Firstly, check out the excellent article on Bangkok street food here! Spot on and really captures the oddities and delights of eating on Bangkok city pavements!
For the majority of the food-loving Thai people the grub itself, (that’s grub not grubs which are in an earlier blog!), is the number one criteria in choosing a restaurant. Forget the decor, location, floor show or wall hangings, it’s the food served up that counts. Often the opposite of what we’ve noticed on my last few trips back to the UK where decor, last weekends Observer food section, whatever happens to be the flavour of the month or which new restaurants it’s cool to be seen in, often seem to count far more than what they are actually serving.
We tried the Chiswick outlet of a popular (would-be) French bistro chain but frankly – if they tried the same stuff in Paris they’d have a squad of gendarmes arresting them for crimes against (French) humanity plus a Mongolian fondue restaurant where we actually had to wait 20 minutes to get a table. Seriously – Mongolian fondue!? Why isn’t there a Mongolian fondue spot on every high street? Because it’s pretty damn boring that’s why but who cares – when you go into work on Monday morning you can say, “….you mean you’ve never tried Mongolian fondue – oh my Gawd!”
Ok you’re probably best avoiding one of those spots where Thai yuppies drink Bordeaux on the rocks through straws and eat pizzas topped with strawberry jam, (well it might be tomato I guess but difficult to tell since it’s 50% sugar anyway), or spaghetti with a ketchup sauce but when it comes to Thai food they know what’s good. Who cares about plastic chairs, tin drinking mugs or folding aluminium tables that fold in the middle of the meal and forget the roaches scurrying across your feet and the scabby dog sleeping (or deceased?) under the table when this is the spot that makes the best Tom Yam in town!
We’re fortunately exaggerating somewhat, (the dog was merely snoozing), but some of the tastiest and most authentic food to be found in Thailand is in street cafes, markets or simple restaurants. So please don’t turn your nose up next time you have to eat off plastic plates – that’s the town mayor sitting at the next table!
BTW if you’re interested here is a Mongolian fondue recipe, which isn’t actually bad at all it’s just that most of the customers didn’t really seem to care anyway! Cheers!