Although we have been to Thailand numerous times before, I still feel like such a novice with the Bangkok food scene. I love my Pad Thai and my mango sticky rice, and can recognize a few more dishes beyond those, but I still find Bangkok intimating. It is a street food mecca and I often find myself paralyzed by indecision when looking at the variety of foods on offer.
During this trip to Bangkok, though, I wanted to explore more, I wanted to learn more, about the neighborhoods, and about the food. I wanted to get over this intimidation I felt. We therefore spent four hours on a Bangkok food tour with Taste of Thailand Food Tours in order to remedy this deficiency.
Exploring Thailand Through a Bangkok Food Tour
Our small group explored the Bang Rak neighborhood, which lies just to the east of the Chao Phraya river. Referred to as the village of love, I certainly fell in love with the city all over again on this Bangkok food tour.
We started just under the Saphan Taksin BTS station, where we learned a little about Bangkok and Thai history, before making our first pitstop, just around the corner. We stopped at a street stall selling curry puffs, called kalipap, in all different flavors. I really wanted to go with an old standby, like curry potato, but actually chose the black sesame seed puff, trying to be more adventurous. It was amazing, with a sweetness to the sesame seeds offset by the savory flavor of the crust. Already I was pleased with the tour for offering me foods I have never tried before.
Next, as we made our way more deeply into the Bang Rak neighborhood, we stopped at a roadside tea cart for an icy Thai iced tea. It was, a little embarrassingly, my first of this trip to Thailand. Called Cha Yen, it was sweet and creamy, just like I remembered.
We continued the Bangkok food tour as we made our way to the local wet market. Near the wet market was a simple shop front, I don’t even remember there being a sign. But, this shop is the go to place for fresh, home made chili pastes, made with lemongrass, galangal, cumin, coriander, coconut, and other spices. Although we could not taste, because it was all raw, the colors and smells made me salivate.
After, we stopped at a stall that sold traditional fish cakes, called tod man pla, dipped in a fish sauce. I like anything fried, and although I tend to shy away from many Asian fish dishes afraid that they will be too fishy, these were simply perfect.
A late-morning sweets stop, allowed us to taste a few authentic, traditional Thai desserts. I am still not sure what we ate, but it involved a lot of sticky rice and coconut and steamed bananas. We also tried a golden drop, made of egg yolk and flour, with jasmine and rose water. The golden drop is inspired by the Portuguese influence on Bangkok, of which I was unaware.
At a traditional Chinese shop house, that has been run by the same family for over 80 years, we tasted an herbal drink, nam comb, that is said to keep people young and healthy. It was certainly bitter, and as much as I could force myself to drink a glass a day to keep myself young, the owner of the shop drinks at least 4 glasses a day! They say “the more bitter, the better for you,” so this drink must be amazing for you!
I was quite happy to cleanse my palette at our next stop, a Chinese duck house. This was our “lunch” stop where we tried roasted duck with wanton noodles, and roasted duck rice. We were at one of the most famous shops in the neighborhood, and you could tell, it was packed with lunch goers all slurping down a little soup and dreamy duck filled wantons.
As if our “lunch” was not enough, we continued on the Bangkok food tour for even more tasty eats. After meandering through the Bang Rak neighborhood a bit more, and learning about the traditional way of life that still exists in the back alleys, we stopped for Issan cuisine, inspired from the northeastern areas of Thailand.
We tried laab moo, one of my favorites, which is a salad of minced pork, ground rice, spring onions and mint, along with a papaya salad, or som tum, made with grated, unripe green papayas, and other shredded vegetables with fish sauce, lime, garlic, chili, dried shrimp, and peanuts.
Together, these two dishes are what I learned Thai food to be. Before spending time in Thailand I knew Pad Thai and other similar dishes, but the minced pork salad and papaya salad, with their perfect combinations of sweet and spicy have come to identify Thai food for me.
What I loved about this Bangkok food tour program was that although we have been to Thailand so many times before, we still tried dishes we had never tasted. And, at the Issan restaurant, we tried Lemongrass salad, or yum takai. Yum indeed.
As a dessert before our final stop, we tried turtle egg snacks, which no, are not deep fried turtle eggs, but instead are filled with potato and taro. They are only named turtle eggs for their shape. No turtles were hurt in the making of this Bangkok food tour.
We have been on a lot of food tours recently, and they each were enjoyable in their own way, but the Taste of Thailand version of the Bangkok food tour was just something special. Our guide was peppy and knowledgable, having lived in Bangkok since she was six, and the entire production was handled so professionally. I loved my day walking Bang Rak, and exploring the Bangkok food tour scene!
We were hosted by Taste of Thailand Food Tours, but as always, my opinions and my yummy sounds are all my own. The Village of Love Food Tour generally costs only $35 per person!
For more tips about eating in Thailand, check out our Southeast Asia Food Guide.
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