Review: Thailand’s Best Street Food


When picking up this book, it certainly helps to be a foodie that’s planning an upcoming trip to Bangkok, Chiang Mai or Phuket, Thailand. But it’s certainly not necessary. (I am half a world away from Thailand at this moment, and can still virtually taste the Pork Rice Porridge of the Jok Samyan shophouse at Chula Soi 11, Sam Yan! That’s how inviting — and sumptuously mouth-watering — this guidebook is!)

Each of the many street food opportunities is meticulously documented. First, the reader is provided with its name (in both English and Thai), as well as its location, telephone number, hours, and directions on how to best reach it. For additional guidance, colorful and exquisitely detailed regional district maps are provided, with the individual street food locations highlighted. The destination profile continues with a brief description of the food stall, cart or shophouse, and some sense of its particular appeal to its typical local clientele.

The house specialty is identified, along with an indication of its likely price. Such headings as ‘Options’, ‘Notable Extras’ and ‘Standard Toppings’ lead further and more detailed descriptions of dishes and variations present on the menu. Available beverages are also indicated. One or more accompanying photos depict happy customers, hardworking staff, specialty dishes or views of the food location itself.

Perhaps some of the most helpful information for the tourist or weary backpacker is also provided. This includes the type of seating provided (if any); whether conventional accessories such as utensils, tissues, toothpicks, water, or condiments are provided on tables; and whether any restroom facility is available, and, if so, of what type and with what conveniences. (For example, this guidebook tellingly advises ‘avoid’ one facility’s restroom, ‘look for a better alternative’ in another instance, and to seek out those of a nearby hospital in a third instance.) Such guidance can prove infinitely valuable and comforting to the overstressed traveler.

But Thailand’s Best Street Food is also educational, for it includes introductory sections that define street food and the many types of street food vendors and locales one is likely to encounter. Equally informative sections describe the many types of traditional noodles, broths, main ingredients, rice dishes, appetizers, snacks, desserts and beverages typically on offer. One is thus able to effectively ‘pre-plan’ one’s desired menu and preferences before ever stepping foot on a Thai street. A helpful end-of-book index lists various food stalls by food type and locale. As an added benefit to the eventually homebound tourist, this book also contains do-it-yourself recipes for 10 different distinctive Thai street dishes. The plentiful illustrations of dishes throughout the guidebook can also serve as a visual check on the final presentation of one’s own homemade versions.

Thailand’s Best Street Food is a softcover book — with a food- and beverage-resistant coated stock cover — in vertical (portrait) format. At 8.25” x 5.25” x 0.5”, with a flexible cover, it is well-suited to backpack or purse or slicker pocket. It consists of 162 pages and includes numerous color photographs and a number of richly detailed orientation maps. Included are a brief biographical profile of the itinerant food-loving author, Chawadee Nualkhair, and a short endpaper description of ‘The Tuttle Story — Books to Span the East and West’.

The book is published by Tuttle Publishing, an imprint of Periplus Editions (HK) Ltd., of Clarendon, VT and Singapore, and is available in North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia Pacific and Japan from Tuttle Publishing and its affiliates.

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