We’ve been looking forward to eating our way through Southeast Asia since the we first began planning our trip. The food is fresh, cheap, delicious and everywhere. If you are hungry… well you don’t really have much chance to actually get hungry because you are tripping over sidewalk cafes and street vendors at every turn.
We’re not even sure how to organize all this. Most of it’s street food, there’s noodles everywhere and it’s all incredible. Let’s start with noodles, then.
STIR FRIED NOODLES, RICE and CURRIES
Our first Pad Thai, eaten on a plastic stool on the sidewalk. Buried underneath is shrimp, calamari and baby octopus.
More Pad Thai.
Pad see ew and chicken fried rice for breakfast at our favorite sidewalk cafe next to our hostel in Bangkok.
Green curry chicken with basil.
Mushroom and tofu curry.
Fried basil, mushrooms, chicken.
Probably the spiciest glass noodles and best fried chicken we’ve ever had…
… and some red curry. This particular Bangkok restaurant was in the entryway to a market building and people would ride mopeds through every few minutes.
Various noodle soups. Point to the type of meat and the type of noodles you want and they throw it in a small basket and dip it briefly into a large vat of boiling broth. Then they pull it out, ladle on the broth, top it with cilantro, green onion and fresh herbs, and it’s up to you to doctor it up with lime and chilis.
Tom yum kung - hot and sour seafood soup made with lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, lime juice, fish sauce and chilis.
STUFF YOU DRINK WITH STRAWS
Smoothies and fruit shakes. So cheap you can have them twice a day, but be sure to ask them to skip the sugar.
Lemongrass chili lime drink to cure all your digestive woes.
Khao soi gets its own category because Tony attempted to eat it for every meal. It’s egg noodles and meat (usually pork or chicken) in yellow curry sauce, topped with crispy noodles, pickled greens, green onions, shallots, herbs, lime juice, and as much chili paste as you can handle.
Green tea leaves salad with cabbage, tomato, soy nuts.
Hinlay curry with tofu and potatoes.
Another Hinlay curry.
Even yummier Burmese food (tea leaf salad, Hinlay curry, vegetable soup, steamed cabbage) cooked for us by Kevin’s friend Hong Sar. As we ate, Hong Sar described the events he saw and experienced in Burma as a child before his family escaped to Thailand.
There’s probably a lot more Chinese influence in the food in Thailand than we realize (we’re looking at you, steam buns), but we had an official Chinese food night at Kevin’s house when another Couchsurfer, Carrie, cooked us her favorite dishes. We had stir fried morning glory greens, spicy tofu, and a potato and pork soup.
In Thailand, salads aren’t some leafy green thing. It’s a salad in the folksy casserole sense of the word. A big jumble of lots of delicious ingredients, and can be served hot or cold. The lady above is making some som tam.
Som tam is shredded green (unripe) papaya and carrot with tossed with a paste of dried shrimp, chilis, fish sauce and sugar, and topped with tomatoes, raw green beans and peanuts.
Melt-your-face-off banana blossom salad.
Tofu mushroom salad. The mushrooms here are so savory and meaty, even the most devout carnivore wouldn’t mind the lack of meat.
FOOD CARTS and ROADSIDE STANDS
Chicken wings and other grilled meat on a street cart.
Roti. Somewhere between a crepe and a puffy, crispy pancake, made with ladles of butter, stuffed with banana and drizzled with sweetened condensed milk and Nutella.
Mini pastries stuffed with sweet and savory things like, potato, taro, pineapple and yam.
Fried quail eggs.
Steamed buns filled with BBQ pork, chicken curry, red bean paste, chocolate pudding… dozens of sweet and savory options.
Black Egg. Preserved over several weeks, then deep fried.
Fried dumplings stuffed with chicken and cabbage
Deep fried tofu tarts topped with sweet soy sauce and peanuts
Steamed pork dumplings…
…served in a plastic bag with spicy sweet dipping sauce.
Egg and minced meat grilled in a banana leaf.
Miangkam. As soon as your teeth break through the slightly bitter chaploo leaf wrap, the sticky mixture of sugar, coconut, peanut, ginger, shallots, dried shrimp, chilis and lime inside explodes in your mouth. Whoever invented these is a genius.
We’ll thank this nice lady.
Thick-cut bacon grilled over coals on a skewer…
…served at a roadside stand that uses uncut sheets of product labels as tablecloths.