Bangkok markets: 5 of Ratchawat's best eats
Crammed into a corner of Bangkok’s quiet, green Dusit district, Ratchawat is not your typical market neighborhood.
At the fresh wet market, stocked with everything you’d need to cook your own Thai feast, the vendors are unusually friendly, almost as if they’re relieved to be removed from the chaos that dominates most Bangkok markets. Initiating a conversation or inquiring about a certain snack might even land a free sample or two.
Nearby Nakhon Chaisi Road, the main street that offers access to the market, has a huge selection of fantastic Thai restaurants smashed in between dusty hardware stores, sparkling dentists, massage parlors and a few shops selling odds and ends.
In the afternoon, giant shade trees protect the entire street from the heat as market dwellers begin to rest. There are a few makeshift coffee stalls standing by to give you an after-lunch jolt as well.Hungry yet? Here are some of the best lunch spots in the Ratchawat Market area.
Guay Teow Tom Yum Khun Muay & Som Wang Salapao: Spicy noodle soup and steamed buns
On the outside, restaurant Guay Teow Tom Yum Khun Muay looks like it should be abandoned and boarded up, not teeming with slurp-happy customers.
A lone glass cabinet above a permanent street cart acts as the official kitchen, jutting out into the sidewalk as eaters congregate in the open air to enjoy a hot bowl of soup. Timeworn pillars and rusty shutters contrast the navy blue tablecloths and green potted plants.
Nearby is Som Wang Salapao, a steamed-bun factory where Chinese style fresh buns are available from a smiling seller.
Guay Teow Tom Yum Khun Muay: 909 Nakhon Chaisi Road. Tel: +66 (0)86 820 6878. Open daily, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Som Wang Salapao: 1444/110 Nakhon Chaisi Road. Tel: +66 (0)2 243 1880.
Rawanstar: Roasted duck
Every lunch hour, the peace in this quiet neighborhood is disturbed by Rawanstar. This restaurant serves a roasted duck so delicious that people crowd around the entrance waiting to give their orders -- always a sign of a delicious restaurant in Bangkok.
In addition to serving an outstanding plate of roasted duck, Rawanstar delivers fabulous wonton dumplings and homemade egg noodles.
955/6 Nakhon Chaisi Road. Tel: +66 (0)2 241 2506. Open daily, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Ma Yodpak Radna: Stir-fried noodles and rice dumplings
The entrance to Ma Yodpak Radna Ratchawat is marked by a classic wooden door, its exterior as antique as its neighbors, but the interior is minimal, decked out with stainless steel tables and a varnished concrete finish.
The restaurant keeps busy frying their specialty of pad see eiu (stir-fried wide rice noodles) and dishing bowls of sen yai radna (wide rice noodles in brown gravy).
Adjacent to Ma Yodpak Radna Ratchawat is an unpretentious tiny sweet dumpling stall dominated by a glass cabinet that looks like it's protruding from the depths of a dangerous alley.
The 73-year-old lady has been making her treats for 51 years now and is happy to say hello as she steams her khao kreab pak mor (sweet rice wrapper dumplings) and rests them on a banana leaf for sale.
Ma Yodpak Radna Ratchawat, 775/1 Nakhon Chaisi Road. Tel: +66 (0)2 241 1860. Open Monday-Friday, 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m, 5 p.m.-12:30a.m., Saturday and Sunday 5 p.m.-12:30 a.m.
Neua Wooah Rai Tiem Taan: Kobe beef noodle soup
Rounding the corner of Rama V Road, to the left about 30 meters away is Neua Wooah Rai Tiem Taan, a noodle stall surrounded by giant shade trees that steams a sensational bowl of simple noodle soup topped with Kobe beef.
Fresh lettuce, a choice of noodles, thick slices of marbled Kobe beef, fried garlic shavings, and a robust beefy broth makes this soup worth the trip to Ratchawat alone.
Neua Wooah Rai Tiem Taan (Kobe Beef Noodles), 500/2 Rama 5 Road. Tel: +66 (0)81 638 0897. Open Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Fresh Market: Thai desserts & skinned frogs
There are two entrances to the Ratchawat Fresh Market from Nakhon Chaisi Road and both are crammed with Thai desserts and deep-frying meats.
Stalls in the market appear to be neatly organized. Until you look up and see the tangled mess of light bulbs and wires that make up the market's electrical system.
Piles of vegetables and fruits, seafood, pre-made curry pastes and sauces, meats of all kinds -- including skinned but still breathing frogs and quails -- are among the offerings for sale.
Ratchawat Market is located on Nakhon Chaisi Road, in between Sawankhalok Road and Rama V Road, in Bangkok's Dusit district.