His Majesty the King of Thailand, Bhumibol Adulyadej, turned 88 this past Saturday and the entire country was out to celebrate. His Majesty’s birthday is also Father’s Day, making it a celebration for the entire family. Together with my food writer friend Chow (follow her blog Bangkok Glutton), we took some new friends, recent arrivals to the city, out for their first street food crawl.
Our main stop was Yen Ta Fo Rot Sadet, located on Mahachai Road in the old part of the city, also known at Rattanakosin Island. This stall specializes in yen ta fo, a type of fish noodle soup made with a broth flavored with red fermented bean curd. They also sell a variety of other noodle dishes.
Our guests on the two sides, along with Chow and my husband Tawn. For first-timers, they were taking it all in stride and were not at all picky are delicate about the environment, cleanliness, plastic stools, etc. This is a good sign for their future as street food aficionados!
The yen ta fo itself has this color that is a bit unsettling: bright pink, which comes from the fermented bean curd. The whitish items are a variety of fish cake and fish balls. The greens add a nice contrast. Their broth is nicely balanced: sweet and sour, spicy and salty all in the correct amounts.
From there, we walked up the street to Thip Sa Mai, which is probably the most famous Thai street food vendor. Famous for their pad thai served wrapped in a thin omelet, the lengthy queue outside their shop has reached ridiculous lengths.
We enjoyed a look at their scalding hot woks, from which another serving is turned out every fifteen seconds. (Click here to see a video of it!)
We then walked down to Ratchadamnoen Avenue, or the “royal path,” which is modeled on Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris. It was festively decorated with beautiful lights and crowded with families strolling along it. The streets were packed as people cruised to view the decorations celebrating His Majesty’s birthday.
There were numerous vendors selling snacks and treats of all sorts including this gentleman, who was selling khanom tang taek, or bankruptcy treats as “tang taek” means “broken bucket,” a euphemism for bankruptcy. This is a rare dish to see these days, a thick pancake filled with freshly-scraped coconut meat and sugar with black sesame seeds in it.
The end result is crispy and chewy at the same time, with savory coconut meat inside. This vendor also had kernels of sweet corn added, for additional flavor. It was a really interesting dessert. (A bit more about it and a video can be found here.)
Lovely view of Loha Prasat, or the metal castle, one of only three ever built in this style anywhere in the world and, if I understand correctly, the only one still extant.
We walked down to the Democracy Monument to another famous shop, this one for desserts. There is a variety of sweet and savory toppings to be added to your dessert, which is then covered with shaved ice, syrup, and coconut milk.
The dessert’s heritage is very much Chinese, something very similar to what you will find in many Asian countries.
And that concluded our street food adventure and a fantastic celebration of Father’s Day and the birthday of His Majesty the King. A happy occasion all around!