Travel blog of an Indian family as they journey the world.

Our South East Asia Food Trail

May 7, 2014  //   by Lily   //   comments(0)  //  Food

Krabi Night market, walking street

Krabi Walking Street

Taste is so subjective and personal that really it is difficult to list a must try list of foods. Not surprisingly, context also plays a significant role in how food tastes. Therefore the foods that we loved over our 3 months travel across Thailand, Laos and Vietnam is our list and is only a guide to encourage you to try.

Same same but different is how I would describe the food in these three countries. It is the difference that we enjoyed and appreciated and hope to cover in the three posts for each country.

In Thailand, we specifically look for night food markets because that’s where locals tend to eat and where locals eat, you are bound to find good food at cheaper rates. Therefore wherever we stayed, we hunt down the night market in the locality. And since there is a variety of food on offer, we all get to pick our own choice. Raj would invariably be the meat expert and ever ready to try different meat grills while I would go for the unhealthy fried stuff and for our son, we would pick the healthier stuff such as quail eggs, which by the way is amazing and is a must try.

The best night markets that we experienced were the weekend night markets in Krabi and Trang, the daily night markets near Chao Fah Pier on the banks of Krabi river and the ones in Bangkok. Food night market seems to be a speciality in these countries because everywhere we went, we found one nearby. Even a small neighbourhood one threw up little gems.

In Krabi, the weekend night market starts on a Friday night around 5 pm in town centre. This place is a regular road that transforms into a walking street on weekend evenings. Every night, we would land up there at 6 pm and go through the maze of tiny lanes between the food stalls, eating with our eyes and nose first before deciding to plunge in and gorge like we have been starving for days. Yup, food is a deadly sin. The atmosphere is what can I say, original pure gluttony in a stifling smouldering humid heat with no place to sit. But do not miss it…it’s worth every drop of sweat! There are other stalls as well selling clothes, handicrafts etc. and I am sure you will find good bargains but us, we didn’t even bother to casually look around. We are food sinners!

We stayed 10 nights in Krabi because we love the place…it’s a beautiful town with little traffic and close (easy day trips on a bike) to the famous beaches of Ao Nang and Rai Leh. Making our base in Krabi was our best decision. We stayed at a hotel next to Thara park & Krabi river which was great for all three of us. Raiyaan loved the childrens’ park; Raj loved the exercise machines while I Ioved the long walks. At the town end of Thara Park near the Chao Fah Pier, a food market pops up every evening on the river bank. In January when we were there, the weather was great with cool breeze coming from the river and the food did not disappoint. We went there almost every night and sampled whatever was on offer with the usual hits and misses. But then this is the beauty of any night market…there is always a variety. We loved the juicy chicken barbecue, so different from our orange tandoori chicken. We had our best banana roti sold by a man with his daughters and our best Thai coconut ice-cream again sold by a man, rather stern, with his young and pretty daughter and his old mother.

In Trang, the weekend night market was a pleasant surprise. The market extends from right in front of the train station down a one kilometre stretch. While the market at first glance looks like a foodie’s ultimate dream, there are stalls selling a variety of wares.

quail eggs thai food

Scrumptious quail eggs

Like us, maybe you will also find a bunch of familiar foods at the Trang night market (which Raj is covering on a separate post). But the one thing which stood out for me was the sea food topped miniature quail eggs sold by two sisters. If you ever find yourself in Trang on a weekend, catch the quail eggs by the two sisters…they sell out rather quickly.

Bangkok is studded with night markets at almost every corner, one of the biggish and the very touristy one being Khao San road. But wherever you stay, walk around a bit in the evening and you will come across a bustling night market with a variety of food on offer. Do take a chance…you will invariably find a gem.

With our pre-occupation of night markets, we never had much opportunity to try out many restaurants. The few that we decided to try, we relied on ratings of popular sites like Trip Advisor and food & travel blogs.

pomelo salad, thai street food

Nok style pomelo salad

Two restaurants stand out in Thailand. The first one is Nok Style at Koh Lanta. The pomelo salad blew our mind and our palate. Pomelo is called Nobab in Manipur and the Assamese call it Robab Tenga. We Meiteis eat pomelo as a fruit usually after lunch with a bit of salt and chilly powder or as a tangy salad, the flesh bruised with roasted gram flour and thoiding (a kind of brown sesame seed) along with salt, sugar and chilly powder. Pomelo salad is a popular Thai and Vietnamese salad. But to us, Nok got the right balance of sweet, salt, sour and juicy flesh popping in our mouths. Highly recommend Nok Style for this salad.

yam yot mui, thai food

Delectable Thai salad Yam Yot Mui

The other restaurant which made us go back the second time and given a chance would have gone the third time is Nong Joke in Krabi. Locals seem to love the place. All the dishes we ordered were perfect but again the one dish that stood out for me was yam yot mui….a fresh salad of young tender greens (unfortunately, don’t know what leaves those were) with a slightly tart and tangy dressing liberally topped with fried cashews just made my palate sing with each mouthful.

So, even though, we never tried a bunch of restaurants, we lucked out on the two that we tried with food that would gladly make us go back to these places.

Sampling night markets has been a fascinating experience for us and trying unfamiliar foods a rewarding one. Hope you will also take your chances.

Krabi weekend night market – Krabi town centre
Krabi daily night market – Chao Fah Pier, Khong Kha Road, Krabi
Trang weekend night market – Trang train station
Nok Style Restaurant -132/1 Moo 6,Ban Klongnin,Koh Lanta Yai, Ko Lanta 81150, Thailand
Nong Joke – 50/3 Moo 7 | Sai Thai, Krabi Town, Thailand

Tags: Krabi, Night Market, Thailand, Trang,

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