Written By: Rose Antonette Espino
It is common knowledge to all travellers backpacking around Southeast Asia that all roads lead to Khao San. This small block located at the northern part of Rattanakosin district is perhaps the most popular and populous street in all of Bangkok. For newbie backpackers, Khao San is your jump-off point to the rest of Southeast Asia. It is your one stop shop for tours, visa and tickets to Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Malaysia. The scene in Khao San is unlike anywhere else in the world. At any given time, people from all over the globe are coming and going at an equal rate. The entire stretch of Khao San Road is virtually an airport with everyone stuck on a long layover journey. It is for this very reason that Alex Garland—author of the bestselling novel ‘The Beach’–nicknamed Khao San “The backpacker’s purgatory”.
Despite of it all, there is assurance that beyond all the chaos and novelty surrounding Khao San, the numerous food stalls remain to be truly authentic Thai. It is a good place to get acquainted with the gastronomic wonder of Thai cuisine.
- Pad Thai
There can be no other food more synonymous to Bangkok than its quintessential dish, the Pad Thai. Much like the melting pot of cultures in Bangkok, the Pad Thai is a fusion of different flavours and textures that blends together beautifully. The main ingredients are rather simple; it consists of noodles bean sprouts, onion and egg. What make this dish come alive, are the four accompanying condiments that you get to add after. You can spruce it up with a dash of sugar, a hint of fish sauce, a pinch chilli powder or a spoonful of ground peanuts. The combination and proportion is entirely up to you.
- Thai Mango on Sticky Rice
The Thai mango on sticky rice is the ultimate comfort food. It is the kind of dish you reward yourself after a day of walking. The amount of sweetness and delightfulness in one mouthful is enough to lift your spirits for days. Everybody knows that the exotic mango fruit is already salivating on its own, but combining it with the coconut milk and sticky rice is downright sinfully delicious. It is not surprising that this classic Thai dessert is on top of everybody’s list.
- Kai Med Ma Muang (Chicken With Cashew Nuts)
The Chicken with Cashew Nuts served with steamed white rice could be the introductory Thai meal for your western palates. It is quite similar to the Chinese Kung Pao Chicken but instead of the peanut the cashew nut is used. The chicken is stir-fried along with the roasted cashews, vegetables, onion, chilli and sweet soy sauce. It has a good balance of flavours that is not overwhelming and completely foreign. It is a simple savoury dish that is a little tame yet still distinctively Thai.
- Khao Pad (Fried Rice)
This filling rice dish will jumpstart your love affair with rice. Just like the Pad Thai, there is no absolute correct way to cook Khao Pad. The only rule to follow is; you eat it so you dress it. The choice of meat, vegetable and spices is yours to decide. The secret of this unpretentious dish is its versatility. It is one dish that every one of all ages and nationalities can truly appreciate.
Satay is universally loved in all of Southeast Asia. Basically a barbecue, Satay is grilled meat and vegetables skewers. Although cooked the same way, the taste is totally different than that of its western counterpart. The distinct Asian flavour of the peanut sauce in Satay is a combination of sweet, salty, spicy and nutty. And Instead of merely brushing the sauce on the meat, Satays are served with peanut sauce on the side for dipping.
- Thai Iced Tea/Coffee
Walking around the city in the hot humid air is bound to force every ounce of sweat and energy from your body. Lucky for you, these ice cold beverages are both cheap and yummy. Skip your fancy lattes and frappes and give the humble Thai Iced Tea a try. It will give you the same energy boost and at the same time keep your wallet healthy. You should binge on it as often as you can because it is one of the few things you would wish you can get as cheaply and easily at home.
- Coconut Iced Cream
Street foods in Khao San are foremost cheap and convenient but it can also be indulgent–the Coconut Ice Cream is both. This creamy piece of heaven is the perfect way to cap off your Khao San food adventure. The coconut ice cream’s exotic taste and texture will remind you that even if you are in the midst of the hustle and bustle of Bangkok, the tropical islands is still within reach.