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Thong Lo Grilled Pork

Michael Babcock, Thursday, February 24th, 2011

Thong Lo View

View of Thong Lo from Sukhumvit road

We love the street food in Thailand and Thong Lo has its share of delicious things to eat, including grilled pork. Since Kasma has her small-group tours stay in the Thong Lo area, i’ve spent a fair amount of time there over the years. Thong Lo (pronounced closer to “Tawng Law”) is the name for Sukhumvit Soi 55. Thong Lo is generally considered an upscale neighborhood; nonetheless, as nearly everywhere else in Thailand, there is ready availability of all kinds of delicious street food. In addition, there are numerous store-front restaurants that are well worth a taste!

(Click on an image to see a larger version.)

Street Vendor

Getting closer to grilled pork

I like to graze along the street. Some of my favorites are the grilled bananas, the sticky rice with mangos, pork leg rice and Northeastern-style charcoal-grilled sticky rice (Kao Jee).

There’s one vendor who I have extreme difficulty just walking by, without stopping to make a purchase. It’s found on Thong Lo just a little ways in from Sukhumvit Road on the lower-numbered soi side, just a little bit further in than the shop with Mangos (and Sticky Rice); a bit further down is my favorite place for Duck Noodles.

I think most Westerners thinking of grilled meat on sticks in Thailand would immediately think of satay. This vendor sells another kind of grilled pork called (Moo Bping), translated by Kasma as Grilled Marinated Pork on Skewers.

Grilled Pork Vendor

Grilled pork vendor


Grilled Pork

Delicious grilled pork

Moo Bping has wider slices of pork than satay and a different marinade. A good moo bping includes a small slice of pork fat, grilled in with the other slices of meat. Rather than being served with a peanut sauce (as with satay), it comes with a hot and sour dipping sauce. Actually, I don’t mind eating it without the sauce: at least at this street stall, the meat is quite succulent and already well-flavored from the marinade.

Unless memory fails, it is 10 baht for a fairly substantial stick. Try a couple!


Update: Unfortunately, between writing this entry and posting it, this vendor has disappeared from Thong Lo. I’m going to leave the entry up for two reasons. One is that it is a very typical street food operation and similar grilled pork vendors can be found all over Thailand. Two is that it is the nature of street food that vendors come and go. Luckily, if you walk back to Sukhumvit and turn right, there was another moo bping vendor already set up and selling.


The following articles are also about Thong Lo street food.


Written by Michael Babcock, February 2011

Thong Lo Street Vendor (Wednesday Photo)

Michael Babcock, Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

Seafood Vendor on Sukhumvit Road

Fish Vendor

Fish vendor, Thong Lo

Kasma has her tour groups stay at a hotel right at the intersection of Sukhumvit Road and Sukhumvit Soi 55, popularly called Thong Lo (but pronounced “Tawng Law”) so we’ve had many opportunities over the year to enjoy the lively street scene.

Heading towards the higher soi numbers on the odd soi side right past Sukhumvit there’s always vendors right on the street in the morning, selling everything from aprons to delicious Kanom Krok (Grilled Coconut-Rice Hot Cakes) – see Siripon, Maker of Kanom Krok.

I recently began scanning some of my old black and white negatives onto the computer and came across this seafood vendor. Most probably taken in 1994, on one of my very first trips to Thailand, seeing her smile, even after all this years, brings a responding smile to my face.


The Wednesday Photo is a new picture each week highlighting something of interest in Thailand. Click on the picture to see a larger version.

Thong Lo Mangos (and Sticky Rice)

Michael Babcock, Sunday, April 4th, 2010

Another great food treat that you can find at Thong Lo (Sukhumvit Soi 55) is White Sticky Rice with Mangoes.

Thong Lo Fruit Store

Look for the mangos!

My last blog on March 18 was on Thong Lo Duck Noodles; here’s one more blog on a Thong Lo stop. Thong Lo (pronounced “Tawng Law”) has its own skytrain stop. Kasma puts her small-group tours at a hotel there close to the mouth of the Soi. I’ve also written on its street food in One Soi’s Street Food Scene. I’ve enjoyed the chance to get to know one particular Thai neighborhood a bit better. Although Thong Lo is considered an upscale area, there are plenty of store fronts and street vendors that depend on un-trendy people (such as myself) to keep them in business.

Mangoes

Luscious mangoes!

(Click on an image to see a larger version.)

One very strong candidate for “Favorite Thai Dish of All Time” would have to be Coconut-Flavored Sticky Rice with MangoesKao Niow Ma-muang. When Kasma teaches it in her cooking classes (week 3 of the beginning series) it is one dish that seldom has any leftovers!

There’s a store on Thong Lo that does a very good version that you can purchase to go. It’s “Ma Varee Fruits Store” and is the first fruit store you come to as you walk from the skytrain down Thong Lo (on the same side as the sky train exits). You’ll recognize it by the display of mangoes in front.

Sticky Rice and Mango

Sticky Rice and Mango, to go

A quick word on Thai mangoes. They are heavenly. Mind you, I’ve never been in Thailand during the actual mango season when they are at their peak. Nevertheless, the ones I have eaten bear no resemblance to anything we get in the San Francisco Bay Area. My favorites are the yellow ones; even off-season when you get a good one, it melts in your mouth with sweetness – an “ah ha!” taste experience. Add the sticky rice, mixed with delicious, rich (fresh) coconut milk, slightly sweetened, and you have ambrosia.


Written by Michael Babcock, April 2010

Thong Lo Duck Noodles (Closed, alas)

Michael Babcock, Thursday, March 18th, 2010

UPDATE: Alas, my favorite noodle shop is now closed (probably in 2013, actually). If you’re looking for another noodle shop in Thong Lo, try Lee’s Noodles.

I’ll leave this blog posted for historical reasons.


I have a particularly fond spot in my heart for duck noodles in Thailand; luckily they are available at in a little duck noodle shop at the Thong Lo neighborhood where I often stay.

Duck Noodle Shop

“Mandarin” Duck Noodle Shop

On my very first trip to Thailand (in 1992) I arrived in the early morning and by the time I got to my hotel in Thong Lo* it was past 3:00 a.m. I was hungry so Kasma took me across Sukhumvit Road to the night market on Soi 38. I was amazed! The street was all lit up, as bright as daytime, and there were maybe 20 different food stalls, many with patrons sitting in front. We went to a duck noodle stall and I still can taste those noodles. (A recent Wednesday Photo showed a night market vendor at the same market.)

Duck Noodle Shop from Street

Duck Noodle Shop on Thong Lo

That very first year I discovered a duck noodle shop right around the corner from where we stay. It’s become a favorite place to eat ever since. It’s a fairly typical storefront eating place in Thailand, opening right up onto the street with the food assembled in the front and tables and chairs in back. The sign above the store says (in Thai) “Mandarin.”

Making Duck Noodles

Making duck noodles

(Click on an image to see a larger version.)

It is on Thong Lo (Sukhumvit Soi 55) on the Soi 55 side somewhat more than a block in; so quite close to the Thong Lo Skytrain stop. It’s next to a Japanese bakery and on the other side it’s two buildings before a driveway for the Grand Tower Inn. (The bakery address is 25/15.) You’ll see the plump ducks hanging in the glass display case in front.

To my taste, the duck in Thailand tastes a whole lot better than what we get in the states. They seem plumper and tastier. There is somewhat less fat (it is a warm climate, presumably they don’t need it there) and the taste is just exquisite.

Duck Noodles

Duck Noodles at the Mandarin

Like most noodle shops, this one specializes in one type of noodle, in this case, duck, roast duck (such as you find hanging in Chinatown stores here in the U.S.); there are other shops that serve, instead, stewed duck noodles. This shop also sell pork dishes, and though the crispy pork looks very appetizing, the only thing I’ve ever ordered there is duck. On occasion with Kasma we’ll order a plate of the duck and some chinese kroccoli cooked with oyster sauce. The other 90% of the time, I’ll get “Dry Duck Noodles” – Ba Mee Bped Haeng. The cost is 55 baht. This might be considered somewhat pricey compared to street stalls but there is a substantial amount of duck and I think it’s well worth it.

Condiment Set

Condiment set for adding flavors

When you order noodles in Thailand you first specify the type of noodle; in this case it is ba mee, a thin wheat noodle. Next you specify the meat – bped, meaning duck. Then you specify whether you want soup noodles by saying nahm (water, meaning soup) or haeng, meaning dry.

Each bowl is made to order and will include some greens along with the noodles and duck. The noodles come largely without flavoring – you are expected to spice them up according to your taste preference. I have a theory that this learning to balance and harmonize flavors from an early age (whenever they eat noodles) helps Thais to be such excellent cooks.

Duck Noodle Shop Inside

Inside the Mandarin

To flavor your foods, you’ll use the condiment set on the table; although the exact contents vary slightly from place to place, here you have 4 containers with fish sauce or soy (for salty), chilies in vinegar (for sour), dried chillies and roasted chillies in oil. There’s also sugar available on the table, to add sweetness but also to balance the other flavors. (See Kasma’s article, Balancing Flavors: An Exercise .)

I like to add a fair amount of the chillies in oil (I take it to the edge of my heat tolerance) along with some sour, salty and a bit of sugar to balance. After the initial additions, I’ll take a taste and then adjust as needed until it’s just right.

Roast Duck To Go

Roast duck to go

They offer various soft drinks but I usually just get the tea in a glass; it’s free, but the ice is 3 baht. Some noodle shops have a plastic container of weak tea (or water) on the table.

We often get a half a duck to go when we leave. They package it up in a styrofoam container and give you a package of gravy, package of soy sauce based dipping sauce, and a package of pickles. We’ll eat it later, sharing with Kasma’s sister and mom.

* Note: I use the official spelling for Sukhumvit Soi 55, which is Thong Lo (though sometimes Thong Lor, or Thonglor). A more phonetic spelling for the soi would be “Tawng Law.” (See A Note on Thai Pronunciation and Spelling.)

Duck Noodle Close-up

Duck Noodles, spiced, ready to eat


Written by Michael Babcock, March 2010. Updated December 2014.

Soi 38 Night Market (Wednesday Photo)

Michael Babcock, Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Vendor at a Night Market

Night Market Vendor

Night market vendor, Sukhumvit Soi 38

This is vendor at the Sukhumvit Soi 38 night market is cooking dishes to order. My first meal in Thailand was a dish of duck noodles from this market at around 3:00 a.m. in November, 1992. There were about 20+ stalls set up and the whole area was lit up as bright as day. And I was not the only one eating – they were doing a brisk business!

(Elsewhere on the website there’s another picture of a stall at the night market.)


The Wednesday Photo is a new picture  each week highlighting something of interest in Thailand. Click on the picture to see a larger version.