Most tourists who have enjoyed Thai food in their home countries are eager to try local dishes when they are on holiday in Thailand. Eating in a local restaurant can give you a real taste of Thai fare. If you visit Bangkok and want to go to a good Thai restaurant that does not modify their recipes to please tourists and is popular and affordable to most Bangkokians with average income, here are a few rules that locals observe when finding a place to eat.
Generally, a good restaurant is judged by a number of local crowds. In Bangkok, if you see a lot of Thai customers in a restaurant, it could mean their food are well accepted by local people. This may not always be true if you happen to be there during lunch time when most restaurants are packed. Indeed, a continuing flow of customers in and out of the restaurants during off-peak hours is a positive indicator that they serve good food.
One way to spot a good restaurant is to look for some verification. The restaurants that receive good reviews from food critics and local TV shows will be proud to show accolades, in form of banners, plagues and stickers, in front of their shops. (See picture below)
Another way to observe local eateries with inexpensive food is its location. Fortunately, many of them are often clustered together along the streets in one convenient location. Some tourist areas such as China Town (Yaowarat), the Grand Palace, the Democracy Monument and Charoen Krung Road along the Chao Phraya river are known for delicious, authentic Thai and Chinese food. Many restaurants here specialize in certain dishes with their own secret family recipes. They usually have a few menus and serve only specialty food such as Chinese barbecue and crispy pork (Khao Moo Deang), steamed chicken with rice (Khao Man Gai), roasted duck (Khao Na Ped), Phad Thai, pork leg stew (Khao Ka Moo), fermented rich noodle in curry and a variety of noodle dishes. These restaurants may look old and have simple decoration such as aluminum tables, plastic chairs, a wooden glass cabinet for food display, a big menu on a wall and a poster of Coca Cola.
Depending on the dishes you order, the cost of a good meal at these restaurants are between 75 and 120 Baht/ person ( 2.5 to 4 USD), including a main dish and a drink.
Unfortunately, many restaurants like this do not have English menu and the staff may not speak English. That’s probably the reason why you do not often see tourists in these eateries. But it should not deter you from trying something new if you want to add a thrill to your trip. It is useful to get one of small English / Thai dictionaries for tourists. Some restaurants have photos of the dishes in the menu or on the wall. You may ask about a kind of meat in the dish and pick the one that appeals to you . Since the food in these restaurants is cheap, you would not be too disappointed if you don’t like it. It can be a fun experience. Who knows? You may discover your new favorite Thai dish to write home about.