Above: Bangkok China Town or Yaowarat.
What to eat at Bangkok’s Chinatown? That’s a common question even to ourselves sometimes. So here it is, a food guide to some of the best dishes to eat in at one of the oldest and most charming residential and commercial areas in Thailand’s capital city.
Yaowarat never sleeps, and it is a paradise for street food lovers. You can come here any time of the day and enjoy all the deliciousness for breakfast, lunch, coffee, dinner, or even supper because shops and stalls here take turns in their times of operations from daybreak to daybreak.
For more food guides on Bangkok, read our 26 Best Dishes to Eat in Bangkok
Best time to be here: Tues-Sun from 18.00 onwards.
Mondays are usually quiet due to the government’s attempt to regulate Bangkok’s street food. Nighttime street food begins from 18.00 onwards.
How to Get There: MRT Hua Lamphong or Wat Mangkon or Sam Yot
1. Tai Heng | ไท้เฮง – An old-schooler on Soi Charoenkrung 14 is known for many things, but the best are their wok-fried and aromatic dishes such as stir-fried sukiyaki, noodles, and so on. Their one-plate meal of chicken rice is also quite delicious. Another favourite of many people here is their Hainanese-style noodle. I would go back again for their Koi See Mee (the egg noodle dish pictured below), also their flat rice noodle with fish (rad na pla) is also very delicious.
2. Urai Braised Goose | อุไรห่านพะโล้ – I wrote a full review of this particular restaurant earlier because they keep quite a peculiar time of operation. They are very popular that you must be there before 11.00 am or otherwise they would run out. And the place is open at 9.45 am. For the full story, read here.
3. Pae Tiang Fish Ball Noodle | แปะเตียงลูกชิ้นปลา – For Chinese clans, fish balls and their varieties are a staple, and they have a particular way to cook the broth and condiments, too. Unlike Thai-style noodles, the Chinese counterparts usually do not contain cilantro (only spring onion is used) and no bean sprouts, either. Pae Tiang is another old-timer with a specialty in fish balls and home-kneaded egg noodles. I prefer a bowl of wide egg noodle (called mee-por) with all sorts of fish balls. For the full story of this place (in Thai), read here.
4. On Lok Yun | ออน ล๊อก หยุ่น – Before all the hipster places that are now sprouting quickly in this old quarter of Yaowarat is this very charming breakfast institution. On Lok Yun serves set breakfast with local sausages, ham and eggs. The best sin would be their pillow-soft all white bread served different ways – toasts ladled with condensed milk and a good amount of white sugar is one. Or opt for steamed bread served with warm gaya.
5. Liew Leng Seng | เลี่ยว เลี่ยง เซ้ง – Another real old-school kitchen with multiple charcoal stoves to cook on, meaning the food is super slow at this place 😀 In fact, this restaurant used to be inside a theatre plaza opposite Queen Saovapha Memorial Institute but was moved here after that space was razed down for new development. Liew Leng Seng’s forte was in their very duriany durian ice cream, but it is also worth waiting for their homemade dumplings (below), crabmeat spring rolls, and noodles. The long waiting time is a problem for us, will try calling and ordering in advance the next time.
6. Ar-Ee Wan Yen | อาอี้หวานเย็น – This place serves a perfect and very affordable bowl of Chinese-style shaved ice dessert with cold noodles and all the trimmings. So delicious. This yellow noodle contains no eggs, hence vegan-friendly as other ingredients (nuts and grains, dumplings, dates, ginkgo, and so on). I also like the ginkgo in light milk pudding (Pae Guay Nom Sod), a little creamy, not too sweet. Aroi.
↓ The video below shows how they make this chilled noodle dessert. ↓
7. Kia Meng Thai Desserts | ขนมหวานเกียเม้ง – This is perhaps my most favourite spot for the whole of Bangkok Chinatown. This hole-in-the-wall dessert place serves their sweet fares on the street with two tiny tables set right on the footpath. It is always hard for me to decide which desserts – from the long array of their big pots – I should eat. But a rule of thumb for me to you is anything with coconut cream topping because their coconut cream topping – with its subtle saltiness – is very delicious. 😀
8. As.Is Cafe – You might walk past this cafe and didn’t know it exists because they are open only on Wed, Fri, Sat and Sun from 10.00 – 20.00. Turns out that amidst all the hipster-hyped cafe scenes that are now taking place all around Bangkok, this one is a lovely, quiet, honest place that we like very much. Their good coffees (each made by the owner) are neither too expensive. Good selections of baked goodies, too. Homestyle, good-tasing, not fancy looking which, for us, doesn’t really matter anyway.
9. Wallflower Cafe – In the time that rustic restoration seems to be a thing of the season, Wallflower Cafe is a multi-story florist-cum-cafe. To drink coffee, you need to walk through the shop, take a winding and little dilapidating staircase up, and meet a well-appointed serious coffee shop with quite a dizzying array of cakes that are quite delish. A beautiful place with lots of photo-ops.
10. Khao Tom Pla Plang Nam | ข้าวต้มปลาแปลงนาม – This is another long-standing boiled rice stall in the area that serves steaming hot and comfort food, Chinese and Thai style. You can order the basic, boiled fish with rice (Bt100, in this below picture), or have mixed seafood, a tom-yum bowl and eat it with a bowl of steamed rice, too.
11. Siang Kee Kao Tom Pla | เซี่ยงกี่ ข้าวต้มปลา – But if you just won lotto and want to splurge a little, take a seat at this ‘Siang Kee’ Kao Tom Pla that serves fancy-type kind of boiled rice with fish, starting at Bt300 per bowl. Choices include oysters, Pomfret, snapper, and grouper. For the taste, it was good, but not sure if it is worth all the hype. For the full review (in Thai), read here.
12. Grilled Squid or ‘Pla Muk Yang’ | ปลาหมึกย่างเยาวราช – This nondescript street stall is piled with fresh squid and roe on skewers and occasional lines of people waiting for their orders. A skewer of roe is Bt70, a whole squid is something like Bt120. Everything is served with Thai-style garlic + chilies sauce (second picture). Very delish.
Above: Squid roe BBQ served with ladles of spicy sauce Thai style with fresh garlic and chilies. I am drooling. 😀
13. Guay Chab Uan Potchana | ก๋วยจั๊บอ้วนโภชนา – Apparently, there are many stalls in the area with similar names (Nai Uan นายอ้วน). Perhaps maybe because the name is quite generic. But this stall is located inside the very dusty and dilapidating but somehow still charming (to my taste) ‘Chinatown Rama’ where during the day, the space is occupied by its daytime vendors and filled with racks of Chinese clothing. Uan Potchana serves very peppery clear-broth Guay Chab or rolled rice noodle with pork and all the trimmings (innards and everything). I usually go for a bowl with only crispy pork and hard-boiled egg, though.
Above: Chef-owner of Uan Potchana Guay Chab in Chinatown Bangkok.
Above: Guay Chab is rolled rice noodle seen in the bowl above. Usually, a bowl will come with all the innards, but I usually only go for the crispy pork belly.
Above: A side of crispy pork belly served with dark sweet soy sauce.
14. Je Hua Kra Por Pla (Fish Maw soup | เจ๊ฮัว กระเพาะปลา – Soi Yaowarat 11 is another big food den inside Yaowarat area. This is the alley where the famous Fai Kiew is located, but on the opposite side of that restaurant are two stalls that we find quite awesome. The first one is Je Hua fish maw here. Fish maw stew soup is thick and gooey from a starchy finish. Dried fish maw is stewed and softened in a brown broth and served with a choice of rice noodle, chicken wings, blood curd and bamboo shoot. Bt50-60.
Above: Fish maw stew soup at Je Hua on Yaowarat 11.
15. Moo Satay Hia Sa | หมูสะเต๊ะเอียซา – This is a small stall right opposite Fai Kiew, also on Yaowarat Soi 11. Pork satay Thai-style is small, thin skewers and served with peanut sauce and vinegar-based pickles called ‘Ar-Jad.’ (Bt6/skewer)
16. Pa Tong Go Savoey | ปาท่องโก๋เสวย – For those who cannot live without these deep-fried delights, this stall will tide you over quite ok. Although not the best in town as it has been claimed by the world’s renown food guide, this Pa Tong Go is not too bad. My problem about this is that instead of being crispy on the outside with chewy interior bearing a hint of yeasty aroma like a good Pa Tong Go would, this one is all soft (the skin soft, too) and pillowy, puffy, – the texture making it not unlike mini bread. For our favourite Pa Tong Go place (in Thanon Mahannop), read here (in Thai).
17. Have a Drink at Ba Hao – The strip of Soi Nana in Chinatown used to be a red-light district. But now it has been turned into a hip-bar area, still with some seedy elements enough to get you excited. A lot of bars here prefer to be ‘hidden’ with exterior facades bare from all signs. You have to know where you are going to get there. At Ba Hao, however, things are more conventional. But their interior and Chinese-style concept are quite impressive. We stopped by for a drink before heading home for the night. It was a good friendly place with a good array of Chinese-inspired cocktails (Bt280++).
Further reading: Walking the Chinatown and Understand Bangkok’s Street Food Scenes.