Boat noodles is a Bangkok experience worth checking out. They serve them all over town, but few spots are more known then Boat Noodle Alley just north of the Victory Monument. Several vendors are situated along the small canal, and it’s 10-12 Bath a bowl. Some of them even have a bonus, eat 20 and you’ve earned yourself a free pepsi.
I choose to sit inside to get a small breeze from the fan. The room is hot and rather humid, mostly filled with Thai students, slurping down one bowl after the other. A few families with a handful kids have also found their tables, in addition to a couple of tourists or expats.
It’s easy to make up your mind on what to order. You decide on pork or beef, or the yen ta fo (fish balls), then you do your choice of noodles.
Pork are usually pieces of roasted red pork (moo daeng) and grounded pork in the form of meat balls (luk moo), in addition to a piece of pig’s liver. Tell them «no inside» if you don’t like liver, or just leave the piece in the bowl. The beef version comes with pieces of stewed and tender beef. The yen ta fo is grounded fish in the form of fish balls.
When it comes to noodles, the standard variation are sen lek (thin firm rice noodles), sen yai (wide soft rice noodles), and baan mee (wheat noodles).
Don’t limit yourself to one or two bowls, as the portions are rather small, so start with ordering three or four and go with a mix to find your favorite, unless you already know it. A couple of minutes later the bowls are brought to you’re table.
Boat noodles (kuai tiao) has a strong flavor. Basically it contains dark soy sauce, pickled bean curd and some other spices, and of course a spoonful of nam tok (cow or pigs blood). A legendary way of serving it, and the reason behind the intense and delicious flavor. But don’t worry, the hot stock pored over a spoonful blood will kill any bacteria.
Boat noodles originates from China and have been served in Bangkok since the early 1940s. As with most Chinese food coming to Thailand, it starts to develop and incorporate distinct Thai flavors.
In the past, a merchant who sold boat noodles would be the only person working on the small boat, performing all the tasks from paddling the boat to scald the noodles, season the soup, serve the dish and wash the dishes. The reason behind the small portions was to avoid spilling when handing it over to the customer.
There isn’t one restaurant in particular at Boat Noodle Alley, but several vendors in a row along the alley that runs in parallel with the canal, all of them sticking to the same philosophy.
For each bowl you finish, you stack them at the end of the table. By offering a free Pepsi after a number of bowls the restaurants have made a bit of a competition and probably sell more bowls with it.
For lovers of boat noodles Doy Kuai Tiao Neua a 8-10 minutes walk away from boat noodle alley is a must – both the pork and the beef version is no less than fantastic
Name: Boat Noodle Alley (a few vendors lined after each other).
Food: Boat noodles
Price: 10-12 Bath a bowl
Address: Boat Noodle Alley
How to get there: Take BTS to Victory Monument and walk North along the overhead walkway in the direction of the night market. Keep to the right around the big roundabout. Walk it trough the end, then take the steps down to the street, turn 180 degrees, walk for a few meters and you will see the alley starts on your left side. You can also step down from the overhead walkway as soon as you have passed Ratchawithi Road, then pass through the night market and take the small bridge over the canal. The better option for vendors will be the one to the right where you see the sign of free pepsi if you eat 20 bowls.