Food Guide: Bangkok's Chinatown
What is the first thing you think of when you hear the word 'Chinatown'? Food, right? That’s lucky for you because Thailand's Chinatown is one of the world’s biggest, and it has a lot to offer. It bustles by day and gets even more colourful by night.
Night and Day ☯ Yin and Yang
Chinatown in Bangkok delivers two kinds of 'vibe' depending on whether it's daytime or night-time. During the day, locals come to Chinatown to buy gold, Chinese medicine, and dine at any one of the many restaurants.
At night, when most gold shops or ‘Hang Thong’ (ห้างทอง) have closed for business, street food vendors take over the streets to welcome both locals and tourists alike.
What we have here for you are some of our ‘must-try’ food suggestions for when you're in Chinatown. Let's just be clear here - the food we are talking about would be more appropriately categorised as Thai-Chinese food. We don't want to say that it's authentic Chinese food because we are, after all, in Thailand and Chinese cuisine here has evolved in its own little ecosphere over the years thanks to the different waves of Chinese immigrants to Thailand.
Serves duck rice soup and pork intestine rice soup. The duck rice soup comes with gelatinised duck blood cubes, along with garlic and sliced ginger.
Or, if you feel like chewing into some tasty duck feet, this place also has you covered.
The rice soup here is cooked in a traditional 'Teochew' style, using the family's own recipe that dates back over 70 years.
The price starts at THB 50, or less than USD $2.
Opening Hours: 11.00-23.00.
The slogan of this restaurant is "Eat Like a King at a Friendly Price"
One highlight that we love about this Chinese style sukiyaki restaurant is that it makes you feel like you've gone back in time. The restaurant is 40 years old and it hasn't changed at all in terms of its decoration, style, or menu. That in itself makes it a fascinating place to put on your list.
Another highlight here is their home-made sauce and broth which is their own Cantonese style recipe. This place doesn't just serve 'hotpot' food. You can also try their a-la-carte and dim-sum menus which are also delicious.
4 minutes from Wat Mangkorn MRT station.
Opening Hours: 11.00-23.00.
Crispy Pork - Si Morakot
This place has been operating here for the past 70 years and is located in 'Soi Sukorn' or 'Pig Alley'. As the name suggests, this shop is well-known for its crispy pork which is cooked over charcoal allowing the skin to stay super crispy, while the meat and fat remain juicy and soft. Apart from crispy pork and rice, Si Morakot also offers special menu items including; Duck Soup in Pickled Lime juice (available daily), Bitter Lemon with Pork Rib Soup (every day except Wednesday and Sunday), and Pork Intestines with Pickled Celery (available only on Wednesdays and Sundays).
Opening Hours: 10.30-18.30.
Savoey Chinese doughnuts (Padonggo Savoey)
This Padonggo stand is not your regular food stall. ‘Padonggo ปาท่องโก๋’ in Thai, or more commonly known outside of Thailand as ‘Youtiao 油条’ in Chinese, are deep fried Chinese style doughnuts, and this particular place has received Michelin Plates two years in a row (2018-2019). The current owner is the 3rd generation to operate the stall which has been running for almost 50 years. The family carried their recipe all the way across China, and then on to Thailand when they immigrated here many years ago.
The reason it is called Savoey is because the original stand, being in the vicinity of palaces in the Bang Lumpoo district, would sometimes see palace staff buying these Chinese doughnuts for Royal family members to eat. In Thai, there is a different set of vocabulary used for and by royalty called 'Rachasap' or 'King's Language'. So, where the standard Thai word for 'eat' is 'taan', or 'kin', the royal or 'Rachasap' version of 'eat' is 'savoey' (note that the 'v' is pronounced like a 'w').
Chinese doughnuts go well with pandan mustard which is also homemade, or if you want, condensed milk does the job too. If you are worried about these being too oily and don't want to take in too much deep fried food, this place also offers healthier choices with less oily 'grilled doughnuts'. You don't need to fret about the oil that's being used because they do change it every day, and the same goes with the dough that is used for the doughnuts.
The shop only makes around 15 kg of doughnuts per day, which is why even though it is said to be open until midnight, these Chinese doughnuts usually run out long before.
Opening Hours: 18.00-24.00.
Siang Ki Fish Rice soup
90 years ago a serving of this rice soup would have cost you about THB 2 (around half a cent), but today it is priced at THB 400 per dish - but it's worth it. Siang Ki offers sea bass, snapper, and oyster rice soup cooked in charcoal just the way it was done 90 years ago.
You will be blown away by the quality of the fish and soup, that doesn't have any kind of fishy smell to it. All seafood ingredients come from the seaside province of Rayong and are delivered to Siang Ki everyday. They also have their own homemade salted soy bean sauce mixed with lemon and garlic to go with the rice soup of your choice.
5 minutes’ walk from Wat Mangkorn MRT Station.
Curry Rice Stand Jek Pui
Let us warn you first that this particular Thai food stand has no tables. There are only chairs and you have to be quick to grab one and make sure that you're just as quick to finish up and give your seat to someone else, because it does get very busy.
It has been in Chinatown for 60 years and until now, shows no sign of slowing down. Here is how you order rice+curry (Kao Keng) like a Thai: Your main starch is rice, obviously, so that is dished out, then you pick your curry or any other kind of food that they have there (selection of fried, boiled, grilled and other dishes) to go with your rice.
Famous menu items here are: Green Curry, Stir Fried Crab, Pork Penang, Sweet Pork, and make sure you get a Stewed Egg as your side.
Opening Hours: 16:00 - 20:00.
Pork Leg 3 AM
OK, we lie ... it says in its name that it’s Pork Leg 3 AM, but this Pork Leg shop actually operates 24 hours a day. 30 years ago when they just started out, the peak hour period for this place was around 3 a.m., after which, all the pork leg had sold out.
The secret of good pork leg is to not make it too soft and mushy, but rather to render it with a good chewy texture. A normal pork leg dish with rice starts at THB 40 (USD $1.30).
What Else Can You Find?
There is a lot more to be discovered in Chinatown, and every little corner carries its own charm and uniqueness. Our suggestion to you is to set aside enough time to be able to really explore and try a little bit of everything there.