Getting a Meal
Thai cuisine in Bangkok offers more choices than the usual pad thai or spring rolls, although those staples are found everywhere. The Thais like their food super spicy, so if you can’t handle the heat, learn to ask for less. “Mai chawp phet” (sounds like “my chop pet”) means “I don’t like it hot and spicy.” Chopsticks aren’t native to Thailand, so you won’t need them in restaurants. You might get them from roadside carts or in northern Thailand (such as Chiang Mai), but most often you’ll be given a fork and a spoon. Use the fork in your left hand to push food onto the spoon in your right – the spoon should be the only utensil to go into your mouth. Eating with your left hand is considered taboo (the Thais see that hand as unclean).
Food from roadside stands is one of the cheapest and most popular ways to eat in Thailand. If you can watch it made fresh in front of you, there’s less worry about food safety. Avoid stalls with meat that might have been sitting in the sun for hours (or even a week!). Khao San Road is lined with such carts, often serving pad thai or mixed noodles, fried spring rolls or dumplings, and rich and gooey banana pancakes for dessert.
Since drinking tap water in Thailand is still considered a no-no, hit up convenience stores for big bottles of water. Also watch out for ice – usually it’s safe, but if you’re worried, ask the waiter. Other drinks to try are Singha, Chang and Kloster beer and Mekong whiskey. The whiskey is half as potent as Western whiskey, but it’s still popular in the city and throughout the country (especially the islands).
A view of the Chao Phraya River from the boardwalk near Ton
Ton Pho: Located along the Chao Phraya River, this restaurant has a view of river ferries passing by, and you can walk on the boardwalk after dinner. It’s a bit of a trek from Khao San Road, but it shouldn’t be a problem. Entrees cost 60-200 baht, and specialties include curries and seafood (such as crab or prawns) you usually wouldn’t find at street stands. There’s also good fresh-squeezed orange and lemon juice.
Vijit: We got recommendations for here from the Lonely Planet guide and at least three native Thais. The restaurant, located on the circle roundabout of Democracy Monument near Khao San Road, is very nice, with a stage for musicians and tanks for fresh fish. The food was good, pricier than street fare (70-200 baht), but it was difficult to order because the staff speaks little English. They were impatient while we looked through the extensive menu and then forgot my half of the order. Go to this restaurant with someone who speaks good Thai or if you’re willing to be patient and point at everything.
Prasuri Guest House: School children come here for breakfast and lunch on the mornings they monopolize the computers. The café makes great fruit shakes and boasts an excellent menu of both European and Thai food. It offers a wide selection of breakfast foods (like croissants and eggs) and chicken, pork, seafood or vegetarian options for all Thai entrees. Most entrees are 20-80 baht.