Bangkok, at any time of the year, is a place that is hard to capture with a single idea. Masses throng the city centre as motorcycles zip past gridlocked cars on interweaving roads. At the same time, she never fails to draw the crowds like an immortal movie star. This is Bangkok; she never loses her verve. Back when things got too predictable, cafés exploded onto the scene, what with the thriving coffee trade in Thailand. Street grub is remade and intermixed with borrowed flavours.
When night comes, the city is not ready to hit the sack. Incandescent lights colour bleary streets and the aroma from cooking pots forms a trail. As the world falls into a slumber, Bangkok is at her most vivacious.
Look forward to: Street food
Where: 21/40 Thanon Ngamwongwan, Khwaeng Lat Yao, Khet Chatuchak, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10900, Thailand
The after school coteries are aplenty at this far-flung café many miles away from the city centre. A 24 hour coffee joint within the university town of Rangsit, READ Café’s cushy corners are where students mug and patrons eat. The menu’s to-die-for dishes are the sweet treats – pancakes dusted with granola and honeyed french toasts.
Where: Chatuchak Weekend Market, Project 2, Soi 38/3 Road, Kamphaeng Phet 2, Chatuchak District, Bangkok, Thailand
What: Stir-fried crab meat and mango sticky brown rice
For: Communal dining with friends
For unpretentious Thai eats, Prik Yuak is sure to win your heart. This rickety khao gaeng (rice and curry) shop is hidden in a corner of Chatuchak. Owner Ann does the whole nine yards – stir-fried crab meat, fish curry, fried garlic squid, garlic pork liver, tom yum kung, phanaeng pork curry, eggs stir-fried with crab meat, and brown rice. The best way to go about doing this is to go communal dining with friends. Small dishes are shared while you have your own rice on a plate. For dessert, go for the mango sticky brown rice.
Khao Kha Moo Truk Sung
Where: Soi Phetchaburi 30, Khwaeng Lumphini, Khet Pathum Wan, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10330, Thailand
What: Pig trotter rice
Synonymous with local Thai fare, khao kha moo is a down-to-earth everyman favourite. Pig trotters are braised for hours, then dished over a plate of rice and served with a side of preserved vegetables. This under-the-block shop does theirs with a bowl of bitter gourd soup. The day ends when the trotters are sold out, usually by mid-day.
Phatsaya Village Phad Thai
Where: 59/79 Soi Tha Sai 1, Khwaeng Thung Song Hong, Khet Lak Si, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10210, Thailand
What: Phad thai
This street stall does a mean plate of phad thai with your choice of prawns, mussels, or both. This place only opens in the night, so make it a supper visit. There are only three seats but the people just keep coming.
Where: 68/51 Soi Phetchburi 5, Phetchburi Road, Thung Phaya Thai Subdistrict, Ratchathewi District, Bangkok 10400, Thailand
What: Tom yum goong
The strong broth laden with prawn stock is what makes the tom yum goong at P’Aor a winner. If you are unafraid of spice, go with the option of having rice noodles in the soup. For those who go for unconventional digs, the lobster tom yum goong will win you over. Queues are wonted but they move fast; it’s not a place to sit and dawdle.
Chatuchak Coconut Ice Cream
Where: Chatuchak, Bangkok 10900, Thailand
What: Coconut ice cream
For: A cooling dessert
Bangkok’s coconut ice cream can be found in the makeshift shops along the main street of Chatuchak Market. There are many in the coconut ice cream trade, but the fabled one comes in a husk, and includes two toppings and a cup of coconut water. Go for the sticky rice and peanut toppings – they are absolutely divine.
Sukhumvit Soi 38 Wanton Noodles
Where: Soi Sukhumvit 38, Phra Khanong, Khlong Toei, Bangkok 10110, Thailand
What: Wanton noodles
For: A late night snack
Once a midnight food haunt, Sukhumvit Soi 38 has lost its lustre following a prolonged hiatus. A baa mee (wanton noodles) stall – amongst a handful of others – still stands strong, dishing out bowls of noodles into the wee hours of the night. Order a small bowl, then head next door for a mango sticky rice.