When it comes to street food, Thailand knows a thing or two. Throughout the country, vendors line the streets selling juicy chicken, spicy papaya salad, and noodles cooked in every style you could imagine.
And in Bangkok, there is a little gem of an area where people flock to get a unique taste of Thai street food. So where might this be?
Yaowarat has some of the best street food around. It’s a must-visit for any food lover. Now, don’t expect just your traditional Thai specialties here – you are in Chinatown after all.
One of the world’s largest Chinatowns, Yaowarat is one of my favorite neighborhoods to explore in Bangkok. It’s totally chaotic and really just an experience that every visitor needs to see for themselves.
Best of all? The food is fantastic!
This special part of Bangkok is rich in both culture and cuisine. It has a unique personality that changes from early morning to late into the evening.
Daytime is fairly calm with locals running errands, stalls getting set up, and vendors selling fruits and other goods in the markets. When the sun begins to set, however, Yaowarat really comes alive. Vendors flock the streets selling everything from duck to noodles, to juices and herbs. With the lights, crowds, and traffic, it’s sensory overload in the best way possible.
Yaowarat is going through some revitalization as well. Hipster coffee shops, craft cocktail bars, and trendy restaurants are starting to pop up in the neighborhood. These places seem to be drawing in a new crowd that may not have been attracted to the Yaowarat of old. The new establishments are cool and trendy and it’s exciting to see what the younger generation is creating.
So, let’s get down to the important stuff. For your visit to this foodie-mecca, here are the must-try foods of Yaowarat:
Given its popularity on Japanese menus, I’ve always assumed that gyoza was of Japanese origin. After seeing it being sold by numerous vendors in Yaowarat, I discovered that gyoza is in fact originally Chinese. Apparently, it wasn’t until after WWII that Japanese soldiers brought gyoza to Japan after falling in love with it while based in China.
The gyoza sold at this little stand are awesome! Available in two varieties – pork or prawn -they’re fried on the spot when you order. The dumplings were a bit larger and the dough was a bit thicker than I’m accustomed to, adding a nice bite to the crispy fried dough.
Generously filled with juicy meat, cabbage, garlic, and ginger, the pork was my personal favorite. Drizzled with soy sauce, these crunchy yet succulent gyoza are a great snack for wandering through the streets of Yaowarat.
Where To Try It:
Near 440 Yaowarat Road (In front of Deksomboon Healthy Boy)
Peking Duck Springrolls
Peking duck is a traditional dish from Beijing and its name literally translates to Beijing duck. Popular in Chinese communities throughout the world, it’s no surprise that this dish is commonly seen in Yaowarat.
The Peking duck dish that is making this list, however, has a bit of a twist. (Although, I should note, if you haven’t had traditional Peking duck, make sure to try it!)
Normally, Peking duck is served in restaurants and recognizable by the dark, thin, and super crispy skin. The bird is usually hand-carved table-side and served alongside spring onion, cucumber, hoisin sauce, and pancakes. You then make your own rolls, filling your pancakes with all the goodies and skillfully wrapping them up.
In front of the Hotel Royal Bangkok, there’s a little stand that has created a bit of street-side elegance. They sell little boxes of beautiful Peking duck spring rolls for 70 Baht (just over $2 USD).
Each box includes 5 rolls made of delicious duck, sweet hoisin, fresh cucumber, and bright spring onion wrapped in tender pancakes.
These spring rolls are the perfect snack – super affordable and ridiculously delicious.
Where To Try It:
409-421/4 Yaowarat Rd (In front of Hotel Royal Bangkok)
Kuai Chap Uan Photchana
Kway chap is a dish popular in countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand. In Thailand, however, it’s a very different version than the one you’d find in other countries.
Here, it’s a pork and rolled noodle soup with a fragrant peppery broth. To try Thai kuai chap, Kuai Chap Uan Photchana is the place to go.
Only open in the evening, this humble street stall gets packed with locals and tourists alike getting a taste of the signature dish, kuai chap.
Crispy pork belly and pork innards accompany rolled wide rice noodles in a clear broth flavored generously with white pepper. The innards include a varying selection of intestines, kidney, heart, and possibly others.
You can select which meats you’d like in your bowl, but be adventurous and try the innards – they really are tasty. The rice noodles are rolled and miraculously don’t unravel or stick together when cooked, giving them the perfect soft and chewy texture to add to the soup.
Be warned: if you’re not a fan of pepper, this may not be the dish for you. The broth packs a punch, full of white pepper flavor. Condiments like chilis in vinegar, chili powder, sugar, and fish sauce will be on the table to allow you to flavor the broth to your liking.
Ordering is easy at Kuai Chap Uan Photchana as they only sell one dish. You pick the size you’d like (small or large) and wait for your flavor-packed bowl of steaming kuai chap. They may only do one thing, but they’ve mastered it.
They’ll put a little bag of croutons on the table too. If you eat them (and you should) they’ll charge you an extra 10 baht. Sprinkle them into the soup to add a nice crunch.
Where To Try It:
408 Yaowarat Road (In front of China Town Rama Cinema)
Nai Ek Rolled Noodles
Nai Ek Rolled Noodles has been dishing out bowls of kway chap since 1989. It’s an easy spot to find since there are always people lining up to get a seat.
Although the kway chap (pig organ and rolled noodle soup) is their signature dish, they offer a few other popular dishes as well.
You can’t get to the level of Nai Ek Rolled Noodles popularity without being talented in the kitchen. In my opinion, it’s what they do with meat that is worth the attention.
The crispy pork is the perfect blend of belly fat, meat, and super crispy skin. This pork is one of the meats that goes into the soup, but you can also get it a la carte or on a bed of rice with some greens – the latter being my personal favorite.
Another stand out meat at Nai Ek Rolled Noodles is the Chinese sausage. It’s sweet and slightly smokey with a nice chewy texture. They top the meat plates with a light brown gravy, adding a beautiful flavor to round out the dishes.
You really can’t go wrong here. It’s worth the wait and it’s open both day and night, which many places around here aren’t. Just do yourself a favor and try the crispy pork and Chinese sausage!
Where To Try It:
442 Yaowarat Road
Khao Muu Daeng Si Morakot
Khao Muu Daeng or Khao Moo Daeng is a popular Thai-Chinese dish featuring pork and rice covered in a brown gravy.
As with most popular dishes, you’ll find many variations. Variations most noticeable by differing qualities of meat and levels of sweetness to the sauce.
To try one of the best versions you can get, head to Si Morakot.
Si Morakot has been serving khao muu daeng since 1977. A popular local spot, they’ve perfected the recipe that draws crowds daily.
Their version features a trifecta of pork – crispy pork belly, tender roasted pork, and sweet-smokey Chinese sausage. The meat sits on a bed of fluffy rice and is covered with a ladle full of rich gravy, adding just the right amount of sweetness and tang. It’s served with fresh cucumbers and a side of chilis to add freshness and your preferred amount of spice as well.
You’ll also have the option to add a soft-boiled, marinated egg to your khao muu daeng if you feel so inclined.
The servers at Si Morakot don’t speak much English, but they’re friendly so don’t be intimidated. The menu is limited and khao muu daeng is their specialty, so they’ll assume that’s what you’re coming for.
Where To Try It:
80-82 Soi Sukorn 1
Duck Noodle Soup
Some of my favorite soups in the world come from Thailand. It’s just something about the mix of flavors, tender noodles, and juicy meat that create bowls of goodness that are really hard to beat.
One amazing example of an incredible soup in Thailand is the duck noodle soup at this little stall in front of the Exchange building on Yaowarat Road (next to Nai Ek Rolled Noodles). I don’t even know the name of the place, but it’s so good that it still deserves to be mentioned.
Offering both dry and soup options, each bowl comes with either egg noodles lightly tossed in a sweet soy sauce (dry) or noodles swimming in a bowl of clean and delicate broth (soup).
You’ll also get to select which meats you’d like on top. If deciding between roast duck, bbq pork, and shrimp dumplings seems too difficult a task, no need to worry – you can choose all 3.
As with most Thai dishes, you’re encouraged to season your bowl of noodles as you like. Chili sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, and chilis in vinegar will be on the table to take your soup to the next level.
The noodle soup is fairly simple, but it’s done really well. Smooth broth, chewy egg noodles, and tender meat and dumplings create a winning combo at this street stall.
Where To Try It:
442 Yaowarat Road (In front of the Exchange building)
Kua Kai Suan Mali
Kuay teow kua gai is yet another Thai noodle dish that is totally addictive and delicious. Literally translating to noodles (kuay teow) fry (kua) chicken (gai) or fried chicken noodles, it’s the method in which it’s cooked that makes this dish stand out.
To make kuay teow kua gai, wide rice noodles are wok-fried in oil with chicken. At Kua Kai Suan Mali, each dish is prepared over a burning hot charcoal stove that’s been made from an old, metal bin.
The intense heat creates a beautiful crust on the noodles and chicken, resulting in something similar to a pancake. A fresh egg is cracked on top, then sprinkled with green onions and served in a bowl atop a few leaves of lettuce.
To eat, you break the runny yolk and let the pancake soak up some of the egg before ripping apart pieces of the pancake.
The resulting textures from the high-heat cooking are seriously impressive. It’s both crispy and fluffy – the chicken is juicy, and the noodles are tender.
Chili sauce, soy sauce, and chilis in vinegar are set on the table as well so you can customize the seasoning and spice to your liking.
If they haven’t yet sold out when you arrive, order a side of the crispy chicken skin. It’s the perfect salty, crunchy snack to accompany your noodles. They’re super popular though, so they often run out.
While technically just outside of Yaowarat (about a 10 min walk), Kua Kai Suan Mali still made the list. It’s that good! This area has a few vendors making this delicious dish, but Kua Kai Suan Mali was the favorite.
Ann Guay Tiew Kua Gai around the corner gets a notable mention, however, especially because they have indoor seating with AC.
Where To Try It:
261/1 ซ.เทวีวรญาติ, ถ.หลวง, แขวงป้อมปราบ เขตป้อมปราบศัตรูพ่าย กรุงเทพฯ, 10100 Khwaeng Wat Thepsirin, Khet Pom Prap Sattru Phai, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10100, Thailand
Pa Tong Go Savoey
This little street stall sells deep-fried bliss in the form of a dessert called patong. No seriously, it’s love at first bite with these Chinese doughnuts.
Dough is first rolled out and cut into small pieces. It’s then fried up to a golden brown in an oil-filled wok. The pieces of dough puff up when fried, creating a crispy outside, but super airy and light inside.
The resulting patong are not overly sweet, with qualities similar to a beignet without the powdered sugar.
Pa Tong Go Savoey sells patong by the bagful in two sizes. The small comes with four pieces and the large comes with eight.
To accompany the doughnuts, you’ll also get a dipping sauce. You’ll have the option between a condensed milk sauce or a coconut pandan sauce.
If you’re not familiar with pandan, it’s a popular ingredient in Asia known for its fragrance and pale green color it adds to foods. It’s known to be a flavor enhancer and is often compared to the Western use of vanilla.
Both sauces are worth trying as they are delicious and pair fantastically with the patong.
Pa Tong Go Savoey is only open in the evenings and can get quite busy. This shouldn’t be too surprising though because a warm bag of freshly-made patong is the perfect dessert or snack. Another must-do when in Yaowarat!
Where To Try It:
489 Song Sawat Intersection
Yaowarat Toasted Buns
These toasted buns are one of those things that you know you shouldn’t like, but you just can’t help yourself. And then not only do you like them, you just LOVE them!
They’re simple and delicious, but getting them is absolutely chaotic. It’s hard to miss this place because of the hoards of people fighting their way to the front. By going through the small battle of placing an order, collecting it, and then paying, you’re rewarded with the sinfully delicious treat of the toasted bun.
So what the heck are toasted buns? They’re white bread rolls that are toasted over a charcoal grill and then stuffed with a filling of your choice.
Weird? Yeah, kind of.
Worth trying? ABSOLUTELY!
The end result is a warm, buttery roll oozing with sweet sauce. Filling options include jam, marmalade, egg custard, milk, chocolate, and sugar.
Personally, I found some of the fillings to be a bit too sweet, but I LOVED the milk. Other good options are the egg custard and strawberry jam. But if you’re a chocolate lover, definitely try the chocolate.
Truthfully, I’d usually end up ordering one milk and one strawberry jam and mixing the fillings together to make my own creation. If you’re not averse to messes, I highly recommend this combo! 🙂
To place an order, you’ll fill out a piece of paper with your options. You pick your fillings and mark if you prefer the bun crispy or soft (crispy won’t actually be crispy, but warm and toasted).
Once you hand over your sheet, you wait till your number is called. For us non-Thai speakers, this part can be a bit tricky as they call the numbers in Thai.
Either learn Thai or hope a fellow customer will help you out (don’t worry they’ll help you). Everyone kind of rushes the cart so it really can be quite hectic. There is also an older man with a loudspeaker that shouts out the numbers which just adds to the craziness. Embrace the chaos and enjoy your toasted buns!
Where To Try It:
452 Yaowarat Road (In front of Government Savings Bank)
>> Have you been to Yaowarat? What are some of your favorite things to eat there? Leave a comment and let us know below!