Where I grew up, there where a place where the cool kids used to hang out called “the O”. It stood for “the Original”, although to be frank I have no idea how many versions of this Pittsburgh hot dog shop had to exist in order to necessitate singling yourself out as the “original” one. It’s not like Pittsburgh is awash in hot dogs — although I do remember fondly the O’s “disco fries” (our version of the Canadian “poutine”, which does not seem like a very evocative name for these cheese-slathered, bacon-topped deep-fried potato slivers. Heaven on a plate!)
What’s that? I’m supposed to be talking about something you might be interested in? Oh yes, that’s right. This:
It’s Nang Lerng market, located in the Banglamphu area on Nakhon Sawan road. This is supposed to be the very first wet market to ever sprout up in central Bangkok. What I do know for sure is that, like all of Thailand’s wet markets, it’ a load of fun to visit and the go-to place for some pretty hard-to-find old-style delicacies, such as the glutinous pork-filled rice balls, eaten with lettuce leaves, fresh coriander and chilies — a sweetly piquant mass of satisfying goo in the mouth.
Or old-style haw mok (steamed seafood mousse in banana cups), a Portuguese-influenced concoction combining local ingredients with European technique:
Then there are the delicacies that you actually do want to eat, like coconut ice cream trad-style, in a little plastic cup and festooned with roasted peanuts.
But if you do make it over there, do not miss Roongroj, the duck noodle shop at 141,143 Nang Lerng market. A popular with politicians who send their drivers over at noon for some lunchtime takeaway, Roongroj deserves its reputation as a shop with an extensive menu, efficient service and generous portions of sweet, toothsome duck.
The choice is extensive: stewed duck, braised duck, duck in pullo (Chinese five-spice and cinnamon broth) are all there, plus stewed chicken, barbecued pork and some very nice giew (Chinese dumplings). Yes, if the duck or noodles haven’t tipped you off already — this food is Chinese. But then again, what noodle stand in Thailand ultimately isn’t?
It’s open every day, and from late morning to well into the evening, so it’s hard to miss out on getting yourself a bowl. Do yourself a favor and trek over into the old part of town; basking in the atmosphere of the “original” wet market is worth it.
(Photos by @SpecialKRB)