Bangkok street food

Sep 19th, 2009, 06:51 AM
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Ok let me add a few points to the discussion:
1) Locals eat and don't get sick- well their systems are used to the bacteria- tourist stomachs are not.
2) Where do these stall owners go to the bathroom to do their business and do you think they have hot water to wash their hands afterwards?
3) Do they have hot water to wash their utensils?
4) Yes of course you can get sick at restaurants and hotels- that applies anywhere in the world even at home where ever home is but do you really think your chances are better with a street stall for all the issues mentioned above?
5) Bob makes the best point- do you want to roll the dice on your vacation by taking a chance on these places?
BillT is offline  
Sep 19th, 2009, 07:14 AM
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Hot water is such a miracle. That's why no American ever gets sick.

Have you ever looked at the food poisoning statistics for the various countries of the world, BillT?
kerouac is online now  
Sep 19th, 2009, 09:03 AM
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you cannot win either argument... those of us who play it safe and those of you who roll the dice...

personally i'll stick with bill and continue to eat in places where i feel they have the best hygiene and that is not on the streets, although i am sure many street places are perfectly ok...

its sort of like the argument of people who want to see the "real thailand"... i never know what that all seems like the real thailand to me, whether it be a nana club on soi 4, sukhumvit, soi cowboy, or the wilds of an national park in the far reaches of the country....ITS ALL THE REAL THAILAND... i love the most touristy areas just as much as i love the most far flung quiet area.... its all thailand today and that is why we love it and return over and over----trip 13 is only 7 weeks away...
rhkkmk is offline  
Sep 19th, 2009, 12:30 PM
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rhkkmk: You've taken 12 trip to Thailand and have never, ever eaten street food? How about the "street food restaurant" type thing I mentioned above?

Just asking because as you know so well, street food is everywhere and you've been to Thailand so many times.

12 trips is pretty impressive, really. That's a huge number.

Do you live in Malaysia? Sorry joking. Boston is a long trip to Thailand, I'll be you could write a book about jet lag.

Sorry, I did not do any research... From Boston, do you fly to Europe or suffer through the extra hours to Tokyo?

What routes and airlines have you taken?

All things are local, but, even right here in the states, if you hang out at the Four Seasons, Peninsula and Waldorf Astoria your getting a thin slice of the states, that few locals or anyone ever experience.

A thin slice that, while never replicated, is often duplicated in major cities around the world.

Not saying this applies to you, rhkkmk.. just saying my opinion... generally.
karenmike is offline  
Sep 19th, 2009, 01:20 PM
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I'm a Thai and I take precaution over what I eat, especially street food. Myself and many others do occasionally spend a night or two at the hospital from food poisoning and most of the time it was from street food.

The advice given by the regulars here should be heeded and one should always use good judgment in determining if the street food vendor is practicing proper cooking and hygiene. Another thing to watch out for is the reusing of cooking oil which I believe is a carcinogen.

Do enjoy street food but use good judgment and don't blame anyone if you end up with the runs!

FYI karenmike,

I've taken rhkkmk out for street food before, to a well known vendor, and they thoroughly enjoyed the food.
Hanuman is offline  
Sep 19th, 2009, 01:50 PM
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This has been an interesting discussion for me as a Thai food beginner. I can't imagine street food is actually very different from what you eat in the small bars and cafes, and we thought Kinnaree (the spicier dishes) was excellent. Back in the UK, Thai restaurant offerings are pretty disappointing.
tarquin is offline  
Sep 19th, 2009, 08:12 PM
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most of my trips have been on northwest going west....but the best trip we ever did was on air france going east....i did thai only once from nyc going west and that was good...shortly i will try singapore going east through frankfurt...

the place hanuman took me to was a unique restaurant...personally i would not consider it street food and certainly the food items were not your usual street food..

i would not drink drinks out of plastic bags, even though i think they may be ok if they don't have ice cubes...

i did eat a coconut tart at the floating market, but honestly i was not thrilled to do tasted very good, but i was concerned about the oil it was cooked in...

we are all different...this is just my way of insuring that i can enjoy each moment of my trip.....add to that my wife is a nurse...
rhkkmk is offline  
Sep 20th, 2009, 08:45 AM
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One could say that all events in life have a 50-50 chance of happening. They either happen or they don't.

rhklmk, thanks for sharing and your honesty. You are an experienced traveler and I admire that you know what works for you.

In our case, drinking Pepsi out of a bouncing bag full of ice is enough to get us on an airplane.

Despite frequent efforts, we’ve never been able to duplicate that perfect diluted Pepsi flavor here in the states. Maybe it’s the heat, the sounds and the smells in Thailand or that we can’t tie a rubber band to a plastic bag properly… Oh, I know the problem… you’ll never find us drinking “regular” sugar colas in the states – Oh boy, got to love the perks when traveling.

Ice in Thailand is made with filter water. After scrubbing the pots to a mirror shine, Thais have more than enough sense not to put tap water into their bodies.

Besides, the air we breathe over a two week trip is the scary part.

On the face of it, it’s seems reasonable that people are afraid to eat Thai street food because they consider something that comes from the street to be of lower quality and/or not as hygienic as “building food”.

The above has to be true, because if peopled believed that street food was of higher quality, how could they possible pass up that meal? Higher quality but gets me sick? That does not compute!

But in reality, people are not eating street food because it’s not a common practice in their country, it’s not what they are used to, what they see and participate in everyday, therefore, not eating street food speaks more to the way people travel (for example: a mild case of xenophobia it you will) than actual facts.

When travelers don’t take part in something that is so quintessentially a part of a country, so essentially a part of all segments of Thai life, and so ubiquitous in nature... that is...

Simply put: Not eating street food in Thailand is basically missing out on the heart of the country – or should I say stomach?

We all know that Thais are great cooks.

Imagine this... People in Italy, France and Spain, dragging the best cooks in their families out on to the street and having them cook popular dishes for you, because that’s what’s happening in Thailand, home cooked meals on the street.

One dish, all or nothing.

Even though Thais are great cooks, you can be sure, with street food stalls plopped down shoulder to shoulder everywhere, that cooks face a challenge for business and personal satisfaction, to know that that people like your food “best”. So, in a situation like that, we all win. Yummy!

Having written ALL that… We’d have to say, “building food” is quite good also.

Yes, much of Thai street food is the “usual” eclectic fare (although the flavors vary widely). Nevertheless, if you look hard enough, especially outside Bangkok, you’ll find some special dishes. Get there early, because they run out fast.

If the street food is not as "tasty" it usually sells a bit cheaper. Not that it’s “dirty” food, but, prepared with less ingredients or TLC (time). There is a market for this “cheaper” street food, because not everyone has the “big bucks” but everybody eats some of their meals off the street.
karenmike is offline  
Sep 20th, 2009, 09:37 AM
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Many times have I had Thai iced tea or other sweet drinks out of a plastic bag when in Thailand. You're really missing out, Bob!
Mango7 is offline  
Sep 20th, 2009, 03:41 PM
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This is way over the top, but bear with me, this took some effort. We did a “thing” comparing street food to “building food” at Port Blair, Andaman Islands and Nicobar Islands, India.,17.885742&z=6

NOT Thailand, but... we made several points, claiming that street food was “safer” because street vendors sell only one item, prepare it simply and when it’s gone, they go home with nothing left to store.

The photos below are video grabs and we can’t find the street food part now, but one highlight of the street food “Samosa Man” was using fresh oil each day, something I think this restaurant did not do.

Nice looking “building restaurant” in Port Blair, Andaman Islands, India

With delicious food

Delicious food that came out of this kitchen

With a large menu, "building restaurants" have to store food.

Cutting Board

Kitchen Prep Table

Shrimp Cleaning

Shrimp Tandoori

Shrimp Floor Corner

Despite these horrid photos, we ate at this restaurant several times. The food was GREAT!
karenmike is offline  
Sep 20th, 2009, 05:34 PM
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i believe you.....but street food is not the "real thailand"...the real thailand is royal thai food, eaten only by the royal there you are, again i am missing out...

i'll continue to take a pass...

be my guest, eat and enjoy---i'm sure the taste is fantastic, but don't forget your kleenex...
rhkkmk is offline  
Sep 20th, 2009, 05:58 PM
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I'm confused by your first paragraph, Bob. Are u serious, lol?
Mango7 is offline  
Sep 20th, 2009, 08:46 PM
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Great photos, karenmike! I know all about those kinds of restaurants and it's best not to see the kitchen. I agree that street food is much more hygenic compared to establishments like that -- where I would eat as well without hesitation.
kerouac is online now  
Sep 21st, 2009, 06:59 AM
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I don't believe you
hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Sep 22nd, 2009, 12:29 AM
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If you think about how you actually get food poisoning you will be a lot less fearful of street-food.
khunwilko is offline  
Sep 22nd, 2009, 06:58 AM
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Food poisoning is a general term that usually refers to bacterial or viral contamination of food resulting in both upper and lower gastrointenstinal symptoms. It is caused by lapses in sanitation, often related to hand-washing by food handlers. The most common bacterial "food poisoning" is caused by e. coli. Given this info, it should be clear that having sanitary toilet and hand-washing facilities are important in preventing this type of food poisoning.

Another type of food poisoning is caused by growth of bacteria in foods that have not been kept at temperature that retard bacterial growth (not properly chilled) or kill bacteria (not properly cooked). This is a especially a problem in buffet situations.

One should also consider other food and water bourne illnesses, in particular Hep A and typhoid.
Kathie is offline  
Sep 22nd, 2009, 08:51 AM
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Since the Bangkok street food is mostly served hot off the grill after being cooked in front of you, bacterial contamination is a low risk.
kerouac is online now  
Sep 22nd, 2009, 09:13 AM
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I'm with Bob- but I understand others who would like to enjoy the street food- its just that I don't like to take that chance on my vacation. For those I say - enjoy but make sure you have your Pepto Bismal ready.... just in case!
BillT is offline  
Sep 22nd, 2009, 09:37 AM
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Errr... I don't think that Pepto Bismol is meant for food poisoning. It is for people who have found the street food so good that they couldn't stop stuffing themselves with it.
kerouac is online now  
Sep 22nd, 2009, 09:43 AM
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Don't block it just let it flow out!
Hanuman is offline  

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