Saturday, June 16, 2007

Old Posts pt 1: 12 Baht Noodles

The following is from another blog I previously contributed to, the now defunct I thought I'd reprint a few of the relevant entries.

12 Baht noodles:

So to start this off I might as well stay close to home as my favorite noodle stand in Bangkok is right outside my front door. I live in an 18 story apartment building between the busy businessy streets of Narathiwat and Sathorn, but, as everywhere in Bangkok, when you get off the main thoroughfares find yourself on back alleys, in old neighborhoods crowded with food stalls where the common people get their fill of tasty, cheap fare 3, 4 or even 5 times a day.

Now, noodle stands, in particular, are a dime a dozen in Thailand and they are usually quite passable, but unremarkable. Noodles are the food of the masses, people slurp them for breakfast, lunch, dinner or anytime in between. 12 baht noodle, as we affectionately refer to our local, is definitely the cheapest bowl of noodle you're likely to find in Bangkok, but somehow the quality doesn't suffer for it. I guess they rely on pushing quantity. Seems to be working as it's always packed with local families and construction workers.

Favorite noodle stand

The stand is a modest, no frills affair which has clearly occupied its particular niche on the side of our soi for decades. The stand is on one side of the narrow street, but the broken down tables line both sides and diners are constantly endangered by the passing motorbikes and tuk tuks. The chopsticks dry in the sun, but maybe not quickly enough as they are all a bit mildewy. The green jug in the photo is self-service ice water. Free water is a nice bonus to eating at cheap street stalls rather than in restaurants where they only have overpriced bottled water.

The menu choices at 12 baht noodle are fairly limited; it's mainly pork noodles. They do serve a couple of salad items (isaan-style), but I've yet to branch out. The noodles are just so tasty. As with any noodle stand in Thailand you order by specifying the type of noodle you want, the meat and whether you want soup or not. This stand only has rice noodles (kuaytiaw) which are classed by size: sen mii (vermicelli), sen lek (narrow and flat), or sen yai (fat and flat). They are all delicious, so it is just a matter of personal preference. 12 baht noodle only serves pork, so there's no need to mention the meat unless you don't want it (some places also have fish balls, chicken, beef or even duck). Last you say whether you want broth with your noodles: naam means "water" and haeng means "dry," so our typical order is: sen lek naam.

The secret is in the deliciously rich broth, the massive amounts of crunchy fried garlic and the fresh bowl of veggies they serve on the side.


Best Bowl

Once it arrives at the table we load it up with condiments: sugar, vinegary chili sauce, fish sauce, chili flakes and, of course as much basil and bean sprouts as we can fit in the bowl. Give it a stir and...shlurrrrp!


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