Bangkok is, quite probably, one of the greatest cities to eat around in this world. As such, one can expect quite a lot from a food tour in this city.
I joined Benz and Taste of Thailand Food Tours for a half a day walking around Thailand’s capital, tasting its food and talking about its culinary traditions.
We started the morning like many residents of Bangkok do: by grabbing an iced Thai milk tea to go, along with a sample of roti, filled with smooth chocolate and raisins. I learnt my lesson from previous food tours we’ve joined (like the one in Porto, Portugal) , and skipped breakfast all together before I joined this activity. And I am so glad I did! Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to keep up with all the sweet and savory samples that were about to come…
After breakfast, we walked to a small shop that specializes in making curry pastes. Small in size, yet very relevant as this is the house responsible for the tasty curries served in some of Bangkok’s top restaurants and hotels. After learning how the curry ingredients are freshly blended into a paste every day, we headed to learn more about everyday Thai ingredients at a local wet market. With fragrant Fish cakes on a stick in hand, we walked among the different vendors making a living stocking the kitchens of a city that truly loves to eat.
At one of the most popular sweet shops among locals in the area (the type of place you’d be quite unlikely to stumble upon as a tourist), we tried a variety of desserts. We learnt that although tourists often indulge in sweet sticky rice with mango, it’s more common for locals to enjoy it with custard or toppings of other fruits (durian, anyone?!). I am glad that I got to try five different Thai desserts in one go here, as this is the the type of item I’m more unlikely to buy a full serving of for myself. Truly sweet as I thought they’d be, I’d stick with the banana and rice steamed pudding, which was flavorful and wholesome.
At a smaller street market this time, we tried a variety of seasonal fruits, right before Benz walked us towards the fountain of eternal youth. At a typically Chinese dried goods and tea shop, we sipped herbal beverages that, might have not made us younger and stronger as sugested (I guess you have to keep coming back for more for this to work…), but went down smoothly with a generous add-on of sugar.
Thankfully, the next stop focused on a savory exploration of different dishes from a small restaurant specializing in duck. Packed with locals, this small restaurant served a truly tender duck (I am not even a fan of duck, but this wasn’t the greasy type) over steamed rice, duck noodles and duck soup.
At this point, after eating breakfast, lunch and dinner in the span of a couple of hours, nothing like taking a walk around the neighborhood. Walking past by small alleys, seeing how people live beyond the main roads and exchanging smiles with locals, can be as interesting as sampling their food.
The next stop was my absolute favorite in the entire food tour. By then, it was lunch time and street stalls as well as restaurants were full of working people enjoying their midday meal. And so we joined in, with a gorgeous spread of Tom Yum Soup, Green Papaya Salad and, the one item that for me was a revelation during this tour, this tangy salad featuring lemon grass and crispy peanuts:
One would think there was no room for more by now, but when you put a bunch of foodies together, there’s no limit to how much food you can try and, above all, how you can keep on talking about food through it all! And so we walked towards our last stop, a fancy restaurant where we tried some of the best Green Chicken Curry I’ve truly ever had, and closed on a sweet tone with coconut ice-cream.
Even though I am fairly acquainted with Thai food, I found the tour enjoyable and a good intro to the local cuisine, particularly for those who may be new to it. I wish we would have talked about the cultural context of the dishes and use of ingredients a little more in depth though. If you are a big time foodie, you might think that this aspect of the tour is somehow incomplete. Thailand has such an immense culinary tradition, that I understand it’s difficult to cover everything. Still, I wished that we would have talked more about the distinct foods from different regions of the country even if, naturally, we wouldn’t have the opportunity to try them all.
At about USD33 the tour offers a good value for money experience. And, more importantly, as far as food selected for the tour goes, the dishes we had the opportunity to enjoy were truly impeccable.
Food tour costs ฿1200 Thai Baht (aprox. USD33)
Bangkok – Thailand