When it comes to street food and Banglampu, I am tireless. For me, this bustling, chaotic quarter of Bangkok, best known as a backpacker hub, is a treasure trove of gastronomic gems waiting to delight my palate.
Most days a dizzying line up of street vendors swarm the pavement, turning walkways into a cross between an obstacle course and a magical mystery tour of aromas that waft from every side. Except on Mondays, when the city authorities ban street vendors and the pavements are suddenly vacant!
From one angle, lonely walkways may look a little sad, but the upside is that with fewer vendors to cloud the vision you can better appreciate some of the other, more-established restaurants that pepper the alleys of Banglampu.
One of my favourite roast duck noodle joints is literally squeezed down a cramped alley that’s so narrow you’ll miss it if you blink. Small as it may be, this place looms large in my consciousness and has become a culinary anchor in my life. I still remember my mother bringing me here as a tiny child. At that time it was the father at the helm—o r rather behind the stove. It’s one of the places where the flavours have been cultivated not over the years, but down through the generations.
Like so many places in Thailand, my roast duck noodle restaurant cloaks its treasures behind the most modest of appearances; two rows of seating extend from the front, which is decorated with a few ducks and shrouded in the steam emanating from a cauldron of broth. When it comes to Bangkok eateries, the rule is that one should never equate the beauty of a venue with the taste of its cuisine. I’ve had some of my finest meals in the most simple-looking places.
And it’s almost always more about focus than variety. Some of the greatest restaurants do just one or two dishes, but they do them well.
Here you’ll find just two basic choices: Ped Yang (roasted duck) and Ped Palo (stewed duck). If that doesn’t sound inspiring, remember that the stewed duck is cooked in a rich five-spice broth and the roasted duck is marinated in a mouth-watering mix of brown sugar, garlic, and soy sauce (known as si-iew in Thai). It’s all about the balance and that magic ingredient.
Instead of ordering the classic duck noodle dish with soup (which is great, of course), I went for a version known as Kao Lao Ped Toon, which consists of a bowl of stewed duck meat on bones (marinated in that delicious five-spice mix) laid over vegetables, but without the soup. To me, the soup can sometimes be a distraction from the delicate flavour of the duck. You can spice it up with a dusting of fiery dried chilli and a splash of chilli vinegar. Since one is never enough, I also opted for a second bowl, this time with flat noodles and with the soup served on the side. You can’t find yourself before such artful deliciousness and not go the whole nine yards, right?
Kouy Tiew Ped Yang Banglampu is on Chakkrapong Road, opposite Tanee Road. It’s around the Khao San Road area. Come for breakfast, lunch, or an early dinner between 8 am and 4pm each day.