Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Thailand, A Street Foodie Paradise

One of a thousand Pad Thai stands
Oh, how we longed for this day to come where we could feast on street food (hawker stands) in Thailand!  Especially when we were traveling through the Balkans about 6 weeks ago, eating yet another unidentifiable minced meat patty or something they called pizza.  

For so long, we've been dreaming about ordering food from one of the myriad food carts and watching the little old ladies whip up our pad thai, chicken fried rice, noodle soup, spring rolls, or grilled skewers of meat, right before our eyes.

In Bangkok, it's more difficult to avoid someone selling food than finding food.  Right outside our guesthouse in a back alley are probably 10 food vendors grilling, frying, or sautéing away!  Once we get to the main street, we can't hardly walk down the sidewalk because it is packed with food stalls on both sides.  We have no idea what most of the stuff is, but it all smells good.   

Here, there isn't just a certain area or neighborhood where one can find most of the hawker stands or restaurants.  They are ubiquitous.  Multiply the street food scene across the entire city of Bangkok and you get the picture. It makes us wonder if anyone does any cooking at home...what would be the point when you can buy everything on the streets and feed your family for a few bucks?

So, we're curious.  If much of the Thai food we've had in the States are typical street fare, why do the Thai restaurants in the States insist on trying to elevate the food to something other than street food by serving it in a restaurant surrounded by gaudy decor, white tablecloths, and an overpriced menu?  It doesn't even taste the same.  It's like serving tacos on a silver platter.  We all prefer to eat tacos from a taco truck, and wouldn't dream of paying more anyway.  Why can't they keep the same "street creds" with Thai food in the States? 

We've only been here a few days but we've managed to eat Thai food to our heart's content.  There will be a day when we'll want to switch it up for a change of flavors, but for now, it's all about the chicken, pork, Thai chilies, Thai basil, lime, curries, noodles, and rice.  Yum, yum.  

Our first roadside meal in Bangkok was an omelette over rice with homemade spicy Thai chili sauce. 
A Thai Curry store selling hundreds of curry blends.  
Sprin roll vendor. 
Singha is the one we knew of, but Chang, also from Thailand, is what we're drinking. 
Tiger is also another Thai beer brand.  Having a little more difficulty with this one.  It tastes fine but it's too reminiscent of the Auburn Tigers.  Even the coloring is the same... 

We haven't found a single bad or dried out chicken or pork.  It's all very tender and flavorful.  
Lady cutting up jackfruit to sell.  In the States, we've noticed this fruit, with its meaty texture, used in vegan cooking. 
He's the sautéed-corn-in-butter guy.  How simple is that?! 
Thai fried rice.  Slightly different thn Chinese fried rice because they use the more fragrant jasmine rice, plus, soy sauce is not a staple in Thai cooking.  They also serve with slices of cool cucumber to offset the heat from the Thai chilies. 
A pile of Penang Red Curry. 
Pad Thai with the requisite Thai basil, bean sprouts, lime, crushed peanuts, green onions, chicken; without the scary orange-y sauce that we usually see in the States.  Just the right balance of chilies, fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, tamarind, etc.  yum, yum. 
Soooo comforting to slurp a bowl of Thai Chicken Noodle Soup.  Delicious. 
It is apparent that the Japanese come in droves to visit Thailand.  Just about everything is written in  Japanese, while whole areas of Bangkok is like Little Tokyo.  We found Yamagoya Kyushu-style ramen joint in one of these places. 
Here's that bowl of Kyushu-style ramen in a pork-based milky broth.  Best ramen we've had since we left Japan about 5 months ago. 
And last but not least, looks like Hard Rock Cafe Bangkok got a facelift (left) from the original decor when Mike took the photo on the right, 16 years ago.