Is Yaowarat, Bangkok’s endearingly rot-stained Chinatown, the best spot in town for street eats? The jury’s out but shophouse kitchens such as this one sure do make its case a strong one.
Several doors down from faux-period boutique hotel Shanghai Mansion sits Lao Tang’s glass and metal stall with hung brown geese – a rare treat in this chicken and duck obsessed city – and just behind it the restaurant’s interior. If you notice more foot traffic than you’re used to, that’s because this narrow hole-in-the-wall is actually an alleyway with ten stainless steel tables lining its white-tiled sides. While some people use Lao Tang as a shortcut, others are just heading for the A/C room – a cool spot when you’re hot and sticky.
For almost 40 years now passersby have been drawn in to Lao Tang by the sounds of staff chop-chop-chopping out the portions. What brings them back though is the palo (five spice soup), something the second generation owner Khun Wsant hasn’t meddled with since taking over from this father. The goose meat is also juicy, tender and sweet, a result of having been gently stewed for an hour and a half in the soup. As well as the obvious, white rice, sides you should also scarf include bitter cucumber soup and stir fried fish with Chinese celery.
Though it closes at 3pm each day, come before 1pm to avoid disappointment – these geese still have wings, literally flying off the hanging racks and onto the plates of hungry Thai-Chinese. Sizes of the fowl range from small to large, and it’s possible to order a whole one, something many locals do during Chinese religious festivals. One other thing: don’t go asking for the usual Thai-style fork and spoon. Here, in the heart of Chinatown, its chopsticks only.
467/1 Yaowarat Rd |02-221-6070, 02-223-8934 | MRT Hua Lamphong | OPEN Daily 8am-3pm | PRICE B150-300 per plate