• A street food vendor in Bangkok, Thailand (Tourism Authority, Thailand)
A loud outcry followed news the Bangkok government was banning the city’s beloved street food, but happily, the Tourism Authority of Thailand say it’s staying put.
By
Eloise Basuki

26 Apr 2017 - 1:10 PM  UPDATED 26 Apr 2017 - 1:16 PM

In what was an emotional rollercoaster ride for our hearts and stomachs alike, Bangkok’s street vendors were facing eviction, but now appear to be (mostly) staying put.

The city’s street food sellers are safe according to a statement released by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). The TAT have assured visitors to Bangkok that the city will not be banning street food as per earlier reports, but rather increasing the effort to manage stall-holders and raise the bar on hygiene, waste removal and orderliness.

Last week, Thai newspaperThe Nation quoted the Bangkok governor’s chief advisor Vallop Suwandee as saying “The BMA (Bangkok Metropolitan Administration) is now working to get rid of the street vendors from all 50 districts of Bangkok and return the pavements to the pedestrians… Every street vendor will have to move out.” Mr Vallop was also stated saying street food hawkers in popular tourist strips of Khao San Road and Chinatown’s Yaowarat Road would be cleared out by the end of the year, a bizarre decision after the city was just named the world’s best street food by a recent CNN report.

Thankfully, the TAT have received clarification from the BMA who, after much local and international media outcry on the proposed ban, have back-pedalled on this initial statement from Mr Vallop. “TAT has contacted the BMA and found that while there are measures in place to control food vendors and enforce current regulations, there is no outright ban on the sale of street food. In fact, the BMA appreciates that food vendors are a vital part of the city's identity and helped Bangkok be listed by CNN as one of the 23 best cities in the world for street food.”

Street food is central to the identity of Bangkok, and is amongst the world's best

Although much-loved street food areas of Sukhumvit Soi 38, Thong Lor, Ekkamai and Phra Khanong have already been cleared, The Bangkok Post reports the government has no intention for a city-wide ban and quotes Mr Vallop stating a city-wide ban would be impossible as street food is an integral part of local life, and they will just be focusing on regulating the more crowded areas.

David Thompson, author of Thai Street Food , told SBS Food last week when news of the move emerged that he expected there would be widespread unrest if the ban was implemented: "Street food is essential for the poorer part of Thailand - people who are paid a subsistance wage can't afford food in restaurants and marketplaces. And it's not only food for the poorly paid, but employment and income for others."

According to the TAT, the BMA will be acting as more of a support to vendors – introducing universal hygienic standard practices for food preparation, providing training programs on food safety and enforcing measures on waste management and cleanliness.

It’s a turn of events sure to raise a few eyebrows, but to celebrate the good news that the two-dollar pad Thai and takeaway green curry is safe for your next visit, we’ve chosen a few of the less famous street food dishes in the city to try, and some of the best vendors cooking them.

Fermented rice noodles (khanom jeen)

These fermented rice noodles are cooked fresh each morning and served with either a fish or chicken curry sauce. Sit down at the shared table at Khanom Jeen Soi Suan Plu and top your bowl liberally from the serve-yourself bowl of herbs, pickles and bean sprouts. 433/6 Soi Suan Plu, Sathorn, Bangkok.

Rice porridge (jok)

The breakfast dish of choice for many Thai locals, jok is similar to Cantonese congee, but with a raw egg cracked into the bowl before serving. The porridge at Jok Samyan are cooked low and slow for the smoothest consistency. Chula Soi 11, Sam Yan, Bangkok.

Gravy noodles (Rad na)

Poured onto a sizzling hotplate, the thick yet silky gravy noodles at Krua Porn Lamai are a favourite in Chinatown; Gordon Ramsay has even paid a visit. 37 Plaeng Nam Road (off Yaowarat Road), Chinatown, Bangkok.

Braised pork leg (khao kha moo)

Simmered for hours in a broth spiced with cinnamon, star anise and plenty of herbs, this tender braised pork leg served with rice and pickled mustard greens is a plate of utter comfort. Try it at Ko Jua Huad, 109 Burapha Road, Banglamphu, Bangkok.

Toast (khanom pang ping)

While not a traditional Thai dessert by any means, the lines at Tasty Toast in Chinatown’s famed street-food hub, Yaowarat Road, are heaving. Steamed or toasted bread is stuffed with sweet fillings ranging from pandan coconut custard, Thai milk tea custard, chocolate, pineapple jam and more. Across from Jae Auan Rad Naa and Bank of Ayudhya, Yaowarat Road, Chinatown, Bangkok.

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Photographs supplied by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).

Thai street food favourites
Pad kee mao (stir-fried rice noodles with beef, holy basil and chilli)

Sticky sweet oyster sauce, bright holy basil, a hit of chilli - just try and make a mediocre version of this Bangkok-in-a-bowl street food classic. Pickled bean sprouts take these noodles to the next level. 

Grilled pork skewers (muu bing)

Simple to prepare, but complex in flavour, these grilled pork skewers are a Thai street food staple. It needs little else but a cold beer and some good friends to share it with.

Pat Thai

Pat Thai is considered the classic Siamese dish, but in fact its origins are firmly rooted in Chinese cooking.

Pork satay with chilli dipping sauce

It is believed that satay is an interpretation of Middle Eastern kebabs and was introduced to Southeast Asia by way of Arab traders. There are countless regional variations; this version is made of pork, grilled over charcoal and served with chilli vinegar sauce rather than traditional peanut sauce.