Throughout the NileGuide site, Local Experts are posting blogs about a meal a traveler can find in their city for under $5 USD. But this is Bangkok, one of the world’s powerhouses of cheap street food and I might struggle to actually get UP to $5. So let’s say here’s a classic Bangkok meal for TWO for under $5.
Pad Thai, of course. You all know it and many love it, but I was never a fan until I had it here. Pad Thai is vermicelli noodles tossed about in a hot wok with tofu, garlic, palm sugar, tamarind, lime juice and fish sauce with a bit of egg, fresh prawns, dried shrimps, bean sprouts tossed in as well. The special places will wrap it in a thinly fried omelet and maybe put a couple sprigs of coriander on top. Condiments at the table that the Thais will use are sugar, fish sauce, lime wedges and dried chili powder. Crushed roasted peanuts are also considered part of the recipe.
Pad Thai in Bangkok typically comes in under $1 a plate and is available not just in restaurants but at so many sidewalk food carts. Watching it being made is as much part of the experience as eating it at one of those little sidewalk tables with the plastic stools.
Most open-air food courts will offer it. One stand along Sukhumvit Road at the On Nut Market does the megabatches of Pad Thai and the wait can be enormous. They have a number system, thankfully. But I recommend going deep into the back of the food area where a stall with a wok can make it one order at a time and it’s much better.
The noodles are perfect, the ingredients fresh, and the taste phenomenal. Get a glass of weakly brewed Chinese iced tea to go with it for 5 baht (with refills). The Pad Thai price is a bit higher than the street version at 60 baht (there are more exotic versions here up to 150 baht with fresh crab meat!) but that still leaves a dish under $2 thus making this the yummiest cheap date experience you’re likely to find. Keep some change for a coconut ice cream in the street.