Yesterday was the last day of the annual Vegetarian Festival, whose yellow flags swallowed the city for a week or so. I didn’t divert far from my meat eating ways, but did have a few chances to take friends from TBEX (Travel Bloggers Exchange) to eat super local street food. Since the festival was happening, one of my favorite stalls Kow Gaeng Jay Moui (ข้าวแกงเจ้ม่วย) had converted into a vegetarian stall for the event. Look below and I’ll share some photos from the stall both when it’s vegetarian (if you need more vegan and vegetarian food get the guide here) and non-veg and a map on how to get there.
After the first day of TBEX events I led blogger friends on a street food tour to Pai Singto road (ซอยไผ่สิงห์โต) and followed a winding side street until it met Soi Setti Thawi Sap 2 (เศรษฐีทวีทรัพย์ 2). There on the long street locals in the area, both living near the khlong toey market side of the road and the back end of Sukhumvit sois 16, 22, and 24 come to congregate buying and selling food. Of them, the cafeteria style family restaurant Kow Gaeng Jay Moui is probably the most popular on the street.
There every afternoon the family puts out trays of the days selected dishes. There’s always a variety including 3 giant soup pots, a selection of nam prik chili pastes (usually at least one stinky and one tamarind based sweet paste), some fried or steamed fish if you’re there in time, and probably 6-8 stir fried dishes.
Doesn’t that sound a look like a ton of food?!
Actually it takes so long to make and sells so quickly, the restaurant usually only needs to sell from about 3pm to 7pm. At one time I went here so often during that time, that I begin referring to their stall as the The Afterschool Special. And sure enough once school is out, kids are grabbed and they come congregating around the stall, while other passing through pull up on their motorbikes, as if the stall was a drive through restaurant.
When I saw this I thought to myself…
Now THIS is how Thais do fast food!
During the vegetarian festival we stopped in a group of about 6 people and fed everyone for about 400 baht or $10. If you do the math, that’s less than $2-$3 each. When you understand the economics of quality, hot food then you begin to see why many locals can forego having kitchens or how they feed a large family without spending tons of time slaving in the kitchen or their entire monthly budget on food.
Kow gaeng, aka this cafeteria style fast food is the answer! Now it doesn’t always look pretty. It’s also important to find a busy stall or one where you know they’ve just finished cooking the food before putting it out. But if you can get over the cafeteria look and the instagram followers you’ll surely lose from posting it, then you’ve just have to try it. If you have a big appetite you can try a selection of dishes, take some home, and know that when you come back the next day all of the dishes will be new. Eat kow gaeng everyday for a week, keep track of what you ate, and pretty soon you’ll become a pro at identifying those dishes that probably turned you away when you first saw them.
I’ll tell you how to find this stellar street food stall, but there are plenty around the city. If you’re staying in Bangkok for any extended period, you’d be wise to find one in your neighborhood. And if you ever go to this one, remember there’s a small table to the side of the restaurant where you can sit with locals and watch the crowd, many of them the hungry neighbors, come and go.
The area is little known to outsiders, but is very friendly. Occasionally a stray foreigner wonders through the soi looking for a cheap lunch. The majority of them living in the nearby condo Monterey Place (one of the larger buildings in the area). They are only open on the weekdays and don’t be too bummed if you arrive at 7pm or later and the majority of this delicious homestyle Thai food has sold out. The good news if that happens is there are plenty of other tasty things to eat on this hidden little street. If you need another khao gaeng suggestion try to catch people near Chinatown lining up for Kow Gaeng Jake Poey.
Khao Gaeng Jay Moui ข้าวแกงเจ๊หม่วย
Directions: Exit Queen Sirkit Station going towards Pai Singto Rd. Navigate down the winding road using the map below until you find Soi Setti Thawi Sap 2 (เศรษฐีทวีทรัพย์ 2). Should be plenty happening on this narrow street. Alternatively you can take a motorbike from the even numbered Sukhumvit sois between Asoke and Phrom Phong.
Hours: Weekdays, 3pm-7pm
Price: Less than 100 baht per person
Foursquare: ข้าวแกงเจ๊หม่วย Kow Gaeng Jay Moui (I created this, just incase you need an interactive map or to see more photos)
Note: There isn’t any signage or real name to the restaurant. Jay Moui is the name of the main woman running the place. Her husband speaks a lot of English and can help you identify dishes you may not know.