During the weekend afternoon, I took a trip down to Chatuchak market based on my friend’s recommendation and because I am also in search for the tasty street food that Bangkok is famous for. From the Plaza Athénée hotel, I took the BTS from Phloen Chit station to Saphan Khwai station and this is a nice train ride since it is above the city and passes through the Victory Monument roundabout.
Upon reaching the station, you can immediately notice the street stalls selling all kinds of stuff from old stamps and currencies to antiques. Just follow this road up north to reach the Kamphaeng Phet intersection which is also the main intersection marking the corner of Chatuchak market. One of the main motivation to visit Chatuchak is probably to eat and shop. And as the name indicates, this is an open air market, which means it is recommended to visit when the sky is clear and Thailand’s cool winter marks a great time.
The main entrance to the market is actually nearer to the Kamphaeng Phet MRT station though from the intersection, there are numerous smaller entrances via the stall. Entering via the main gate has some benefits for first time visitors as there is a good map providing details of the stalls. The market is segmented such that each area sells a particular product. Some sells household items, others sell casual clothes and there are also sections for accessories. The first one I head to was the food area, which is close to the main gate itself. One of the first dish I had was the coconut ice cream since I was thirsty for something after the short walk. And the ice cream did the job. There are numerous stalls selling this and I doubt there will be much difference in taste.
Another dish I found to be frequently sold was the ‘squid eggs’. It seems to be just fried squid tentacles with eggs and this is definitely not those healthy snack since it is oily but it makes for a tasty street dish. The stall also sells other delicacies like quail’s egg and other fried stuff like chicken fingers and fries.
After having these fried and oily snacks, it is best to head to the fruits and juices stall. Again, there are lots of stalls selling orange juice but I prefer the fresh pomegranate juice. For other refreshing choices, there was lemon honey, sugar cane and mixed fruit salad.
Being a market, there are also some exotic dishes like fried caterpillar and silk worm. They seem to be a delicacy in Thailand.
Finally for dessert, I had to have the mango with sticky rice. And this is one of the most common stall with the coconut ice cream vendors. Probably these 2 desserts are popular with shoppers who includes lots of tourists.
All in all, I spent a nice afternoon just exploring the market for food and practically had my lunch comprising of snacks in the market. There are also some food stalls with seating area that could serve Thai food like Pad Thai and Tom Yum Noodles though I was happy with just snacking! There are also various interesting shops in the market selling cheap t-shirts, jeans and accessories made by local designers and artisans. This would also be a place for those keen to hunt for Buddhist relics and antiques along with cheap aromatherapy products. Or come to think of it, I think they might just sell everything since even with half the afternoon, I did not really cover the whole market.
Some of the other food I enjoyed was actually just eating out at the food courts or the Thai restaurants found in the malls of Bangkok. Two of the largest malls I visited was Central World located just diagonally across Erawan shrine and Siam Paragon, just a short walk down beside Siam BTS Station. There is a food court in the ground floor of Siam Paragon since the main floor of the mall is technically on the second floor which is connected to the BTS Skytrain exit. The ground floor of the mall has a nice eatery that features Thailand’s street dish and I had a nicely presented pork satay with sticky rice and the butterfly pea drink commonly found around the country (also served onboard Thai Airways).
However I did not find the pork satay to be great, since I had a much better one at the food stalls in the mall just outside the supermarket. Anyway pork satay is indeed a ‘must-try’ dish in Thailand! There was also a stall selling pork lard with Thai chillies in the food hall area beside the ‘pork satay’ stall as well as other delicacies like crepes and grilled bananas.
For a country located in Asia, Thailand has managed to have food culture of its own, and its cuisine has a definitive place in the great cuisines of the world. From the tantalizing spices to the tasty fried and grilled dishes to the exotic fruits, I am a fan of Thai cuisine and one of the most enjoyable way to have it all is by eating small portions in the market and the food stalls of Bangkok!