Old market communities survive here but you need to go looking for them. Tucked down an alley on Nakhon Sawan Road, just a few minutes northeast of the Old City by taxi, Nang Loeng is one of them.
In the past the local cinema, the famous Salerm Chalerm Thani, and the market that sits in the middle of this hidden enclave, surrounded by King Rama V era shophouses, had a symbiotic relationship. People would come here because they could catch a fl ick and do their daily shop. Fast forward to the present and the two storied, barnlike wooden structure that was the cinema has long since closed, now a weathered husk, but the area still well worth checking out. Full of noisy merchants hawking their wares, the circa 1899 market here, which was given a makeover in 2006, still packs as wide a selection of local delicacies as it always has, many of them legendary.
One must try among the many is a curry over rice stand, Khao Kaeng Rattana, located at the far end of the cinema house. Though pre-prepared, its range of meat curries, stuffed omelets, stir fries and spicy salads is excellent and much loved, many of the recipes dating back to the owner’s grandfather, who apparently cooked in the Royal Palace’s kitchens. Unusual dishes include kaeng kati sai bau (lotus stems in coconut milk with garcinia), and pad phak thong (pumpkin fried with eggs). A staple, kaeng kiew wan (green curry), is also delicious, its blend of green curry paste, fragrant kaffi r lime leaves and fresh coconut milk just right.
The ran khao gaeng (curry over rice stand) is often avoided by tourists worried about food poisoning. But busy ones like this one, where the food sells out quickly, are a great way to learn more about obscure Thai food – just point to the dishes that look appealing.
Khao Kaeng Rattana
Nakhorn Sawan Soi 6 (inside Nang Loeng Market compound) | Mon-Sat 10am-2pm