When red and yellow neon signs start appearing overhead, you know you’re approaching Bangkok’s Chinatown – and you know a massive feast awaits.
In this area known to locals as Yaowarat, after the busy road that runs through its heart, Thai-Chinese food has been perfected over the centuries among a network of narrow, food stall-stuffed alleys. This is one of Bangkok’s oldest areas, and Chinese roots run deep here.
Chinese traders landed in Bangkok in the late 18th century, first settling east of the Chao Phraya River before moving south to Yaowarat. By the mid-19th century, Teochew, Hokkien, Cantonese, Hainanese and Hakka immigrants were living among one another here, each group adding its own cultural elements to the Yaowarat melting pot. Today, the food found around Yaowarat often blends regional flavors and techniques with local ingredients, and many stalls have served their specialties for generations.
Want to get a taste of these time-honored traditions? Here are five of our favorite Thai-Chinese dishes to try on your next visit to Yaowarat – and where to find them.
No trip to Chinatown is complete without trying fishballs. These tender, springy treats are a mainstay of Thai-Chinese cuisine. Lim Lao Ngow, a Michelin-recognized shop that has been in business for more than 60 years, serves some of the best fishballs in town. Their bouncy balls are made from a family recipe that combines a mix of fresh fish – no flour added – and are served with fresh-made egg noodles. Arrive early as they often sell out.
In front of building no. 299-301, Song Sawat Rd.; Open daily 4:30pm-8:30pm