Few cities can rival Bangkok when it comes to street food variety and quality.
Spicy noodles, glistening rice porridges, wobbly pork legs, even gem-like sweets. All can be had for a handful of change and minimal fuss.
Although every Bangkokian worth his or her food cred has their own particular favorite, these 10 dishes are what beckon me back to the sweltering roadside again and again.
1. Oyster omelets at Nai Mong Hoy Tod
To some diners, streetside oyster omelets might sound like the height of idiocy, but these mollusk-topped creations are some of the tastiest street treats in the city.
Nai Mong offers you a choice of mussel or oyster, with soft or crispy dough, but extra-crispy oyster (hoy nongrom grob grob) is highly recommended: buoyant, crunchy egg topped with a plump, briny taste of the ocean.
539 Soi Prapachai. +66 (0)2 623 1890. Open daily, 11 a.m-1:30 a.m. daily. 65 baht/plate
2. Stuffed flat noodles at Guaythiew Lod
This Chinese-style delicacy is unabashedly, exuberantly delicious: stuffed to overflowing with pork, shiitake mushrooms and squid, topped with bean sprouts, scallion and deep-fried garlic and bathed in a sweet soy sauce.
Look closely for the added bonus — tiny dried shrimp embedded in the noodle dough.
Yaowarat Road, Chinatown. in front of Seiko watch shop. +66 (0)2 225 3558. Open 6:30 p.m.-1 a.m. except Mondays. 35 baht/bowl
3. Chinese-style egg noodles at Bamee Slow
This is usually the first place I head to after a long trip away from home. Over the years, the taciturn owner has built up a loyal clientele willing to wait up to half an hour for a bowl of noodles, but every regular has his or her favorite order.
Mine is “dry noodles” (bamee hang), topped with slivered, blanched greens, barbecued pork and a hard-boiled egg, with the minced pork broth separate.
Entrance to Ekamai Soi 19. Open daily, 8:30 p.m.-3 a.m. 55 baht/bowl
4. Samosas at Samosa
In a city full of soupy noodles and rice dishes, Samosa offers a rare glimpse of the Indian subcontinent in the form of deep-fried dough triangles stuffed with spicy potatoes and accompanied by a deliciously tart tamarind sauce.
Unlike most Thai street food, these samosas are just as good, if not better, the next day at home.
Chakrapet Road, next to India Emporium. +66 (0)2 222 0090. Open 9 a.m.-6:30 p.m., Monday-Saturday. 10 a.m-6:30 p.m. Sunday. 10 baht each.
5. Crab omelets at Jay Fai
Defying the belief that all street food is cheap, this crab omelet (kai jiew pu), once a whopping 500 baht, now costs a ridiculous 800 baht, thanks to soaring food prices, says Jay Fai.
That said, the mammoth chunks of fresh, sweet crab and the slight, almost delicate net of egg binding them — inspired by the way the Japanese make their egg omelets — are pretty much worth it.
327 Mahachai Road. +66 (0)2 223 9384. Open 3 p.m.-2 a.m. except Saturdays
6. Thai-Muslim yellow chicken rice at Khao Mok Gai on Convent Road
Another hard-to-find treat on Bangkok sidewalks is this yellow chicken rice — also referred to as Thai-Muslim chicken “biryani” — flavored with a hearty helping of “Islam spices” (krung tet Islam).
A lunchtime favorite among the white-collar set, this dish is rounded out by a helping of super-spicy chicken soup (30 baht).
Convent Road, in front of Bua Restaurant, open lunchtime on weekdays, 30-50 baht/plate
7. Chicken wings in broth at Guaythiew Pik Gai Sai Nampung
Go early if you want to catch the chicken wings in chicken broth (gow low pik gai), crowned with a sprinkling of cowslip blossoms (dok kachorn) – it runs out by 10 a.m.
If you are not a morning person, consider the giem ee (Chinese hand-rolled noodles), another treat that is difficult to find streetside in Bangkok.
392/20 Sukhumvit. +66 (0)2 258 1958. Open daily, 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. 45 baht/bowl
8. Grilled meatballs at Anamai
You might think grilled meatballs will be good no matter where you buy them. Unfortunately, there are a lot more misses than hits on Bangkok’s streets.
Beef meatball fans should trek to this noodle stand next to Bangkok Hospital for a few sticks, grilled over an open flame and slathered in a sweet chili sauce.
3 Soonvijai Soi 7. +66 (0)2 318 1606. Open daily, 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m., 40 baht/5 sticks
9. Egg noodles in tom yum broth at Gobu Rot Sing
This noodle stand is hard to find. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep trying — the noodles, surrounded by a peanut-studded sweet-spicy lemongrass broth and topped with two soft-boiled eggs, is worth the trouble.
Klong Jan, across from Nida. +66 (0)86 884 1453, open 24 hours, 45 baht/bowl
10. Thai dessert at Nam Kaeng Sai Khun Muk
The sky is the limit when it comes to placing an order here: a dizzying array of dumplings, jellies and fruit, in coconut milk, lumyai juice or ginger syrup, topped by a mound of shaved ice awaits whomever can make up their minds.
The result is incredibly refreshing, the perfect end to any street food meal.
Sukhumvit Soi 38, open 6:30 p.m.-2 a.m. 20 baht/bowl