Ratchawat Market is located in a secluded corner of the Dusit area of Bangkok, not far from the royal palace. I had read about it in The Nation, which described it as a good food destination, and I decided to pay a visit. The market itself is rather dark and unattractive:
although there were some friendly ladies selling sweets by the entrance:
Much more interesting things can be found along Thanon Nakhorn Chaisii, the main road leading to the market. Here you'll find heaps of vendors selling fresh produce, such as these bitter gourds:
as well as prepared foods, such as grilled meat:
curries to be eaten with khanom jeen, fermented rice noodles:
muu khua kling, a southern Thai dish of pork "dry" fried with curry paste, served here with mad amounts of green peppercorns and kaffir lime leaf:
chao kuay, "grass jelly", a kind of dessert:
grilled and deep-fried fish:
including plaa som:
This is fish that has been stuffed with rice and basically left to rot. After a few days the fish obtains a wonderful sour taste. It is then typically deep-fried and served with sliced shallots, chilies and a squeeze of lime. Delish.
Ratchawat Market is near the imposing Excise Department, which means lots of hungry people at lunch time. The numerous small restaurants serving these people turned out to be the strength of this particular market area, and there were some interesting options. I started with a dish of phat thai at one of those hole-in-the-wall restaurants that look like they've been serving the same thing for fifty years. Unfortunately I came at a bad time, and they were in the middle of frying up a massive take-away order of phat thai:
I waited patiently, and finally got my dish from somewhere in the belly of that beastly pile of noodles:
Not surprisingly, it was mediocre. Much better was kwaytiao lawt from this streetside stall:
Kwaytiao lawt refers to the wide rice noodles used in this dish, which are topped with, among other things, Chinese pork sausage, tofu, barbecued pork and a sweetish soy sauce:
Really, really good. And continuing on the noodle theme I finished with yen ta fo, the one noodle dish that people in Bangkok can't seem to get enough of:
Those familiar with this ubiquitous dish might notice that something looks a bit different here. I think this was more of an old-school yen ta fo, and went light on the various fishballs and heavy on the more unusual pickled squid (!) and pickled jellyfish (!!). The broth was great, but there were a lot of strange bits and bobs left in my bowl...
So, I encourage a visit here, but don't feel bad if you give the actual market a miss. Come just before lunchtime, when the nosh is ready, but the hordes of hungry government employees have yet to arrive, and try something new.