Oct 12, 2012
This week’s guest post is brought to you by Sam, a well travelled writer with a passion for Thai street food.
When I first arrived in Bangkok I was slightly apprehensive about dining out. I had heard fantastic things about the quality of Thai cuisine but had no idea where to begin. I also didn’t fancy spending the duration of my trip hugging a hostel toilet. Still, I was determined not to live off imported kit-kats and Thai pot noodles for the coming weeks, so I headed out to sample the street food. Suffice to say I was soon streetwise, and here share with you the dos and don’ts based on my experience:
Don’t: Bottle It
Ok, so as soon as you step out of any establishment in Bangkok you are going to be faced with Thailand’s illustrious myriad of street food merchants, all of them tempting you with their sizzling delights. So what do you do? Panic and hide in the nearest Subway or KFC?
Be brave, faithful wanderer. You haven’t ventured all the way to South Asia to sample the delicacies of Colonel’s popcorn chicken. Muster up the courage and eat on the streets!
Do: Use Your Noggin
The laws of common sense need not abandon you just because you’re a long way from home. Aim for food that has obviously been cooked through for a long time. This includes pans of food on the boil such as soups and curries and vats of the famous pad thai. If you choose anything grilled or barbecued there’s no reason why it will be dodgy, just cut it open and make sure it’s properly cooked first.
Don’t: Risk it for a Biscuit
If your friendly part-time street chef reaches for a stick of raw and well sunbathed chicken to add to the grill then don’t just cross your fingers and hope for the best, politely pay and leave. It’s best to follow your instincts to some extent, and if you see something that seems unhygienic or a health risk, get your food somewhere else.
Do: Follow the Crowd
The simple method of choosing to eat where others are eating is always a winner. Tourists will locate their favourite food stands and constantly return to somewhere they trust. This goes for the Thai locals too, who are the best informed diners.
Don’t: Eat Raw
The final rule of smart-street-eating is to choose food which needs to be cooked at a high temperature before eating. If you are offered some form of green leafy vegetable which more accurately resembles an old teabag then kindly refuse and get out of there. In the case of fruit, you might want to give it a wash with bottled water before you nibble.
So there you have it, the basic rules of Bangkok street food survival. Don’t cower away under the golden ‘M’ clutching a fillet-o-fish! Get out onto the streets, as they are littered with endless authentic Thai taste sensations for a fraction of the price.
WARNING: once all anxiety over street food is successfully discarded, eating out can become quite the addiction; you may find yourself having to purchase an extra seat on the plane back home.
Sam Hudson is a writer and musician currently living in West Yorkshire and studies MA in Writing for Performance and Publication. His journalistic experience began at university when he began writing for the WesternEye which eventually lead to him being positioned as co-editor. His other main passion lies in writing/performing original music and travelling the world at any opportunity he can get.