There is a dazzling array of culinary creations available in Thailand that have variously been described as an explosive mix of chili, garlic and lime with meat and veg occasionally thrown in. A truly authentic dining experience can be had by eating at one of the thousands of small simple noodle shops scattered across the country. The prices are quiet reasonable at 40-60 Baht a bowl (~$2) although ancillary costs such as drycleaning can push the price up a little. The main components of Thai Noodle Soup (Goy Teow) are
- The Broth, which is a stock made from root vegetables, bones and various herbs and spices.
- The meat, which can be chicken, beef, pork, fish or basically anything.
- The noodles, which can be wheat and egg noodles or different sized rice noodles.
Ordering can be challenging as there is often no menu available and it can be interesting to mix and match so learning a few basic Thai words can be helpful. If your Thai is limited and you ask for something the cook doesn’t have or if he doesn’t understand you he will probably just make whatever he thinks is best, so top marks for enthusiasm there. More often than not the soup is a just a stock, which can be though of as a base, so to bring it to life there are four critical condiments on every table in any self respecting noodle shop. Dried chili flakes, fish sauce, fermented chilis in vinegar and just to complicate matters sugar. If you happen to add too much sugar or vinegar the fish sauce can be used to mask those flavours, but unfortunately nothing can mask the flavour of fish sauce.
Namon Noodles is one of my favourites, the shop has a cool retro feel and specialises in pork noodles and offers a few rice dishes and various fruit juices. The recomended dish is “Aow San Lek, Tom Yum, Moo Grop, Moo Deng, mai aow krung nai kup.” That translates as
- Aow San Lek I would like the small rice noodles
- Tom Yum with Tom Yum (spicy, sour) soup
- Moo Grop, Moo Deng with fried pork belly and a sweet roasted pork loin slices
- Mai aow krung nai kup but no offal or liver, please and thank you.