Exploring century-old street food stalls
Tek Heng (Mee Krob Jeen Lee)
Tek Heng or Mee Krob Jeen Lee has been serving customers since the reign of King Rama V and has been run by the same Thai-Taechiew family since. This 130-year-old restaurant is known especially for its delicious, sweet and sour crispy noodles.
From a floating restaurant on the Bangkok Yai canal, today stands sky blue multi-storied shophouses located in Talad Phlu market next to the Bangkok Yai canal pier.
Tek Heng is minimally decorated with tiled floor, simple tables and chairs. The majority of the walls and posts are mirror-covered while on one wall boasts multiple newspaper clippings, awards and images guaranteeing their lineage and quality.
The signatures include the crispy noodles with and/or without soup. Don’t underestimate the commonplace of the menu, however. The crispy noodles here is crisper and much lighter in texture and taste than most. The dish is served with marinated garlic, palm sugar and soy sauce garnished with shrimp, crab meat, bean sprouts and parsley.
The restaurant is also known to serve other quintessential dishes as well as the signature crispy noodles, including Hae Cho—minced pork and/or crab meat wrapped in beancurd sheets deep-fried and served with sweet and sticky plum sauce.
Thoet Thai Soi 18 Rd.
Tel: 02 466 9170
Open daily: 10am-2pm, 4:30pm-9:30pm
Daeng Ra Cha Hoi Tod
Began as a small street food stall on Song Wat Road for over 80 years before moving the location to Trok Rong Mhoo Road (Soi Su Korn), which they have been for the past 30 years. Daeng Ra Cha Hoi Tod (fried mussels pancake) is currently operated by the fourth generation of the family.
Literally a hole-in-the-wall restaurant located at the corner of Soi Su Korn 1 before Wat Traimitr, which is easy enough to find but, alas, there’s no parking space here as it is a very small soi.
The signature menu is the restaurant’s namesake which is ‘Hoi Tod’ or ‘Aor Suan’—mussels and/or an oyster omelette (B50). Generally, there are two types; the crispy and pancake-soft kind which solely depends on what kind of starch is used and how the dish is cooked. The crispy type seems to be more favourable for most people.
An important aspect of this restaurant is in sourcing quality ingredients. The oysters and mussels are delivered fresh on a daily basis. The omelette is served with a side of heated bean sprouts (raw) with chopped spring onions and chilli sauce.
Another popular dish on offer is Thai spring rolls or ‘Por Pia Sod’ (B25-35)—cucumber, heated bean sprouts, Chinese sausage or ‘Goon Chiang,’ Chinese rillettes, egg ribbons and marinated tofu usually served with sweet brown sauce sprinkled with crab meat on top. This menu is accompanied by mustard, pickled, sliced chillies and green onions.
Soi Su Korn 1 Rd. (Trok Rong Mhoo)
Tel: 086 883 8505, 081 409 3906, 087 815 0855
Open daily: 9am-6pm
Prajak Ped Yang
Prachak Roast Duck has been open for over 100 years since 1909 by Chinese ancestors. Passed on over four generations, the eatery is best known for roasted duck, crispy pork and roasted pork. They are usually ordered on top of rice or egg noodles with the signature sweet brown gravy that has never changed its taste.
Always busy, the shophouse displays its hanging roasted meat out front as well as a frozen roasted duck in vacuum package for sale. One of the tiles by the entrance is black and cites the date of establishment. Inside, dining tables and plastic stools are situated on the first and second floor. The old wooden slippery stairs remain.
Other popular orders are stuffed pork hock, Chepo rice or noodles consisting of Chinese sausage, roasted duck, stuffed pork hock, roasted pork and crispy pork, shrimp and duck wonton, sea bass in red sauce, various duck organs, stewed duck, and dim sum. The fine egg noodles are cooked al dente.
The current location is in Talat Noi, Bangrak.
1415 Charoen Krung Rd.
Tel: 02 234 3755, 02 235 6324
Open daily: 8am-8:30pm
Kan Kee Golden Gourd
Opened since 1901, the catchline of Kan Kee Nam Tao Thong is using the principle of yin and yang to defeat canker sores. The full name of this brand was Nam Tao Thong Sung How Low Liang Tae, known for selling the sweet and bitter herbal drink to heal mouth ulcers and stimulate the appetite. In 1956, the shop began producing bitter drink in the golden gourd which was originally prepared and drunk fresh by glass. Then the recipe was adjusted to become herbal medicine in the filter bag, registered as traditional medicine and sold as an alternative option for consumers. In 1974, it was turned into tablet and powder, and the new sweet herbal drink was created for those who disprefer bitterness.
Two large golden gourds stand in the centre of the tiny space, one containing the bitter herbal drink and another sweet. They are believed to improve health and balance the yin and yang. Customers often buy drinks in glass and finish them in front of the shop. They can either be made hot or iced. Takeaway bottles are also available.
670 670 Charoen Krung Rd.
Tel: 02 623 0718
Open daily: 8am-10pm
Lieo Lieng Seng
This used to be a small and unassuming ice cream shop occupying a shophouse by Ratchawong Pier. It was established in the reign of King Rama V when Prince Chitcharoen (Prince Narisara Nuwattiwong) gave the capital fund to a young Chinese immigrant named Kwangsoon Sae Lieo. Moreover, Mr Phao Siyanon, the Police General at the time also sold the imported cigarette brand 555 at the shop. The ice cream shop became known as Ratchawongse Ice Cream 555. It is also the first manufacturer of cup ice cream in Siam which was established at the same time as the first ice factory in Thailand.
Later, the shop was moved to Rama IV Road where the second generation, Mr Seng-jiang Sae Lieo, took over the business after his father. He further developed the ice cream recipe to be more creamy and smooth and added more flavours. He also added a number of traditional Taechiew dishes as made before the World War to serve the shop’s customers as well. However, in 2014, Mr Seng-jiang passed away suddenly and Mr Kritsakork Diewprachayarak, the third generation took over the business.
With the knowledge and experience passed through the generations, this allows Lieo Lieng Seng to hold on to its uniqueness aside from focusing on cooking with coal stoves and making healthy food which includes dim sum, Chinese raw fish (Hue Sae) served with sweet and spicy sauce, Chinese steamed rice noodle roll with crab meat, roasted goose legs with noodles, baked rice with crab meat in clay pot and more.
Today, Lieo Lieng Seng aka Ratchawongse Ice Cream 555 is located near Wat Hua Lamphong, opposite Chao Por Heng Jia Shrine (Tai Sia Huk Chou Shrine or Monkey God Shrine) near Chinatown.
113 opposite of Chao Por Heng Jia Shrine (Tai Sia Huk Chou Shrine) by the junction
Tel: 080 555 1454
Open daily: 10:15am-10:30pm
Yim Yim Restaurant
Yim Yim is one of the pioneering restaurants in Yaowarat. For over 100 years, this always crowded restaurant guarantees delicious food since each dish was priced only at B1 up until B200-400 in present time. Its current owner is more than 80 years old whose father was the founder. Now his grandchildren help run the business, namely the third generation. Most customers are returning and in the age of senior.
Located on the second floor of the building, electric stairlifts are provided on the steep stairway.
The most talked-about menu is the cold goat skin wrapped ham. Recommended menus include Chinese sashimi, fried shrimp ball, fish maw soup, fish head hot pot, steamed fish in plum soup, sauteed noodles with chicken or mushroom and shrimp, and last but not least, fried oysters in egg patty.
2F Tang Jai Yu Restaurant, 89 Soi Yaowapanich, Yaowarat Rd.
Tel: 02 224 2205, 02 224 2203
Open daily: 11am-2pm, 5pm-10pm
Tia Yong Lee coffee
This coffeehouse is more than a century old and built farther away from the city inside Khlong 12 marketplace. Tia Yong Lee specialises in house roasted coffee beans by old school method. Road transport now replaced water transportation, but the canal view stays. Khlong 12 market flourished when people travelled by boat. As commercial buildings and the wet market appeared outside, they started to move away leaving the area quiet through time.
Both the initial exterior and interior design of the cafe are preserved, with most of the structures made of wood. Round marble tables and stools are similar to the ones from typical retro ‘coffee meeting’ in early mornings among the seniors of Chinatown. Locals call this place, Kim Chuan.
Drinks are served in a glass, a vintage style bag or a jug, for only B10, B15 and B20. Levels of sweetness can be customised. The only food menu that they have is soft and hard-boiled eggs, two for B15. Chinese tea is complimentary. Unique menus are Nor Kao Yen or dirty coffee, mixed with tea, and Jam Ba or sparkling coffee with soda.
Lam Sai, Lam Luk Ka, Pathum Thani
Tel: 088 001 7988
Open daily: 6am-6:30pm
Ju Jow Chinese Stewed Duck
Located in Ladprao, Ju Jow has prolonged the legendary duck and goose stewing recipe for over three generations. The secret is using the same stock since the beginning which adds more flavours from duck after duck and one goose after another.
The sweet and savoury stock is original Chinese Teochiew style, using Nguan Soon spice only available in Chinatown. The seasoning is renewed weekly for consistent freshness, concentration and aroma.
Apart from the stewed duck, a few more signature menus include stewed goose and goose served with extra garnish. Other recommended dishes are stewed duck served with Chinese kale, duck served with crispy rice vermicelli, stewed intestine, savoury boneless Thai carp broth, extra-ingredient Thai omelette, chicken with creamy lemon sauce, pork hock served with Chinese steamed bun, red sauce abalone, shark fin, liquor marinated chicken, pickled lime duck wings, XO sauce sauteed scallops, Japanese kurobuta pork sauteed with black pepper, crispy salmon krapao, sablefish steamed in soy sauce, curry sauteed crabmeat and moon spring rolls. Desserts feature Thai rice balls in ginger tea, boiled gingko in milk, and wine palm’s seed and coconut in fresh milk.
The stewed duck is sold whole and in three different sizes of plate and prices.
75 Satriwithaya Soi 10 Rd. Yaek 3
Tel: 02 539 7255
Open: Mon 9am-3pm, 5pm-7pm, Tue 11am-1pm, 5pm-8pm, Wed 9am-1pm, 5pm-7pm, Thu 10am-2pm, 4pm-6pm, Fri 10am-1pm, 3pm-7pm, Sat 10am-8pm, Sun 9am-7pm