Kiwi food YouTubers Thomas & Sheena Southam are on an eternal quest to find the most delicious local food the world has to offer. This week, they check out the best cheap eats in Bangkok.
Riotous, chaotic, hot: far too many people dismiss Bangkok as a concrete jungle, unworthy of a visit - especially when Thailand's beaches are beckoning. But give Bangkok a chance and you won't look back.
The trick is to embrace it - the pungent aromas of its wet markets, the maddening crawl of its traffic, the heady tropical heat - it's a city that makes you feel alive.
And if you're food-obsessed, Bangkok truly is your paradise. In the city of angels, you're only ever a few metres away from your next bite - Bangkok has approximately 100,000 restaurants plus another 100,000 street food vendors. That makes New York's 50,000 dining options seem a bit paltry, right? Here are a few of our favourite food experiences to get you started…
1. Eat & stack at Doy Kuay Teow Reua Boat Noodles
Don't leave Bangkok without eating one of the city's most unique dishes - boat noodles - so named because they used to be served by vendors who travelled by boat along Bangkok's canals. Victory Monument is home to many boat noodle restaurants but our favourite is Doy Kuay Teow Reua, down a small lane and behind a temple.
Rice noodles wallow in a rich broth enriched with cow or pig blood (don't let the blood bit put you off - you wouldn't know it was there) and redolent with the aroma of star anise and clove. Slices of pork or beef plus a few bits of morning glory complete the bowl. Then it's up to you to add beansprouts, basil, crispy wonton skins if you fancy and any or all of the four seasonings you'll often find on a Thai table: chilli, sugar, vinegar and fish sauce.
You'll want to order a couple of bowls at a time as the portions are tiny - in keeping with the tradition of small servings which were easier to dish out from a wee boat. Eat and stack (your bowls) is the way things are done here and don't forget to leave room for the customary dessert of khanom krok (coconut puddings) which you'll find in little ceramic bowls on the table.
Eat it at 15 Ratchawithi Rd, Khwaeng Thung Phaya Thai, Khet Ratchathewi, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10400, Thailand. Open daily, 8am-5pm.
2. Cool down with the best ice cream in the city
Steer well clear of Khao San Rd and Bangkok's old town instantly becomes a thousand times more appealing. Endearing dilapidated shop-houses, quiet streets and a languid pace of local life - it's a part of town well worth exploring.
A mandatory stop is a dark, poky ice cream shop, which has been cooling down locals with their homemade ice cream for three generations. At Natthaphon, dainty scoops of mango and coconut ice cream are served in chipped china with metal soup spoons and topped with myriad treats ranging from roasted peanuts to gelatinous palm seeds. The coconut ice cream is a winner, the texture icy soft like snowflakes, the heat from your mouth dissolving each spoonful into a milky, sweet puddle. Don't feel guilty for ordering a second serving - we've done so many times!
Eat it at Natthaphon Coconut Ice Cream, Phraeng Phuthon Rd, Khwaeng San Chao Pho Sua, Khet Phra Nakhon, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10200. Open Monday to Saturday, 9am-5pm.
3. Embark on a progressive dinner in Yaowarat (Chinatown)
Yaowarat comes alive at night: bright lights, neon signs and roaring traffic means it's an invigorating place to embark on a progressive dinner. Start with hoy tod, the oyster omelette at Nai Mong Hoi Thod. More pancake than omelette, a batter is cooked in lard on a searing pan over charcoal until crispy and golden before being piled with plump, creamy oysters.
Wander down the main strip and pull up a stool at T & K Seafood which sprawls out on to a corner of Yaowarat Rd. Cool down with a couple of Chang beers and snack on wok tossed clams, fragrant with holy basil and chilli, and suck the buttery head juices from massive, juicy grilled prawns.
For something sweet make a beeline for the Chinese desserts stalls. Hot desserts include gooey black sesame-filled rice dumplings in a spicy, sweet ginger soup. Or if you're after something to help you cool down try the pink, jelly covered water chestnuts served with coconut milk and crushed ice. Perch on a stool with your bowl of dessert and take in the mad Bangkok traffic. Dinner in Yaowarat is one quintessential Bangkok experience you don't want to miss.
Eat it at Nai Mong Hoi Thod, 539 Phlap Phla Chai Rd, Khwaeng Pom Prap, Khet Pom Prap Sattru Phai, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10100. Open Tuesday to Sunday, 11am-9pm.