Gallery: Snapshots from Thailand: Street Food in Bangkok

  • Rice Noodle Rolls

    Steamed rice noodles stuffed with tofu, herbs, and vegetables. They come cut with scissors and doused in a sweet and spicy chili sauce.

    Grilled Sausages

    Stuffed with lemongrass-scented pork and glutinous rice, the sausages come off the hot coals juicy, with a crisp crust and slightly sticky texture.

    Grilled Bananas

    Slightly under-ripe green bananas grilled over coal until blistered and hot. I've seen them done like this in South America too, which gives me a good idea for my next cook-out...

    Som Tum

    The famously spicy green papaya salad. Here it's prepared fresh with a large mortar and pestle where the woman pounds green chilis, peanuts, dried shrimp, tomatoes, and limes, then tosses them all with fish sauce and shredded green papaya.

    Pad Thai

    The national dish of Thailand, it's been around for centuries but gained its popularity in the 1930's during an organized effort to centralize and nationalize Thai cuisine. Here a woman stir-fries rice noodles with seafood, tofu, peanuts, fish sauce, and palm sugar just before adding an egg.

    Finished Pad Thai

    Unlike the sweet, gloppy versions you see in Thai restaurants outside of Thailand, Pad Thai should be fresh, light, and balanced in flavor.

    Grilled River Fish

    Fish stuffed with lemongrass, kaffir lime, and cilantro, slathered with a salty paste, and grilled over open coals.

    Thai Pancakes

    Thin tuiles made with coconut, stuffed with coconut cream and a floss made from steamed egg yolks. The tuiles are rolled up and solidify into crunchy, cannoli-like pastries as they cool.

    Fried Meat

    All manner of fried meat like chicken wings, chicken legs, and entire slabs of pork belly, bought by the pound and eaten as a snack or to augment a home-cooked meal.

    And Curry!

    This stand specializes in curries, and being Bangkok, versions from all regions of Thailand are represented, with everything from fish heads to chicken and tofu.

    Noodle Soups

    While not as popular in Thailand as in some other Southeast Asian countries (like close-by Vietnam), noodle soups are a staple. This one is chicken and soy sauce flavored. On the table are the typical Thai accouterments: fiendishly hot dried chili, white sugar, fish sauce, and a lime-based chili sauce (you'll also find lime wedges). They represent the four basic Thai flavors: hot, sweet, salty, and sour. Bangkok residents like their food much sweeter than those from, say, the Isan region in the North.

    Grilled Meats

    Grilled skewers of meat on a stick with a sweet and savory marinade. This chicken is insanely delicious with crisp, smoky charred bits, dripping with sticky juices. They cost about 25¢ a skewer.

    Seafood Pancakes

    Mussels, oysters, and vegetables in a thin batter that's fried in an extremely well-seasoned cast iron skillet. They come out cracker crisp on one side and creamy/tender on the other.

    Fried Shrimp Paste

    Balls of lemongrass and kaffir-scented shrimp paste are dropped into the fryer in irregularly shaped nuggets and deep-fried until crisp. They're then tossed with a sweet chili glaze and served from a bag with cucumber slices. Perfect for walking and snacking.

    Breakfast of Champions

    Start your day with a bit of heat. Leftover rice from the night before stir fried with Thai sausage and cilantro, served with hard-boiled eggs and sprinkled all over with deceptively spicy Thai bird chilis.

    Fried Baby Crab

    These little suckers are small enough to be eaten whole—shell and all, like a good fresh shrimp. Lightly battered and deep-fried until crisp, they're served with a sweet chili sauce.

    Moo Yang

    My favorite meat-based dish in the world. Marinated pork neck grilled over charcoal and served with a thin, herb-spiked sauce made with fish sauce and lime juice. It's insanely juicy with a crisp, sticky crust and deep pork flavor. So good.

    Yep, they do burgers.

    And they do 'em with style.

    Stir-Fried Morning Glory

    Morning glory shoots stir-fried with oyster sauce and dusted with dried chili. One of the most common vegetable side dishes you'll find at wok-based stands.

    Fried Quail Eggs

    Quail eggs fried in individual compartments in a large cast iron pan. They come served half a dozen to a bag as a snack.


    Thin, crisp crullers made with a copper mold and deep fried in a wok. They taste somewhat like funnel cake and come sprinkled with black sesame seeds and sugar. Notice the lady in the back roasting chestnuts in a wok full of hot rocks?

    Thai-style Omelet

    A vegetable-stuffed omelet made by shallow-frying beaten egg in a well-oiled and hot wok. The egg puffs up on one side and browns and crisps on the other. It's served upside-down over a plate of rice with plenty of herbs, chili, and fish sauce.