I first came to Bangkok in 2019, after the street food apocalypse. I didn’t let that stop me though, I tried all the foods! From proper German fare, Michelin rated Pad Thai joints, to tucked away Thai street food.
- AVOID PLACES WITH LONG LINES OF #TOURISTS (Sorry Not Sorry)
- SEE LOCALS = GO FOR IT
- DON’T BE DISCOURAGED IF IT SEEMS DIRTY
- SCOOP EVERYTHING ONTO YOUR SPOON
- SCREW THE REVIEWS, JUST TRY EVERYTHING
KNOW YOUR CONDIMENTS
Every street food joint has a rack of condiments. Thai people like things sweet, salty, and spicy, so you will always have sugar, chili and fish sauce. Fish sauce is usually made from anchovies and has a unique salty flavor, sometimes people mix chili with fish sauce to make a salty spicy sauce.
LOCAL STREET FOOD
Before the Bangkok street food apocalypse, there was an abundance of inexpensive street food but now it’s scattered all across the different neighborhoods. Luckily for me, there were a number of vendors right outside of my hotel. In fact, the best food I had was from this one cart (across from the family mart), I kept going back there even after I checked out. Now, people will say that street food is cheap, but since the apocalypse the prices have been rising, especially for Thailand, $3 a soup is expensive! These vendors can be hard to find, but a good rule can be to try a simple dish like Tom Kha Gha or Tom Yum Kung. If it is out of the park, you can order more adventurous dishes. I won’t tell you what they are, you will see for yourself when you go,
THE MICHELIN STAR/HIGHLY REVIEWED JOINTS
I went to two places that have a Michelin star and highly rated, swarms of tourists and all… now ironically these places are cheaper than the street vendors I went to and not nearly as good. I ordered Pad Thai, ok yeah yeah, “Typical American”… but I love Pad Thai so judge me! The Pad Thai from both of these places was flavorless and bland. If anything, I wish it was too much, too sour, to tangy, too spicy, but it was tasteless. Thai food is known for it’s punchy signature flavors like sour, salty, sweet, and spicy.
I GOT SICK FROM A GERMAN RESTAURANT
Outside of my hotel, there was a proper German restaurant I really wanted to try. It was so cute like a mini beer hall, and I hadn’t had proper western food in a while so I caved and got a breakfast. It was delicious! However, about an hour later while walking around a temple, I got a rude awakening. The irony is that the places that would have D sanitary ratings back in NYC, are probably ok in Thailand. At least from my experience…
WEBSITE REVIEWS WERE DISAPPOINTING
If it looks good, then just try it. Don’t rely on reviews or websites, I went all around the city chasing reviews trying to find the best places and I was always disappointed. In fact, one of the best places I tried was next to a “Michelin” starred joint. I saw what the guy (a local) next to me ordered, thought it looked good (it was amazing) and just ordered the same thing. No one spoke English so I didn’t even really know what I was eating.
Check out a spot, if you see tons of locals enjoying a meal, sit yourself down and go for it!