On the quest to find the best eateries in Bangkok, one of the most famous elements of Thai cuisine isn’t actually stir-fry, som tum, or rice dishes, but rather noodles. Anyone who’s been to Bangkok can attest to the abundance of noodle stalls that line the streets! Due to Chinese influence on Thai food, noodles are served everywhere, and there is no noodle dish more popular than Thailand’s boat noodles.
Boat noodles! The name originates from the early 1900s, when these types of noodles were served from boats in Bangkok’s canals. Think a small bowl with a handful of noodles, meat, broth, and vegetables.
Their signature flavor stems from a deep-brown pork/beef broth, combined with dark soy sauce and spices and garlic. You can also order the soup nam tok (meaning “waterfall”) which means the soup is thickened with cow or pig’s blood. Trust me, it tastes better than it sounds!
So, where can I find the best boat noodles in Bangkok?
The story starts in a little alleyway tucked away near the bustling Victory Monument. It’s an extremely local spot, not on Yelp or TripAdvisor. Thais know it as the “boat noodle alleyway” or “Kuay teow rua Wat Makok” since it’s near the temple.
After 18 years of living in Thailand, I swear that these are the best boat noodles I’ve ever had in my life!
Why are they so good?
The strength of these noodles lies primarily in their broth. The broth is rich, almost creamy, and extremely flavorful, with pretty much no need for additional seasoning. This, combined with the perfectly cooked tender beef/pork, veggies and noodles, makes this place unbeatable.
Now for the insane part. For a bowl of noodles, you pay 15 THB. That’s 50 cents, or 0.5 USD. Talk about a deal! I eat around 2-3 bowls per trip there, and pay a maximum of 2 USD each time (with water, additional snacks, etc.)
What should I order?
There’s a whole variety of combinations you can order. From various noodles (thin, wide, small, glass, egg), the choice between pork or beef, level of spiciness, and broth or no broth. Each order is made fresh and served pretty much instantaneously (seriously, they’re so fast!)
My personal favorite for the best boat noodles is the following combo:
- Noodle type: “sen lek” (small rice noodle)
- Meat: beef (their beef is tender and oh so good!)
- Broth: yes, please!
- Be sure to also pick your spiciness level (remember, Thais eat very spicy!)
- Top this off with some “kiao krop,” or crunchy deep-fried wonton squares and some pork rind and you’re good to go!
- Be sure to finish with some “kanom tuay,” a tender coconut custard dessert that is absolutely fantastic
Now you know Bangkok’s best kept secret! Go now before the word gets out, and let me know what you ordered and how many bowls you ate!