Nang Loeng Market, located just north of Banglamphu, off Th Nakhorn Sawan, is among the city's oldest continuously operating markets. The recipient of a recently-finished makeover culminating in a fresh coat of paint, new tiles and a rather garish sign, Nang Loeng Market is hardly looking its 100+ years. However, in all honesty, the label 'market' is a bit of misnomer here. The Nang Loeng of today resembles something more of a food court than a fresh market, and the main hall is dominated not by piles of greens or still-flapping fish, but rather by stalls selling prepared dishes:
For larger version of this image, go here.
At lunch the market is packed with hungry employees from the surrounding area; come at virtually any other time and you're likely to have the entire place to yourself.
My favourite stall at Nang Loeng, and among the most popular, is a curry vendor called Ratana:
I've blogged on this stall previously, and on every consecutive visit, seem to find some unusual dish. My most recent meal revealed a bizarre soup combining pork leg and peanuts. I continue to find their slightly dry green curry (made with a spicy, but not hot-spicy, homemade curry paste) among the most delicious in town.
At virtually every stall other than Ratana, Nang Loeng epitomises old-school/central Thai flava, meaning you'll find two things in abundance: noodles and sugar. The former was present in a bowl of kuaytiaw khae, fishball noodles, from the stall pictured at the top of this post:
Despite the vendor's experience ('couple decades', I was told) and confidence-inspiring old-school stall, it turned out to be a pretty normal bowl of noodles with handmade, although underwhelming fishballs.
Sugar and noodles were present in just about everything else I consumed. They reached an almost harmonious junction in an old-school Thai dish called mee kathi:
Thin rice noodles (coloured yellow with food colouring, 'To make them look more delicious,' according to the vendor) topped with tofu, dried shrimp and a thick coconut milk-mushroom-ground pork dressing. In theory a savoury dish, but boasting enough sweetness to border on dessert, for me at least. The dish is what I imagine much of Thai food, in particular that of Bangkok and the surrounding provinces, used to taste like in the not-so-distant past. Not surprisingly, the vendor, who looked at least 70, claims to have been making this dish since she was a child. She told me that she used to use crab meat, but finds it too expensive now.
Another dish that combined sweet flavours and noodles was the hard to find kuaytiaw kaeng, 'curry noodles':
This the beef version, which also included bits of tofu and a hard-boiled egg and a thick curry broth not unlike the sweet, peanuty dipping sauce that accompanies satay.
Not surprisingly, given the emphasis on the sweet, Nang Loeng is also known for its Thai desserts, such as these photogenic sticky rice with various toppings:
And as if this wasn't enough to rot your teeth, Nang Loeng is also something of a depot for sugarcane juice:
The fresh stalks are squeezed of their juice in a dark room just outside the market, before being bottled and loaded into carts to be sold on the streets of Bangkok.
Being a fan of salty, rather than sweet flavours, I must admit that I like Nang Loeng more for its old-school atmosphere:
than its food, but it's still worth a visit if you're never been, or at not least since the renovation.
For a slideshow of the complete photoset of images, go here. For my previous writeup of the market, including a couple interesting vendors I didn't mention above, go here. And for additional blogger insights into Nang Loeng, go here and if you're willing to search around a bit, here.
Nang Loeng Market (Google Maps link) Th Nakhorn Sawan 10am-2pm, Mon-Fri