It’s taken a while to edit, but this week’s Bangkok Fatty youtube episode is among the first few days of shooting. In it, I let the camera follow me into the market is tunnel-like and straddles on one side by the khlong (a Bangkok canal), and on the other by the large green municipal office. The market is shielded by umbrellas and often with little activity happening outside the market, you could easily by pass it for a random alley.
Inside the narrow market people are friendly, managing stalls ranging from your run of the mill wet market fishmongers, to hot spots for certain types of curry paste (massaman, gaeng som, etc…), to makeshift convenience store type stalls with a little of everything. If you’re squeamish about the Thai fresh market’s bloody butchery sections Thewet, while still not as tame as Or Tor Kor, shouldn’t scare you too badly. That is, of course, as long as you don’t mind the fresh fish trying to hop out of their containers and into your lap. Visit Thewet after Or Tor Kor, as you build your way up to the more intimidating wet markets like Khlong Toey.
So finding it is half the joy. I’d say get yourself in the area, because like many markets the closer you get, the more cheap, delicious food to be found as you zero in on the exact location. This is true of Thewet, and I’d venture to suggest the vendors outside the market are even more of an attraction, with their overflowing trolleys of fried bananas, sweet drinks, fried fish, and other great snacks to grab as you pass by. You can guess that many of the items you spotted in the fresh market, are in their prepared form and being catered to you by the street vender lining the streets.
Sidenote: If you saw the youtube video of supermodel Jordan Dunn visiting Thailand, this is the same market she visits. However, if you notice besides a few shots of her walking in slow motion, there isn’t a terribly lot to see in the market. Fresh fish and a few strange things, but if you’re new to Thailand this can all be a lot of fun.
However, street food isn’t the only attraction. There are also a large number of restaurants in the vicinity. There’s Pad Thai Thewet (prefered by locals than the more popular Thipsamai), the air-conditioned Ton Hom Pak Chee (ต้นหอม ผักชี) restaurant on the corner, and too many Chinese-Thai noodle shops for one guy to attempt to conquer on his own. Not that any of those would have been bad options, but I ventured to walk about 10 minutes north of the area down Samsen Road past large temples, the National Library, and part of a large University.
National Geographic Traveller on Krua Apsorn Restaurant:
This is one of the best sit-down venues in a city where indigenous food is generally served on the street.
Bangkok Fatty on Quotes from the National Geographic Traveller:
The purest of indigenous bullshit.
This is where we find the simple location of Krua Apsorn. The place is buzzing as always. I vaguely remember visiting here more than eight years ago, with teachers and staff from the school on Chitralada palace grounds. The place is still popular with the same crowd of mostly older ladies and bosses bringing their staff in for lunch. When I arrived for an early lunch, there was a long table and a few smaller tables already reserved. I hope that gives you an idea of the type of local popularity this restaurant has for serving central Thai comfort food. There are a few publications who’ve reviewed the restaurant and kind of overblown it as one of the top spots to eat in Bangkok. I think this creates expectations for visitors that the restaurant can never really live up to. Despite the hype, they do serve some damn delicious stuff and are popular for their crab dishes, most famously their crab omelette (ไข่เจียวปู, 90 baht), crab meat stir fry (เนื้อปูพริกเหลือง, 400 baht), and rich crab curry (ปูผัดผงกะหรี่, 400 baht).
If you’re not expecting the yellow curry of Thai restaurant abroad, you may even enjoy an adventure in spice by trying Krua Apsorn’s gaeng leung (แกงเหลืองไหลบัว). The popular dish reads, “yellow curry with prawns and lotus shoot” from the menu (130 baht), but when foreigners expecting the creamy yellow Thai coconut curry they’re familiar with are in for a shock. Instead, Krua Apsorn serves up a spicy, Central Thai variant of a Southern Thai curry. There’s no coconut milk, leaving the curry much less viscous and about ten times as spicy and sour than what you’d expect. Thais rave about the dish because it’s like coming home to grandma’s cooking, and while hot isn’t nearly as unbearable as the southern cousins of the dish.
Krua Apsorn’s miang kana (a variation of miang kam, served with spinach leaves instead wild betel leaves, 120 baht) is tasty, but not as much as the original miang kam. Their fried sea bass, an often overlooked item, is delicious and arrives covered in fresh garlic and chili (340 – 380 baht).
Thewet Market (ตลาดเทเวศร์) Location and Hours
Directions: Find the intersection of Samsen and Krungkasem roads in the old Dusit area of Bangkok. This is called Thewet intersection and if you cross the bridge over the canal towards Luk Luang Street, you’ll find Thewet Market directly opposite the street.
Hours: Early morning to early afternoon.
Note: The google map location is wrong. Also google says the market is permanently closed, this is also wrong.
Krua Apsorn (ร้านครัวอัปษร) Location and Hours
Specialty: Affordable Homestyle Central Thai Recipes
Directions: Find Krua Apsorn on a quiet stretch of Samsen Road, just beyond Suan Rajabhat University. The restaurant has a plan wooden paneled exterior with large windows allowing you to peer in. There are no restaurants in the immediate area that are as well known, so you can easily ask someone to point you in the right direction.
Hours: 10:30am – 8pm
Facebook: Krua Apsorn (Thai language)
Note: The details above are for the location in Dusit on Samsen Road. There are a few other locations including on Dinsor and Kanchanapisek roads.