star anise should opt for the thick option but, really, both are equally good. The moo krob is insanely delicious, too. It’s crispy and it doesn’t have that burnt aftertaste you sometimes get elsewhere. Trok Nawa, Tanao Rd., 089-226-8577. Open daily 4-9pm
Chiang Mai organic farm and homestay Dara Dalay recently opened a small eatery here, and we find ourselves regularly returning for its authentic Northern dishes. Helmed by the friendly auntie who owns the farm, they do a brief list of Northern dishes including kanom jeen nam ngiaw (rice vermicelli with spicy pork and tomato soup, B40) and khao soi (B40). Their very addictive take on the latter dish features a perfectly rich soup with a nice balance of flavors, while the chicken is tender and moist. Almost every dish here is made with organic vegetables grown on the farm. We recommend you check their Facebook page (www.facebook. com/daradalay) for news on when they’ll be serving special treats like hed nueng namprik kha (steamed mushroom with galangal paste). Pichai Market, Pichai Rd., Dusit, 086-378-3837, 089-499-2878. www.daradalay.com. Open Mon-Sun 12-7pm
Everyone seems to be swamping Tang Sui Heng Pochana in Sapan Leung for their haan palo (braised goose) but we are pretty confident about this other contender. The little stall run by an auntie serves up an impressive poh pia sod (rice sheets stuffed with Chinese sausage and tofu), a specialty that is not too easy to find nowadays. Your B35 gets you some very good quality gun chiang (Chinese sausage), while the well-balanced gravy sauce is a classic balance of sweet, sour and salty, just as it’s supposed to be. The prik chee fah (Cayenne pepper) gives good contrast to the dish, too. Perfect for grab-and-go, or have it while feasting on the goose. Be warned, though, on some days she skips making the poh pia sod as she concentrates on selling her desserts.
Rama 4 Rd. (next to Tang Sui Heng). Open daily 8-11pm
This humble shophouse is a real hidden gem. Chairoj has been up and running for 70 years now, as you can tell from the pale greenish walls and vintage wooden furniture. The highlights of the brief Thai and Chinese menu have to be the pla krapong tod rad prik (fried seabass with chili and garlic, B80), fragrant tomyam (B80) and stewed ox tongue (B80) in Hainanese style, an increasingly rare find.
467/25 Phyathai Rd. (next to Phyathai Dental Group), 02-354-4090. BTS Phayathai. Open Mon- Sat 11am-8pm
We must admit, we were first drawn to this guay tiew nuea (noodles with beef) shophouse because of Richie, the fat, grumpy-looking bulldog sat out front. Ever since we tried Lee Nguan’s tasty noodles, though, we’ve been returning as often as possible— and not just for Richie. All the right ingredients are here for repeat visits, from the tender stewed beef and light but flavorful soup to the friendly service. If a bowl (B30) doesn’t fill you up, we recommend strolling a bit further to Phaholyothin Rd. and trying the yen ta fo noodles at Meng Pochana (02-279-2004, 085-321-8474. Open daily 9:30am-5pm), where the fishballs are just bursting with flavor.
7312 Saliratthawiphak Rd. (near Saphan Kwai Junction), 087-900-9600. Open daily 8am-3pm
Located on the busy Chan Road, this humble khao tom pla (soft-boiled rice with fish, B90) joint might not be a centuries-old institution but who cares, once you try their fresh seafood. The fish, shrimp and squid all seem to come from another planet they’re so huge, meaning you certainly get your money’s worth. As for their khao tom, the broth is well-balanced, slightly peppery and without any hint of fishiness.
Chan Rd. (in front of Soi 32/2), 02-211-0829. Open daily 5pm-midnight
Legend has it that the way guay tiew ruea (boat noodles) are sometimes mixed with blood was started by the Chinese who would store thier beef on a sieve covered with ice. The blood would drip down into a pan and they would use it to make the soup more flavorful. We, of course, don’t know what the original version tasted like, but we do know that this shophouse serves up a pretty mean bowl. Forget the famous guay tiew ruea Rangsit, and come here for truly deepflavored broth with tender pork (B40).
Nanglinchee Soi 5, 084-159-7393, 082-687- 7966. Open daily 7am-2pm
Almost everything at Salim Porn Charoen is homemade. Featuring fragrant candle-scented coconut milk, the maprao kati (coconut, B30) is rich, almost sinfully so, while the smooth, silky texture will have you calling for seconds. Of course, you can choose your own flavor by adding the likes of salim (grass noodles) and tubtim krob (water chestnut) though disappointingly, the latter is not as good as it used to be.
Soi Sampeng (200 meters from the beginning of the soi), Chakkaphet Rd. Open daily 9am-4pm
This place takes their bua loy (taro balls in coconut milk) pretty seriously. While the very popular bua loy joint in Phaholyothin is now closed, this one is also a strong contender. The colorful array of little balls are a really chewy delight served with fresh coconut milk that’s not too sweet, fragrant and perfectly thick and rich.
Charoennakorn Rd. (Klongsan Pier), 081-697- 5971. Open daily 1-7:30pm
Known as Somtam Khaya for its location, on the quieter side of Thammasat University Tha Prachan Campus, this stall may be small but it does a roaring trade. Despite its somewhat dodgy, burnt appearance, its fried chicken is a real treat. Marinated with spices and coated in a flavorful flour, the outside is nice and crispy while the flesh is simply succulent. If you pop in after noon, don’t expect any chicken though, as most will have been snapped up already.
16 August Rd. (right at the Phra Arthit entrance of Thammasat University). Open Mon-Fri 10am- 3pm
Lim Lao Sa occupies an old and charming space down a small alley. Open for more than 50 years, it’s now helmed by the second generation who are sticking to their family’s Teochew recipes. Everything’s homemade, from the giew pla (fish dumplings) to the fishballs in the guay tiew pla (noodles with fish, B60). The flavor is marvelous, as is the place: seat yourself by the pastel-framed windows as you contemplate your order of bamee (egg noodles), which features a sour sauce that gives the dish a welcome edge. The sen yai (rice noodles) is pretty unique, too—much lighter than you get at most places, so you needn’t feel guilty about ordering a second bowl. Do call ahead as opening times can vary and don’t mistake them for the other stalls around Bangkok boasting of using the same recipe under the Lim Lao Sa name.
Songwad Rd., 083-138-3636. Open daily 5:30- 10pm
Run by a grandma and her daughter, this stall is a shrine to the ever-comforting dessert that is kanom bueng (Thai pancake with stuffing). Here, you can be sure your B20 gets you a resolutely homemade treat: the foy thong (sweetened egg yolk) is not too sweet, while the coconut tastes fresh with a wonderfully fluffy texture. The pancake itself is thin, crispy and addictive. It’s fair to say that the opening times here can be pretty inconsistent—your safest bet for getting a delicious dessert is late afternoon (3pm-6pm).
In front of Ladprao Soi 33.
There’s nothing too revolutionary here, just one big, super-satisfying bowl of rad naa (noodles in gravy). The gravy is flavorful, perfectly balanced, while the pork is well seasoned and juicy. Just be warned that the sen yai (rice noodles) usually runs out around noon.
Soi Saladaeng, Silom Rd., 081-931-3380. Open daily 10am-3pm