Bang Rak @ Bangkok – A Neighbourhood Crawling With Good EatsMarch 4, 2012 | 5,549 views
Bang Rak; a community of foodies and overflowing with hospitality
Following up on the stories of Nang Loeng market and Or Tor Kor market in Bangkok, we decided to venture slightly off-radar to this old neighbourhood of Bang Rak; alighting from Saphan Taksin BTS (skytrain) station; right before crossing Taksin Bridge to the western continent (Khlong San/Bang Lamphu Lang districts) separated by the famous Chao Phraya river.
Now, Bang Rak may not be featured prominently in guide books or TV shows, but there are a few good gems worth dropping by for, and the plus point of having everything within walking distance (under 1km) from the BTS station. Read on to find out how one can be fascinated by the endearing town folks and delicious street foods around the vicinity ….
Song Thaew? The red cabs reminded me of the Chiang Mai days when no modern sedan cars were used there to ferry the passengers around; aside from the vibrant red pickup trucks.
Overheard a fellow passenger telling another at the Suvarnabumi airport; that one must NOT miss the plentiful of fresh tropical fruits when in Bangkok. I totally agree.
A short walk north-bound from Saphan Taksin BTS station will lead you to Robinson’s departmental store. The main road of Thanon Charoen Krung is the one that you should take in order to access the main town area. Other landmarks? The famous Shangri-La Hotel.
Stalls selling everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to cooked foods and snacks, freshly-squeezed tangerine juice and coconut, and even knick-knacks commonly sold in flea market are everywhere in Bangkok. And good thing is; they don’t get banned/summoned/chased away.
Many have this notion that eating by the streets is not hygienic, nor will it be comparable to dining in an air-conditioned environment. True, but you don’t see many locals eating in restaurants ‘specializing’ in street fares when the average (and the BEST) stuff can be found on the … streets, of course.
Always fascinating to see unidentifiable and colourful desserts sold by the peddlers; usually sweet and/or laden with rich coconut milk. Bananas, coconuts and mangoes play a prominently vital role in making up these sweet treats.
In any case should you crave for the savouries and protein, the grilling station is right around the corner. Grilled chicken, skewers of pork and chicken, as well as fried chicken are everywhere on the streets. Uniformed branding?
Our first stop was at Boonsap Thai Desserts (www);a household name in Bangkok with their signature Thai desserts recipes (an astounding array of them) that have been around since World War 2! Now this place is run by the 3rd generation, and transformed to a cafe with air-conditioning and two tables; as well as serving coffee and other beverages so you can hangout and savour their delicious creations.
Out of the more than 15 varieties (did not count, but easily exceeded that number) of desserts in display over the glass counter, we chose three. The signature Mango Sticky Rice topped with crispy bits of mung beans, and slices of incredibly juicy and sweet Thai mangoes. Different varieties of mangoes create different types of taste and texture; and here at Boonsap, they only choose the ones in pale yellow, ripen and sweetest. A small tub of coconut milk (or more like a curd) accompanied this essentially-Thai creation. For 60baht/RM6/USD2, this might be a bit steep in comparison to roadside’s version at about half the price, but you’re paying for the quality. And the glutinous rice was utterly magnificent.
As was evident again in the other types we tried; one topped with a savoury dried shrimps and dessicated coconut with a light touch of spices, and the black glutinous rice variety topped with pieces of wobbly and smooth egg custard. Both versions were excellent, and priced at around 30 baht/RM3 per serving. The other item we sampled was a small plastic container of sago and coconut milk.
Address and location to come at the end of this post.
More Thai desserts on display at a stall right beside Boonsap; a competitor of an old lady trying to jostle for the crowd?
Interesting squares of bread topped with whipped cream and cornflakes, jams, almond flakes or chocolate chips. No name for this, but I figure that this could be a pedestrian version of Mon Nom Sod?
And the rule of the thumb is ….. where there are a LOT of people queuing up, the food’s got to be good! As in the case of this fried banana stall at the corner of Thanon Charoen Krung and Thanon Si Wiang.
Don’t play play …. this stall was featured in a food and travel guide before!
However, be warned that the wait can take from anything above 20 minutes to 45 minutes! We were there lining up with the crowd who were mostly locals, with a few evidently first-timers …..
How did we know? The locals bought easily more than a few packets each, but the tourists snap photos (like yours truly) got all flustered and fascinated only to leave with … one packet, at 20 baht/RM2/USD0.70 each. Hahaha …. I guess the wait took our breath away, as we carted off almost immediately after getting our loot to the next destination.
The banana fritters appeared to be ordinary, studded with lots of sesame seeds and peanuts. Noticeably, aside from the bananas, the guy scooped plentiful of the crunchy crumbs for us.
The bananas they used were not the ripen, sweet variety but instead with a firmer bite. The addictive factor lies in the batter! The generous bits of sesame and peanuts, paired with the ultra-crunchy batter made up for the long wait. Still, a bit tedious if you’re on a tight schedule.
Location to come at the end of this post.
The banana fritters stall is opposite of this red building, and one of the entrance to Shangri-La Hotel (the white signboard).
Another century’s old establishment in Bang Rak; the famous Prachak Pet Yang (roast duck specialist) on the main road of Thanon Charoen Krung. Since 1909!
And where’s the next destination for brunch? Prachak Pet Yang; a legendary eatery famous for their roast duck, and various roasted meats, as well as various Chinese dishes like wanton noodles and dumplings, as well as dim sum.
Although you’d better take note of the exact location or address, as Prachak is numbered 1415, and there are a few more similar eateries opposite of Robinson’s.
The roasted duck is slightly different from what we have here. The skin being slightly crispy but since the ducks will be served with their special sauce (a sweetish, savoury mix of sauces that reminded one of ‘char siew’ sauce with a touch of spices and chillies), the skin may get soggy after a while. The flesh was of a tender texture without the unpleasant gamey taste sometimes associated with ducks. Slightly small portion though. We also tried the Chinese waxed sausages also served with the same sauce, and a bowl of wanton (prawn dumplings) with a generous lump of fresh crab meat.
The meal came to about 300 baht/RM30/USD10, not exorbitant yet slightly above average when compared to street foods and the small portions. Still, judging from the popularity of the place with the locals, I guess this could be one of the most frequented places for Thai-Chinese fares around this vicinity.
Addresses & Locations:
Boonsap Thai Desserts
1478, Thanon Charoen Krung,
Bang Rak, Bangkok.
Opens from 7am until 5pm.
Fried Banana, Sweet Potatoes and Yam/Taro
Corner of Thanon Charoen Krung and Thanon Si Wiang
Bang Rak, Bangkok.
In front of a corner restaurant with address of 1385, Thanon Charoen Krung
Opens from mid morning until afternoon
Prachak Pet Yang – Roasted Duck
1415, Thanon Charoen Krung,
Bang Rak, Bangkok
**Essentially, all of the stalls mentioned are on the same road of Thanon Charoen Krung. So if you just walk northbound from Saphan Taksin BTS station, you’re bound to find these outlets one after another on both sides of the road.
**More food and travel stories from Bang Rak over at CNNGo – Historic Bang Rak