By Korakot Nym Punlopruksa
Roaming in Bangkok at night is one of my precious moments to enjoy this city. It’s the time that the city is mellowing down—less noise and less traffic—and many hidden scenes and lives unfold in front of my eyes. Bangkok never sleeps, indeed.
I like to roam for food at night and I always keep my eyes open for something outdoorsy. I love to eat with a companion who is as excited as me. That feeling is the ingredient that makes any meal tastier. One food exploration with my Thai-Chinese girlfriend took us to her childhood area, a backstreet of bustling Yaowarat Road—Chinatown’s Main Street— where she took me to the sexier and quieter area of Songwad Road. Our mission was the search for fish ball noodle soup and I asked her to take me to her favourite one. When we compared lists of fish ball noodle soup vendors we found there were more than four around this street alone, but her choice was one I had not yet tried.
Walking down Songwad Road on the right side we came to a pool of neon light brightening the area. The empty space between the building of Jia Tai (CP Group’s first office), and a cluster of Chinese shophouses, was bursting with vibrancy after the sky had darkened. There were a variety of food carts dotted along the square, with smoke floating from different spots—like special effects on a period movie set. And one of these vendors was Lim Lao Ngow fish ball noodle, the love of my girlfriend’s life!
She convinced me to order big flat dry noodles with fish balls, together with thin crispy fried fish skin and a bowl of soup. The flat noodle had a texture that was both firm and soft (hard to achieve), and the various types of fish balls came in different shapes, and slightly different tastes. She was overjoyed reliving the tastes of her childhood.
But I inhaled something in a different territory altogether… weird gap pork satay! The burnt charcoal smell and sound of its crackling was enough to draw me in, no questions asked! I ordered moo (pork) satay and had an epiphany. The burnt charcoal smell plus the marinated curry power showered all over the satay hit me before I bit, and the big wow effect came when I chewed it up carefully. Many times, I find moo satay to be just a slab of meat on a stick with yellow curry powder colour—with the taste of just pork and no soul in it. But this one was full of soul, and the meat is succulent, soft, and firm. The lady said her family recipe uses a particular type of curry powder and a long marinating time so all the goodies merge into one round texture and taste. More importantly to me, it has a nicely balanced mix of the fatty part and the meat part. Good satay needs to have a melt-in-the-mouth element and this one nailed it. You will find me back on Songwad Road exploring more food carts around here for sure!
This food vendor area is open every day except Monday, from 6:30 pm till 11pm. If you walk along Songwad Road (a side street of Yaowarat Road), in the direction of traffic, the collection of food carts will be on your right.