Destination: Thailand: Bangkok
Bangkok revolves around food. It’s impossible to count the food stalls that line the streets—seemingly all the streets—of this labyrinth of a city. You can smell what’s for dinner (or breakfast or lunch) no matter which street you walk along, as the scent of cooking herbs, fruit, vegetables, meat and fish mingle in the polluted air: overpowering and enticing at the same time. Opinions as to whether visitors should partake of the food-stall culture vary, ranging from “absolutely never” to “only with a Thai” to “If you know the right ones, you’ll have the best food experience of your trip.” (See Local Cuisine: Soi 38 and Chote Chitr.) In truth, you don’t have to be bold enough to order hoi tod (fried oysters with bean sprouts) while standing on a dusty road to feel that you’re part of the action. The food is all around you, and every venue, from the lowliest food stall to the loftiest restaurant, takes pride in how it’s prepared.
Thai cuisine is one of the most complex, delicate and spicy in the world, and the watered-down versions of phad Thai served in many Western capitals rarely do the real thing justice. Every meal is supposed to include the five fundamental tastes—hot, sour, sweet, salty, bitter—which is why you are expected to order of a slew of small dishes to be shared by your group of diners. Cuisine from the southern regions, like the islands of Koh Samui and Phuket, are known to be the most , because of the liberal use of chilies. Northeastern dishes rely more heavily on lime juice and lemongrass. Don’t ask for chopsticks unless you’re ordering a noodle dish; anything else is eaten with a fork and spoon.
In Bangkok’s hotel restaurants, however, most of which are very good, do not be afraid to ask for spicy. When serving Thai food, all the hotels have Western palates in mind, so nothing is ever too hot; and the complexity and delicacy of traditional dishes especially comes out with just a little heat. During a trip, you should not miss trying spicy green-papaya salad, tom yam goong (a sweet-sour fish soup), minced pork or chicken, satay (grilled meat on skewers) and curries.
Search By Keyword
A memorable sidestep to lesser-known cities: Gwailor and Orchha (near...
Few places on earth are as dramatic in appearance as...
New on Indagare
Give the Gift of Indagare The perfect present for travelers: a membership to Indagare. Buy now
Indagare Insider Trips: Cuba, Myanmar and India: We’re planning trips throughout the year. Contact Indagare (212-988-2611) to be added to the wait list.
- Community: Share advice with fellow members asking about your favorite travel discoveries.
- Indagare Insiders: Three-day itineraries for families in London and art lovers in Vienna. Plus, fashion insider Chiara Ferragamo’s picks on what not to miss in Florence, Bonnie Gokson, owner of Hong Kong’s lofty Sevva on Hong Kong, Culinary Insider: Budapest.
- Rant & Rave: Indagare members can share their advice with the community by logging in first, then clicking here: Rants & Raves.
- Give the Gift: Indagare: Give the gift of travel intelligence with a membership to Indagare. For details or to order, call us at 212-988-2611 or click here: Gift Membership.
- Indagare Plus: Remember that hotels marked by an Indagare Plus symbol offer preferential rates and benefits to members.
- Indagare Share Feature: Share articles, postcards and reviews with family and friends on such networking sites as Twitter, Facebook and Delicious. Simply click on the three small dots that symbolize our connect icon, at the end of every article, and follow the link to the networking site of your preference.
- Sample Indagare: With free bi-weekly email blasts on new hot spots and insider tips when you sign up for our mailing list.
- Profile feature: Members share your profiles, comments, favorite articles and IQs. Just click on the Profile tab on the upper right of your screen and look for the Edit My Profile blue tab.
- Indagare means to discover, explore, seek, scout in Latin.