Thai cuisine – Eat freely like the locals
Nestled among the soaring buildings is a small restaurant which has been around for dozens of years. In the grey industrialized space are kitchens with the sound of food cooking. The blend of culture and architecture with fresh ingredients and the unparalleled Thai recipes can impress every visitor.
As told by history, a majority of Thai people are descendants of migrants from southern China. In the new land, they continued preparing dishes with signature spices of the Yunnan region. This is why most Thai cuisine is spicy.
On the other side, the cuisine retains its attributes despite having been influenced by the two neighboring countries – Malaysia and India. Curry flour, dried shrimp powder, lemongrass, dill, cardamom powder, coriander, and satay can be found in Thai dishes.
Although Thai people attend to balancing the 5 basic flavors: salty, sweet, sour, spicy, and bitter; spiciness is the strongest. Some claim that this is their only prejudice against Thai food. Dishes are very spicy even when it’s not the primary flavor. It’s difficult for foodies like me. Having fallen in love with spicy food, whenever visiting Thailand, I usually eat tongue-searing meals and then complain about how spicy Thai food is!
Tom Yum Goong
The blend of lemongrass, chilis, galangal, lemon leaves, dried onion, lime, fish sauce, and greasy shrimp makes Tom Yum Goong the pride of Thailand. In any place at any time, even when you are cycling in a breeze of the North Sea or wandering in District 13 Paris which are home to some scrumptious dishes, the spicy flavor and scent of lemongrass in Tom Yum Goong lingers on your palate, leading you to what you should revisit.
Meanwhile, Somtum (green papaya salad) from the Northeastern area (Issan) is a strange dish. Diners can be divided into two groups, those who are addicted to it and those who just shake their heads when someone tells them to try it. Somtum is prepared with main ingredients of garlic, chili, green bean, tomato, shredded papaya, and fish sauce. In some places, peanuts, dried shrimp or crab are added to make a salad more crispy and tasty. After preparing all these ingredients, the chef will put them into a pestle and pound them for a while.
Pad Thai (sweet sour fried noodles) – a popular dish in every corner of Thailand – also comes with a plate of chili powder. Whenever I go to eat Pad Thai with Penpisut, my local friend, I see her add a bowl of chili powder to her plate without batting an eye. Sometimes she even asks for more chili! She probably knows how much spice she can tolerate. Maybe it’s how she awakens her taste buds.
For me, I usually order a plate of mango sticky rice after enjoying Pad Thai. It’s best to enjoying mango sticky rice at Food Republic which is designed like New York’s SOHO with raw materials after wandering around Siam Center. This makes me feel that I’m eating my hometown’s dish at the center of the world.
Another location I love in Bangkok is the Yodpiman River Walk on the bank of the Chao Phraya River. As Yodpiman was just opened in 2014, many locals have not visited this entertainment and restaurant complex. Unlike the busy Asiatique, at Yodpima, you can have traditional Thai food at Je Ngor, Japanese food at Ootoya, or explore the coffee shops, jewelry shops, or lovely stores selling handicrafts.
Yodpiman River Walk
One more reason I love Yodpiman is that I feel compelled to walk through the complex’s back yard to visit the famous flower market, Talad Pak Klong. The wide spectrum of colors and scents is a shortcut to Bangkok’s Old Town where you can see locals freely enjoying their dishes or a quiet lunch. Save this simple moment as you can not find it at any food court in shopping malls or chains of impressively decorated restaurants in Siam or Sukhumvit.
Directions: To visit the Yodpiman River Walk, you can go to BTS to Saphan Taskin wharf, find the place of Yodpiman ships or travel by taxi to Talad Pak Klong, cross the market, and enter the complex from the back gate.
Explore: If you are a fan of afternoon tea, pastries, and coffee, don’t miss a chance to visit Casa Lapin to experience one of the favorite places to chill out for Bangkok locals. An artisanal flower shop is nestled in front of the café. You can simply knock the door and ask to explore that lovely world.