Eating The Best Local Thai Dishes in the Bang Rak District of Bangkok

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I spent a midday during my Bangkok visit with Bangkok Food Tours walking around Bangrak neighborhood.

Working with them made my time more efficient, I got to visit some great places to eat and avoided duds, and also had the chance to talk with someone who could explain dishes and some of the history, who knows the places and the people well. So it’s hardly necessary — Bangkok is one of those great places in the world for food and most places you go beyond the tourist areas are going to be reasonably good. But I find it heightens the experience.

One of the tough things though is sharing where you went, because the best places don’t have names in English. Or necessarily clearly printed addresses. The best you’ll do is identify the major streets, and recognize the signs in Thai.

Our first visit was to a place that’s been serving duck with a secret recipe for well over 50 years.

Walking down the street, we stopped at Boonsap Thai Desserts — delicious Thai pastries, from a vendor that actually has a website!

I eat a lot of Thai soups, and I even cook thai soup myself. (Here’s my Tom Yam Goong — sour and spicy prawn soup along with my cashew chicken.)

But I’ve never had soup quite like this. It was fantastic, with fish balls and meat balls, add your own condiments.

After soup we walked down to the Chao Phraya river, next to the Mandarin Oriental, to the public boat dock where a ride across was 20 baht (60 cents).

Crossing over, we docked on the other side, and walked straight about 100 yards where we went into the first restaurant on the right hand side.. for very spicy Northeastern Thai food.

I eat spicy food, mind you, but the papaya salad was pushing my limits. The chicken was very good, though, and eating some of that helped to give me a break from the spice.

We headed back across the river to Panlee Bakery where I tried their Green Custard Bun (Sang Ka Ya) which was warm and delicious!

Finally we visited a rather famous spot, Kalpapruek Restaurant.

This is original location of a very good chain. The restaurant has a history as a royal residence, and the chef/owner was royally-trained.

Green curry roti is something I’ve only every tried at Elephant Jumps.

Kalpapruek Restaurant is a place that’s very accessible to foreigners. They speak English, it meets the cleanliness standards that most Westerners expect, and the food is very good (with bright pictures in the menu that will help those unfamiliar with the cuisine). So it’s a place I would recommend to anyone, but especially for first-time visitors or those a little less familiar with local Thai food.


About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community Milepoint.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. We have done the Bangkok Food Tours twice with mixed results: the mid-day Bang Rak District tour was very good while the nighttime Chinatown foodie tour was disappointing and left so much be be desired. The grilled beaks and the Chinese buns were the least interesting of both tours while the Issan Thumburi “restaurant”, the grilled river prawns, and the Lava boiled eggs were the highlight of these tours.

    There is a hole in the wall restaurant that we frequent on almost every visit to Bangkok, its called Chote Chitr. This 7-tables place serves some of the best dishes I have ever had, Thai or otherwise. See more here: http://milepoint.com/forums/threads/bangkok-dining-scene-restaurants-recommendations.3001/

  2. You definable had authentic Thai food. It’s nice not seeing a pic of Pad Thai, Which Thais view as cheep festival food. I like it all though.

  3. “This is original location of a very good chain.” Is this a direct quote from your tour guide or a typo?

  4. I have done the BKK Chinatown night food tour and thought it was pretty good. I was impressed by the selection and enjoyed the experience. I have also done a food tours in Chaing Mai and Seoul. I think they are a great way to experience a new city and try new dishes. I would highly recommend it to anyone traveling who has an adventures stomach.

  5. Interesting that your Isaan food destination served you som tam thai. I question the guides knowledge of Isaan food.

    Kalboz: Chote Chitr has had doors open but with chairs on tables the last few times I’ve been in the area.

  6. Even though our Bangkok Food Tours guide (Khun Kit) is a Bangkokian, he was very familiar with the Issan food. I am sure if you wanted Somtam with the pungent fermented fish (Pla ra) and mud crabs, they would oblige and serve you as they did for my wife at the Issan eatery across the river. I believe they tone it down a notch to accommodate us Westerners, the faint of heart! 😉

    As for Chote Chitr, I guess I have been lucky to have indulged in their cooking on every visit. But, as you very well know, the owner (Khun Tim) is getting up in the age and more frail on every visit, and, hence, I would call and make sure they are open before heading there.

  7. @AdamH, please don’t get me wrong here. the owner/guide (Khun Kit) who did the midday Bang Rak District tour was excellent and not only explained the food but also the culture in historical context in relation to that neighborhood. His tour/guidance is highly recommended. In contrast, the female guide who did the Chinatown night tour was very disorganized and the only bit of culture was pointing out the soi were they filmed the opening sequences of Hangover II. I guess this was just another case of YMMV!

  8. I recognize a lot of these places from your pictures . I would say that you have indeed experienced authentic Thai food .
    Same as you , when I tried Som Tam I said ” Now I have found my limit ! ”
    If you overdo it , a pinch of salt followed by a sip of water helps dampen the fire .

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