Two, actually, but what a productive two nights/three days that was!
My mum, Sam and I all went for a quick weekend getaway to Bangkok during our 10 day holiday to Singapore, because we’re crazy like that. A bit of uh, holiday-ception, heh.
Started off the first afternoon at Mahboonkrong, also affectionately known as MBK Shopping Centre. It’s 7 (8?) floors of pure shopping and food, and is a mecca to consumer excess. All the shopkeepers are pretty much haggling-friendly, and you gotta bring your A-game to get the best deal! For a quick lunch I tried a Crispy Papaya Salad (pictured above), which basically involves them battering and deep-frying shredded green papaya, before mixing it in the way you’d mix up a regular Thai green papaya salad. So good, but so oily.
And for dinner, we found a $15 AUD hotpot buffet on the top level! They give you a choice of chicken or tom yum soup at individual pots at your seat, and the ingredients rotate along a conveyor belt, just like a sushi train! And a variety of chilli sauces up to your ears. I was in absolute heaven.
444 Phayathai Road, Bangkok
Pathumwan 10330, Thailand
Phone: +66 2 620 9000
Then it was off to explore the street food of Thailand, beginning with a trip to the famous Chatuchak weekend markets. For breakfast, my mom found us some delicious barbecued pork skewers (so tender, with a light sweet/salty taste) at street stalls along the way.
The road to Chatuchak from the train station was lined with all sorts of local skewers, and fresh fruit, but we’ll come back to them later, because it’s TIME TO SHOP.
Although, by Asian standards, we really failed at Bangkok shopping. Off all the shops and treasures available to us, we bought some scarves, some beautifully packaged spices, some underwear, and one dress. And some toiletries, but nothing like the boxes and suitcases that others bring back to Singapore! We had a small cabin suitcase and a backpack checked in amongst three people.
We’re clearly not shoppers.
But we still walked around a lot, and all that walking meant that it was time for lunch!
Located somewhere in the centre of the markets, there was a sit-down eatery that allowed us to put down our shopping and rest our tired legs. They had deliciously fresh drinks in massive servings – the Lemongrass and Honey was especially good – and my Braised Prawn and Glass Noodle was all sorts of sweet and salty, with the sticky strands of clear noodles soaking up all the flavour of the massive prawns. Topped with fresh coriander for a flavour-packed bite, this is one of the dishes I’d order at any Thai restaurant, if given the option.
And located in the inner centre street of the markets, there is a stand selling coconut ice cream on the half shell. Now, I’m not much of a coconut cream type of person, but there was something just so fresh about these little scoops, and costing just about $1.50 AUD, they give you a choice of three toppings to make this dessert just so much more complete.
Of course, before we leave for the afternoon, I absolutely had to sample as much of the street food as my tummy can handle!
Chicken skewers – meat, muscle, everything chicken! – are all marinated and ready to get grilled over a heady charcoal smoke.
Yum Mama, a local warm noodle salad made with the Mama brand of instant noodles are also readily available to order.
Chicken not your thing? They also have meat threaded onto circular bamboo skewers!
Along the way, we also saw these little crepe wafer thingies being made. Known as Khanom Buang, these involve a crispy base spread with a meringue filling, and topped with either a sweet – egg yolk strands soaked in a sugar syrup – or savoury – dried shrimp and chilli – topping. They are then folded over slightly, and sold at 5 for $0.40 AUD!! Omg so delicious.
And the food in Thailand is so awesome, even the food courts kick ass. You have to pay for a little cash card thing that allows you to pay for your food, and when you’re all done, you can get a refund at the same counter that you’ve bought the card at. We ordered Pad Thai (pictured above), Fried Carrot Cake(pictured below), and Khao Krok Kapi, a shrimp fried rice served with toppings like sliced omelette ribbons, fresh chilli, Thai sausages, crispy dried shrimp, and so on.
The Fried Carrot Cake was so different from the Singapore versions in that it was super crispy and smoky, because they fry off the rice cakes individually to create maximum browning! The Khao Krok Kapi was also a favourite for me – the fermented shrimp wasn’t overpowering, and added a light savoury flavour to the rice, that was enhanced by the mix of flavours from the toppings. Shredded green papaya added a sour tang, thin slices of sausage added a sweetness, and fresh bird’s eye chilli added an amazing kick of spice.
Whilst walking along the streets I spied yet more street stalls, this time selling a rice noodle salad in packets.
Wide sheets of flat rice noodles are packed into a plastic bag with salted radish, beansprouts and greens, and served to you with separate packets of sweet soy and chilli vinegar.
Of course, you can’t leave Thailand without having a plate of Som Tum – a Thai green papaya salad with fresh green beans, tomato, garlic, dried shrimp, dressed with fish sauce, chilli, sugar an lime juice. I’m absolutely addicted to this, and it’s one of my favourite summertime meals.
Or if a warm salad is more your thing, try a Yum Woon Sen if you like your spice. Clear mung bean noodles are cooked with seafood and vegetables, and dressed with lime juice, fish sauce and hot HOT chilli. The kind that builds the heat in your mouth the more you eat it.
My mouth is still watering thinking about it. Hurts so good.
It was an absolutely whirlwind crazy time in Bangkok, and the street food was even better than I remembered it last! Till next time, Thailand!
selfie at chatuchak