Features 2 minutes 06 December 2019

Fork in Hand, a Nod to the Past

Take a stroll through the Old Town to discover heritage Thai eateries worth checking into.

Thailand

Bangkok’s Old Town, with its romantic riverside and multicultural history, has seen a recent resurgence in popularity. While new glittering malls like Icon Siam and trendy shophouse renovations are sure to draw crowds, there is a quieter side to Phra Nakhon district that appears untouched by time. Around the Giant Swing monument and Sam Phraeng areas are delightful markets, historical buildings and spectacular eateries that have been serving the local community for decades. Here’s a quick guide on some of the heritage spots to tempt your taste buds in Bangkok.

Start the morning off at Talat Trok Moh, located next to one of Bangkok’s landmarks, the Giant Swing, adjacent to Wat Suthat Thep Wararam. This buzzing market is truly a local one, frequented by residents of the area who buy fresh and dried produce for home cooking. As with most Thai markets, we recommend you follow your nose to the section for cooked street food. Most items are conveniently packed to be taken home, or—do as the Thais do—and offer these delicacies as alms to the Buddhist monks.

Talat Trok Mo. Photo Credit: TAT.
Talat Trok Mo. Photo Credit: TAT.

Next, stop by a 60-year-old staple of Old Town at Kopi Hia Tai Ki, a cafe that specialises in breakfast. A long-time haunt for government officials who work at the nearby Bangkok Metropolitan Administration building, this unassuming shophouse has seen plenty of history. We can only imagine the intriguing conversations the walls may have heard. For breakfast, enjoy a light meal of pan-fried eggs or poached eggs paired with a traditional Thai coffee. Served hot or iced with condensed milk, the coffee here is renowned for being sweet, rich and creamy.

Kopi Hia Tai Ki. Photo Credit: TAT.
Kopi Hia Tai Ki. Photo Credit: TAT.
Sam Phraeng Neighbourhood 2_Credit TAT.jpg

After filling up, it’s time to explore the quaint neighbourhoods of Saam Phraeng. The word “Saam” means three and “Phraeng” means intersection, and likewise the area is divided into three roads, namely Phraeng Nara, Phraeng Phuthon and Phraeng Sapphasat. Developed in the 19th century by King Rama IV and V, this unique slice of Bangkok features beautiful Sino-Portuguese two-storey buildings. Those with a sweet tooth will also appreciate a stroll here, as there are several famous dessert shops. The 80-year old Kor Panich (Bib Gourmand, MICHELIN Guide 2020) is known for their mango and sticky rice that features the Kingdom’s best ingredients such as coconut cream from Chumphon and sugar from Kanchanaburi. Durian sticky rice is also available seasonally.

A short walk away is Khanom Bueang Phraeng Nara, a Thai crêpe shop that uses recipes from the royal palace kitchens of Prince Narathip during the reign of King Rama V. The homemade crêpe flour is stone-ground using Thai jasmine rice and mung bean. These crêpes (or khanom bueang in Thai) come with two different types of fillings - sweet with dried fruits and foi tong (Thai fios de ovos) or savoury with chopped shrimp, egg and coriander. Finally, to cool down there is Nattaphorn Ice Cream, a vintage shop that serves old fashioned ice cream. Although they are best known for their coconut flavour, we also recommend the black sesame and Thai tea.

When it comes time for dinner, enjoy a truly royal experience at Chakrabongse Dining (The Plate, MICHELIN Guide 2020). With rustic teak and silk interiors that blend European and Thai aesthetics, the restaurant is part of HRH Prince Chakrabongse’s historic home. For each day of the week, diners will be able to taste a different degustation menu. Special dishes include the rare Fried Dried Fish with Watermelon and Roasted Duck Red Curry with Tropical Fruits. End this historical tour of Bangkok with spectacular views of the Chao Phraya River and the Temple of the Dawn (Wat Arun) and you’ll head home with memories to last a lifetime.

Curry Dish from Chakrabongse Dining.
Curry Dish from Chakrabongse Dining.

Chakrabongse Dining
396/1 Maharat Rd., Grand Palace sub-district, Phra Nakhon
Tel. +66 (0) 2222 1290
Khanom Bueang Phraeng Nara
91 Phraeng Nara Road, Phra Nakhon
Tel. +66 (0) 2222 8500

Khanom Bueang Phraeng Nara
91 Phraeng Nara Road, Phra Nakhon
Tel. +66 (0) 2222 8500

Kopi Hia Tai Ki
37 Siriphong Road, Phra Nakhon
(next to the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration Head Office)
Tel. +66 (0) 2629 0646)

Kor Panich
431 433 Thanon Tanao, San Chao Pho Sua, Phra Nakhon
Tel. +66 (0) 2221 3554
Nattaphorn Ice Cream
94 Phraeng Puthon Road, Phra Nakorn
Tel. +66 (0) 2222 2686

Nattaphorn Ice Cream
94 Phraeng Puthon Road, Phra Nakorn
Tel. +66 (0) 2222 2686

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