Thai cuisine: A culinary tour of Bangkok

The bustling streets of Bangkok offer delights for gourmet lovers at every street corner. So hop off your flight, drop the bags at the hotel and take your taste-buds round the city on a culinary tour.

Just remember, Thai cuisine in Thailand is very different to the Thai food available in the UK, so shed any preconceptions!

To acclimatise your taste-buds, seek out some gaeng som soup. It is thick and rich, based on a strong fish-stock flavoured with tamarind and palm sugar, and full of large shrimps and chopped vegetables. Tamarind juice gives the soup a sour flavour.

Noodles are the staple of Thai street-food. The most popular varieties include Sen Yai, a broad rice noodle, and Sen Lek, the flat noodle commonly found in Pad Thai dishes. On many stalls in Bangkok you have to decide whether you want your noodles served naam (in broth) or haeng (dry, usually with meat). Both are delicious, so try to come again for the one you missed the first time.

For a variant on soft noodle dishes try the excellent mee krob, an unusual mixture of crunchy wok-fried noodles with an aromatic sweet and sour shrimp sauce made with tamarinds, limes and the usual palm sugar. This dish highlights the importance of texture in Thai cuisine.

Street-food experts add just the right combination of condiments. Most stalls in Bangkok offer the usual flavours: dried chilli, sugar, spiced vinegar, fish sauce and ground peanuts. You’ll learn your favourites through trial and error, so have fun experimenting. Watch out for that chilli - it's hot!

Those with a sweet tooth should make a pilgrimage to the Saochingcha area of Bangkok and track down the famous but tiny Nattaporn Ice Cream stand, which has been in business for more than 60 years. Their coconut ice-cream is the speciality, enlivened with exotic toppings like red bean, peanut, taro or lotus seed - a Thai cuisine twist on a classic treat.

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