Good eats; cheap prices—get more bang for your baht in Bangrak.
Hankering for some soothing comfort food? The first road in Bangkok, Charoenkrung, is always crazy busy, but it’s also full of good old Thai food classics—particularly between the Silom and Sathorn intersections.
We knew exactly where to kick off our taste trek. Joke Prince (1391 Charoenkrung Rd., across from Robinson Bangrak, 02-234-9407. Open daily 6am-12pm and 5-9pm) serves up traditional bowls of piping-hot rice porridge (B30) that are full-bodied with a natural, smoky flavor. Just a bowl of this yumminess is reason enough to trek out there.
Love the famous khao mun kai at Pratunam, well there’s a small no-name shophouse right that will cure that craving (Charoenkrung Rd., next to Wat Suthiwararam, 081-817-5803. Open daily 5pm-10pm). We recommend the nuea nong (chicken leg meat, B30), which couldn't get any juicier than this. The accompanying sauce is full of flavor and the rice is perfectly cooked and not too greasy.
Starving to death? Then try noodle stall Hia Aoun (Charoenkrung Rd., next to Assumption College, 089-476-2241. Open daily 8am-6pm), aka Hia Sum. Hia Sum offers a huge bowl of noodles (B30-B50), loaded with tasty meatballs. And don’t forget to try their spring rolls, as well.
Prajak Ped Yang’s (1415 Charoenkrung Rd., 02-234-3755, 083-910-1444. Open daily 8am-8:30pm. www.prachakrestaurant.com) reputation precedes it, as you can tell from the myriad newspaper and magazine reviews plastered on the wall. The ped yang (grilled duck, B60-B100 for a plate) is very tender and flavorful, while their bamee (noodles with grilled duck, B45) comes with a nice texture and a slight smell of fresh egg. Don't forget to try the shrimp wonton (B35), too: big chunks of shrimp stuffed inside a light dough.
Just a few steps from Prajak is Yun Wo Yun (1443 Charoenkrung Rd., 02-234-8178. Open daily 8am-9:30pm). Pull up a chair here and try one of their many kinds of Chinese herbal drinks (B6 for a glass) like jab lieng, chrysanthemum tea or tiger herbal. Whether the health benefits they tout are actually true or not, we think it's fun to try some bitter drinks made using recipes that have been passed on for more than 80 years.
Now, let’s get back to some noodles. Jao Long (1450 Charoenkrung Rd., 02-234-7499. Open daily 7am-9pm), inside a shophouse, dishes out bowls of noodles with fishballs (B30), which are always reliable. The fishballs, made from pla insee (Spanish mackerel) are chewy and consistently fresh.
Otherwise, try Jae Lee (1387 Charoenkrung Rd., 02-234-2791. Open daily 7:30am-9:30pm, except every second and fourth Sunday of the month) across the road, which offers similar dishes (B30) and also packs a crowd at lunch. Their fishballs are homemade, too, so it’s all a matter of personal taste when deciding which establishment is better.
Eat, drink and, of course, snack: Jae Noi (in front of Soi Sriwiang. Open Tue-Sun 9am-7pm) sells deep fried slices of bananas, sweet potatoes and taros at her small stall. Take a friend with you because there is usually a fairly long queue for her treats, but trust us, it is worth the wait. The fried bananas and coconut (B20 for a bag) are the perfect combination of outer crispiness and a very tender inside.
We end our trek with one of Thailand’s most famous desserts: mango and sticky rice. This legendary treat can also be found at Boonsub (1478 across from Top Charoen Optical, 02-234-4086. Open daily 8am-6:30pm), which has been popular and well-known for more than 70 years. The mango (its price depends on the market, khao niew is B140 for a kg) is available only in the summer, but you can always try other desserts, such as khao niew sangkaya (sticky rice topped with Thai custard, B25).