Fine food enthusiasts in Bangkok have an opportunity this weekend to participate in the “International TASTE 2011 Amazing Thailand”. This is taking place at Parc Paragon which is the area in front of Siam Paragon. About 30 of the best restaurants in Thailand have been selected to present their signature dishes from various national cuisines such as Thai, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Italian and American.
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What is most interesting is that all of these delicious dishes and desserts have been made from local ingredients. For example, high-quality Kurobuta pork from a farm in Chonburi, fresh trout from Chiang Mai, Mozzarella from Chachoengsao and gourmet Japanese rice from Mae Chan district in Chiang Rai. The quality is high so you will probably not notice the difference.
The 30 well-known restaurants at the event include Portobello Day Cafe, Swang (Hua Lam Pong), Mu State Pinkaew, Arirang, Indus and many more. You can eat the food at the festival or takeaway. Prices start from a low 30 baht. It is a great opportunity to try out a variety of different international cuisine in one place. Just make sure that you turn up hungry as I must have snacked from at least six different stalls when I went yesterday.
As well as the food, there is also live entertainment which includes games, music and cooking shows. If you register when you arrive you will also receive a free copy of the “International TASTE 2011” book which is beautifully illustrated with recipes and cooking methods from several famous restaurants. I have posted the full schedule over at Thai Festival Blogs. The food festival runs until the evening of Sunday 24th July 2011.
If you enjoy eating Thai food like myself then you probably have dozens of Thai cook books at home. Another kind of book that I have is for Bangkok restaurant reviews. However, what I am most interested in these days is Thai Street Food. Luckily, there are a few good books out there on this subject. Most notably the beautiful book by David Thompson: Thai Street Food. I have already bought that massive book from amazon.com as well as another wonderful book called Bangkok’s Top 50 Street Food Stalls by Chawadee Nualkhair.
Although I love these two books, they are not exactly the kind of book that I have been hunting for. The former devotes a lot of space to recipes and the latter to restaurant reviews. What I have always wanted is the ultimate guide to Thai street food. I am sure other people feel the same. Most people only eat a rotation of about four or five different dishes. This is mainly because they are nervous about ordering something new or unknown. What has been desperately needed is a guide to buying street food.
Well, the wait is now over. Mark Wiens from eatingthaifood.com has just launched an extensive ebook called “The Eating Thai Food Guide” which you can download now from his website. I had already started writing and photographing my own Thai Street Food book. But, I think that Mark has done such a comprehensive and thorough book on how to order Thai street food that there is probably no longer a need for me to continue. I have been reading through his book the last few days and it has just about everything, if not more, of what I would have put in such a book.
Any good food guide must have pictures. And plenty of them. I am not talking about the studio shot pictures that we usually see in the cook books. I mean food pictures shot on location. The Eating Thai Food Guide is filled with colourful pictures on every page. Mark gives you a number of suggestions of meal combinations that you can order as well as information on individual dishes. He has also done pictorial lists of the most popular Thai street food as well as his own personal favourites. If you are an expat living in Thailand, a tourist visiting the Kingdom, or a foodie that has already fallen in love with Thai food, then I highly recommend that you download the Eating Thai Food Guide today. You won’t regret it.
Thailand is famous for its food. It is one of their best exports. You can now find Thai food in almost every country. It is popular with people who haven’t even visited Thailand yet. And when they do come to Thailand, one of the first things they will most likely want to do is try some of the authentic Thai food. Ask anyone who has ever been to Thailand what their highlight was, they will most likely include Thai Food in their top five. It is certainly one of things that I like most about Thailand.
Thai food is every. Almost every street corner has a collection of food stalls. Many shop houses also sell food on the ground floor. However, for the newcomer, ordering genuine Thai street food may be a bit daunting. Just take a look at the menus on the wall of this food shop. Everything is in Thai. You will also find that many of the food vendors don’t speak much English. Of course, you could just try and point to what you want, but quite often, all that is on show are the ingredients.
This is where the people at the newly formed Bangkok Food Tours come to your rescue. They have tailored made walking tours of Bangkok where they give you an easy introduction to Thai street food. At the moment, they have put together two different tours: “Historic Bang Rak Food Tasting & Culture Tour” and “Chinatown Foodie Walk & Culture Tour”. I joined the Bang Rak tour the other day and had a really great time. It was a new area for me and I will certainly be going back on my own to explore some more.
For this tour, we met our guide, Jan, at the exit for BTS Saphan Taksin. She gave us a fact sheet with information on the five places that we would be sampling food as well as a map of the local area. Handy if you want to come back by yourself to try the food again or something else on the menu. On the fact sheet there were also some useful phrases to help you when meeting food vendors. In the picture above, you can see some of the food that we tried. Each time we were only given a small portion so we never filled up at one place.
During the food tour we stopped at five different places to sample the food. There was enough of a gap between food shops to give us time to digest the food. The walking tour took 3 hours in total and the route was about 1.9 kilometres long. There was about 350-400 meters between each stop. The tour started along Charoen Krung Road and at one point we crossed the Chao Phra River briefly to eat papaya salad on the other side. We also walked up Silom Road into Bangkok’s business district.
One of the things that I liked about this walking tour was that it was more than just Thai food. We also had an opportunity to learn about the culture and history of the area. For example, Jan told us that Charoen Krung Road was the first road in Bangkok. She showed us some old pictures so that we could see what it used to be like. She did the same when we reached Assumption Church. Another stroke of genius was the use of personal ear pieces for each person on the tour. This allowed us to hear our guide even if we lagged behind a bit to take pictures.
If you want an easy introduction to Thai street food then I would highly recommend that you join one of the Bangkok Food Tours. You will not only be introduced to some great dishes, eight in total, you will also learn how to order the food for yourself. The knowledgeable tour guide will help answer any of your questions about how to eat Thai food. Visit their web site at Bangkok Food Tours for more information and to book a tour. If you are still not sure about joining the tour, then check out some of the reviews over at Trip Advisor. I think all of them agree that it was very worthwhile.
(17) Peuak Guan – Tua Guan (เผือกกวน – ถั่วกวน) which is a Taro and Mung Bean Pudding. (18) Fak Thong Kaeng Buad (ฟักทองแกงบวด) which is Pumpkin in sweet coconut milk. This cost 20 baht. (19) Khanom Luk Chub (ลูกชุบ) which is Miniature Fruit Candy. (20) Khao Niew Tud (ข้าวเหนียวตัด) which is Sticky Glutinous Rice with Coconut Cream Topping. This was 18 baht.
(21) Khanom Sod Sai (ขนมสดใส) which is Grated Coconut Pudding. (22) Khanom Thuay (ขนมถ้วย) which is Steamed Pandanus Cake. (23) Khao Tom Mud (ข้าวต้มมัด) which is Steamed Sticky rice in Banana Leaves. (24) Khao Niew Na Pla (ข้าวเหนียวหน้าปลาแห้ง) which is Glutinous Rice with Dried Fish Topping.
(25) Khanom Buang (ขนมเบื้อง) which is Thai Crispy Pancakes. They cost 10 baht each. (26) Foy Thong (ฝอยทอง) which is Golden Egg Yolk Thread. It cost 15 baht. (27) Khanom Keng (ขนมเข่ง) which is Sticky Rice Flour Dessert. (28) Khanom Chan (ขนมชั้น) which is Layered Dessert. It cost 15 baht.
For more Thai Food Pictures, please visit our Thai food blog at www.EnjoyThaiFood.com
Six months have passed since I did the Thai Street Food Challenge. During September 2010, I ate just over 100 different street food dishes. The challenge was to only eat street food for one month, for every meal, with no repeats. Like most people who live in Thailand, I usually stick to half a dozen favourites that I usually repeat. So, it was a real challenge for me to try some new dishes. I think by the end I was starting to get a bit desperate and was eating ox tail and various dishes with animal innards. But, once finished I was really glad as I had discovered some new favourites. I was originally planning on waiting a year before doing it again but due to popular demand it will now be twice yearly.
So, the second part of my Thai Street Food Challenge starts today. I am sure I will be eating some of my favourites again but I will also be looking for some new dishes. Each weekend I will also visit a different floating market around Bangkok looking for something delicious. My rules are simple. I cannot eat in restaurants or places that have menus. The closest to a restaurant that I can eat at is a food shop but there cannot be a front wall or a door! It has to be open to the street. The biggest challenge for me is having to eat something spicy for breakfast. And as the days go by, I will have to go far in the mornings to find something new. I hope it doesn’t rain too often!
You can follow my food challenge live on Twitter at @EnjoyThaiFood. I will also update the Thai Street Food Photo Album on Facebook each evening as well as a summary on my Thai Food Blog.