Our top picks in Bangkok's foodie-friendly neighborhoods Ratchawat and Sri Yan.
1116/4 Nakornchaisri Rd., Ratchawat, 02-241-4879. Open Wed-Mon 8am-2pm
A.K.A. Guay Tiew Nuea Naa Sapha, the place was originally a zaleng (pushcart) selling beef noodles in front of the parliament some 30 years ago. The guay niew nuea (B30) here are often described as the best in town. The soup is indeed succulent, aromatic and bursting with beefy flavors, while the big chunks of beef are tender and toothsome.
Nakornchaisri Rd., Sri Yan, 086-973-0756, 080-973-5772. Open daily 4-10pm
Sat in front of Soi Chantima Theatre, Orawan might seem even grungier than your average stall, but we guarantee a dish of pad Thai (B30) here will make you forget any worries about hygiene. The daughter of the owner told us that her secret lies in the top-notch ingredients they use, such as real tamarind sauce. It shows. The result is a powerful flavor with pitch-perfect balance.
Nai Ma Yod Pak
775 Nakornchaisri Rd., Ratchawat 02-241-1860. Open Mon-Fri 11am-2pm; 5pm-12:30am
The yod pak rad na (B50) here contains only young kale leaves and they peel off the skin of the kale, which is pretty darn impressive for a basic rad na (noodles in thick gravy) shophouse. Nai Ma has been in the business for more than 50 years and now his son continues with the same recipe—with no added MSG (for those who care). Another thing we like is the delicious, tender and juicy pork. We suggest you opt for the kao lao pad see ew (stir-fried pork and kale with soy sauce, B60) and khao pad prik kana (stir-fried pork and kale with chili served with rice, B60), both equally impressive dishes.
Khao Tom Sri Yan
103 Nakornchaisri Rd., Sri Yan, 02-241-1897. Open daily 5pm-1am
If the charming and nostalgic look of this shophouse cannot attract you to walk in, their food certainly will. The place focuses on khao tom (boiled rice) and a brief list of made-to-order dishes that ranges from kha moo palo (stewed pork knuckle, B40) and pad pak (stir-fried vegetables, B40) to pla chon tom khem (steamed catfish in soy sauce, B50). The food might be old school, but what matters is the great taste and the freshness of the vegetables.
Den Sri Yan
In front of S&P Sri Yan, Nakornchaisri Rd., Sri Yan, 089-501-5610. Open daily 5pm-midnight
A few steps from Khao Tom Sri Yan, this stall attracts throngs queuing up for its guay tiew gai toon nam dang (noodles with steamed chicken in herbal soup). The most popular parts are the chicken legs and feet with mouth-watering, fall-off-the-bone meat. The broth is also luscious and that might explain the long waits you’ll have to put up with for a taste of perfection. Prices start from B35 for the chicken leg.
Look Chin Sri Yan
151/1 Nakornchaisri Rd., Sri Yan, 02-243-3537. Open daily 7am-4pm
It’s been here for over 40 years and you’ve probably already heard of it. Look Chin Sri Yan has never opened any branches so this is the only true place to get your meatball and noodles (B35) fix. The look chin here have a bouncy, meaty texture and a potent flavor that indicates very little flour goes into the mix. The clear broth is just as addictive, so that you’ll be tempted to drink from the bowl. Hot tip: do call ahead if you want to drop by in the afternoon as they run out of beef balls pretty early.
Hor Mok Mae Boonma
Near Sri Yan Soi 1, Sri Yan, 081-582-7345. Open Tue-Sun 8am-3pm
The friendly auntie of an owner tells us that she’s been selling hor mok (fishcakes) for some 20 years. With top quality catfish and clown featherback, prices are a bit of a steal at just B20 a piece. Expect generous chunks of fish without the fishy smell. All ingredients are fresh, including the coconut topping. Deep-fried catfish bones are available on Sun, but do call ahead if you plan to visit after 2pm.
Kanom Krok Kao Wang
Across from Ratchawat Market, Ratchawat, 081-916-0974, 02-241-3840, 02-591-5998. Open daily 5-11pm
Once you’re done with the savory highlights, treat your stomach right with some dessert, like kanom krok (coconut pudding). This stall is plastered with pictures telling of royal visits, hence the name Kao Wang (“Enter the Palace”). The kanom krok is very light, fresh and crunchy, while the coconut milk is so superb you may just gobble everything up instead of bringing some back to your office or family. Get the original flavor (28 pieces for B40) and avoid bagging the hot box so it doesn’t get soggy.