Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Gourmet Markets in Bangkok

There is no other country in the world where fresh fruits are sold as much as streets foods are. It’s one of the reasons it’s easy for visitors to stay healthy but if you are staying longer and would rather buy your fruits and prepare it yourself, you will be happy to find out that it is easy to find wet markets in Thailand – the huge Khlong Toei simmers in the southern part of Bangkok by the river and Huai Kwang simmers in Ratchada. For those with a more orderly frame of mind, Or Tor Kor is the ideal destination in the north.

Or Tor Kor (pronounced Aw Taw Kaw) is run by a famer’s marketing association and the well-managed space and operating conditions have led to a unique space being created within Bangkok. It’s a quintessential fresh food market and meat is butchered, fish are cleaned and fruit and veg are peeled and cored out in the open. The produce is stacked into pyramids but the lighting is good and the building is clean. It has been, since its establishment, a more upmarket venue than the others on offer in Bangkok and has become noted for the top quality fruit sold here.

The prices reflect the upmarket conditions making Khlong Toei the less expensive option but you can’t beat Or Tor Kor for quality, freshness and variety. You can find a lot of cooked food as well and can sample some excellent Thai sweets such as khanom krok – puddings made with coconut mik that are caramelised on the outside and smooth on the tongue on the inside or khao taen which resemble rice cakes that are on offer at your local health food store with one important difference – these have been drizzled with caramelised palm sugar and are a delectable sweet.

Towards the rear of the market is a food court that unfortunately doesn’t have enough tables to cater for those having lunch there but despite this you should still get your hands on some skewers of grilled meat to munch on while choosing your second course. You won’t go wrong with the kway tieow ped – duck broth soup, thickened a little with blood (don’t let that put you off) and served chock full of fat rice noodles and finished off with sliced duck breast and braised leg of duck. There are any number of desserts available and coconut seems to be a firm favourite on the menu – There is a stand in the middle of the market called Khanom Thai Khao Pee Nong which has piles of just about every possible recipe of coconut and palm sugar known to man.

Or Tor Kor is a firm favourite with two of Thailand’s good food writers – Look out for Leela’s Memories of Or Tor Kor and the gorgeous photos of the market by Austin Bush.  Or Tor Kor Market is open daily from 08:00-20:00, but most lively on the weekends.

You may get there through the MRT. From the Kampheng Phet Station, take the exit marked Marketing Association of Farmers which will put you directly in front of the market. It is across the street (and about a five-minute walk) from Chatuchak Market.

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