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Thread: Chinatown's Food Street
20-01-06, 08:44 AM #1
Chinatown's Food Street
A CONNOISSEUR’S GUIDE TO CHINA TOWN’S FOOD STREETS
From Odeon Circle to Ratchawong Intersection
Bangkok’s China Town has sprawled out quite significantly in recentyears. The following guide to Yawaraj street food covers some of the most interesting foods found in the area between Odeon Circle, where a big Chinese gate stands, and the Ratchawong Intersection.
Follow the one-way road route along Yaowarat from Odeon Circle to Ratchawong Intersection. Turn right onto Ratchawong Road, and return via New Road (Charoen Krung Road) from the Seua Paa intersection back to the Chinese gate.Odeon Circle
Kui Jap Nai Ek rice-noodle broth
Kiya Meng Khanom Waan traditional desserts
Chinese Mooncakes Yim Yim crab claws and Chinese-Style sashimi
Thai Heng Hainanese cuisine
Khao Tom Plaa boiled rice soup with fish
Chay Po rice
Nai Mong – The best fried shellfish in China Town
Iew Kee Rice-Noodles with pork and kale gravy
Soi Texas ‘seafood paradise’ – fried shellfish and grilled seafood
Old fashioned khanom jeeb seasoned minced pork dumplings
Kui Jap Nai Ek rice-noodle broth
From Yaowarat, continue along the left side of the road for approximately 10 metres. You’ll come to a shop called Kui Jap Nai Ek that offers a flat rice-noodle dish with clear broth called kui jap.
Some other pork dishes are also on the menu, including khao khaa muu (stewed pork leg meat with rice) and khao muu daeng (red pork with rice and sauce).
Kiya Meng Khanom Waan traditional desserts
A sweet shop called Kiya Meng Khanom Waan is co-located in the same space. The desserts offered are simple: sweet potatoes cooked in syrup with ginger, mung beans cooked in syrup, and red sticky rice cooked in syrup. Desserts of this kind have become hard to find.
Continue walking until you come to Yaowaphanit Road. As you turn into this road from the intersection there are more interesting shops.
On the right, there’s a shop that sells the Chinese pastry called khanom pia wai phrajan. It is a version of the familiar flaky Chinese pastry called khanom pia that never changes its basic form: the filling is either durian paste or pureed kidney beans with crisp candied pumpkin.Continue along the left side of the road and you’ll arrive at another intersection.
Yim Yim Crab Claws and Chinese-Style Sashimi
A restaurant called Yim Yim is situated right on the corner of this second intersection. It has been open for many years and is famous for its crab claws baked in a clay pot and its Chinese version of sashimi, or raw fish. The fish is cut into almost paper-thin slices and should not be ordered unless a tableful of people are going to share it, as the restaurant serves an entire fish prepared this way. The dish is served with a sweet sauce that contains sesame seeds. Head back towards Yaowarat. Continue walking until you reach Isaranupaab Road. At night, this road is full of good things to eat. It comes to life after about 6.00 pm.
Continue until you have almost reached a major intersection called Ratchawong Intersection. You will be in the vicinity of the Shangarila Restaurant, a large establishment that is one of the branches of the main dining room on Silom Road.
The emphasis here is on quick rather than leisurely dining, but there is air conditioning and the service personnel are attractively dressed. The menu features single-dish entrees like raad naa (stir fries and other foods served over rice or noodles), and grilled duck over rice. Prices are lower than at the main restaurant on Silom Road.Directly across the street from the Shangarila is another interesting restaurant called Thai Heng. It is located in a narrow alley that has no sign to identify it. You can recognise it by the food stalls set up at the entrance to the alley, and by the antique shop called Num Antique that is right next to it.
Thai Heng Hainanese Cuisine
Thai Heng serves the best Hainanese cuisine in China Town. The khao man kai (Hainan chicken rice) and Hainanese-style sukiyaki are especially good. The latter is served as a pot of boiling broth and plates of fresh vegetables and thinly-sliced meat – pork, beef, chicken, according to preference – which patrons put into the soup using chopsticks to cook.
Khao Tom Plaa Boiled Rice Soup with Fish
Continue along Yaowarat, turn left onto Ratchawong Road and walk for a short distance until you find a shop that offers delicious khao tom plaa (rice soup with fish). The shop opens around 6.00 pm most evenings.
Two types of fish are served, sea bass and the local species called pla kao. The flavour is very good, enhanced by the addition of the small cubes of seasoned, fried pork known as ba teng and by thin strips of crisp-fried tofu placed on top. Boiled rice soup made this way, with ba teng and crisp tofu, is increasingly hard to find these days, but this shop makes it well and prices are low.Move on from Ratchawong Intersection; turn right on Ratchawong Road and turn right on New Road (Charoen Krung Road in Thai) to continue on the one-way route. Continue until you come to a small lane on the left-hand side of New Road called Soi Kanmatuyaram.
Chay Po Rice
On the corner of Soi Kanmatuyaram is a small shop that sells chay po rice, a type of rice that is the basis of the cuisine of the earliest Tae Chieu Chinese immigrants to Thailand.
It is an inexpensive dish made by taking chopped grilled duck, chopped crisp-fried pork, pork liver that has been simmered in the fragrant Chinese spice mixture called phalo, and chopped chicken legs. These are placed on some rice and topped with a sweet-salty soy sauce. These days it has become scarce in China Town, with only this one shop serving it. Customers can order it without the rice and enjoy just the meats with some beer.
A little further along New Road you will come to Mangkon Road, also on the left side.
Gaeng garee – mild Chinese-style curry
Right at the intersection is a curry and rice stand that specialises in the Chinese version of the mild curry Thais call gaeng garee. The coconut cream used to make it is very thin, like that used to make the Japanese version of the same curry. Several types are available, including versions made with pork, beef, and pork tendon. It is served with fried kunchieng sausage and sliced cucumbers and chillies.
Further along New Road, you will arrive at the Plaeng Nam intersection. When you reach it, look to the left. About 20 metres down across the street is a small restaurant called Nai Mong.
Nai Mong – The Best Fried Shellfish in China Town
Nai Mong is famous for its excellent fried shellfish. Two kinds of shellfish are available, oysters and mussels. Each is prepared differently. Mussels are mixed into the egg batter and fried, while for the oysters the batter is fried first until it is deliciously crispy, then the oysters in batter, cooked less intensively so that the shellfish remain juice and tender, are poured over it. Nai Mong’s fried shellfish are the best in China Town.
Turn back and head back towards New Road. Continue along it in the same direction and you’ll come to a bus stop. Go past it and you’ll see a row of modern style shophouses that stands out from the rest. Look for Iew Kee.
Iew Kee Rice-Noodles with Pork and Kale Gravy
Iew Kee specialises in memorably delicious kui tio laad naa – a dish made by cooking Chinese kale and pork in a thick gravy which is then poured over flat rice-noodles, broad or narrow, whichever is the preferred choice. There are two other streets to explore. Both run between New Road and Yaowarat and should be of great interest to the culinary explorer.
The first of them is Soi Phadungdao, more popularly known as Soi Texas because it was once the site of the long-gone Texas cinema. The second of the two crossroads is Plaeng Nam Road.
SOI PHADUNGDAO – alias ‘Soi Texas’
SEA FOOD PARADISE
Toward the middle of the soi is a fried shellfish restaurant whose mussels and oysters are similar in style to those served at Nai Mong near the Plaeng Nam intersection.
After dark the entrance to Soi Texas at the Yaowarat end is the site of grilled seafood restaurants. Grilled prawns, crabs, fish, and shellfish are served and the scene is very lively, with many tourists showing up to order a tableful. These places start serving after 6.00 pm and stay open till around midnight.
LAENG NAM ROAD
Old fashioned khanom jeeb dumplings
At about the midpoint of this road, in front of the entrance to the Chinese temple, a vendor with a traditional pushcart sells old fashioned khanom jeeb – seasoned minced pork wrapped in a sheet of wheat-flour noodle and steamed. This particular vendor sprinkles crisp-fried garlic and pours savoury soy sauce over the steamed dumplings, adding a rich flavour and aroma – but only if so desired.
The way in which the dumplings are served keeps with an ancient tradition that’s on the verge of extinction. They are presented to the customer in a small container made of dried banana leaves, the old-fashioned way. Practically nobody does this any more.Besides the culinary possibilities open to a hungry visitor to Bangkok’s China Town, there are a great many other attractions. There is the architecture of the many temple and shrines, the culture associated with the Chinese way of doing business, the glimpses of Chinese customs and traditions, especially around the major holidays, and much more. And from season to season there is a constantly changing choice of things to taste, see, and do in Thailand’s China Town.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
A former staff member of the Bangkok Post Outlook section, Suthon Sukphisit has written articles on Thailand’s art and culture and on topics related to Thai society, history, archaeology, architecture, environment and education. He now spends his leisure time pursuing another topic in which he is well-versed: food and cuisine.
20-01-06, 10:09 AM #2
20-01-06, 10:13 AM #3
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