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street food worth the risk?

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21. Posted by wildfk (Respected Member 454 posts) 8y

THailand is NOT the same as India...if you eat street food in THailand you are comparitively safe...if you eat Western food you run the risk of a hearty dose of food poisoning.
Avoid fast food chains and hotel buffets like the plague!

One of the best things about Thailand is it’s impossible to be more than a couple of metres away from some delicious food…everywhere you look there is some stall, cart or a cluster of plastic stools on the sidewalk and someone is selling noodles, soft drinks or kebabs.
No trip to Thailand is complete without sampling the street food. Unlike many other countries it really is quite safe….why this should be I can only hazard a guess, the food is prepared, cooked and then reheated on sale, a high turnover ensures there is little time for bacteria to culture.

Those of you who saw the comedy “The trouble with Mary” may recall a scene where the lead actors bemoan the fact that there is not enough “meat no a stick” …they should come to Thailand; everything is stuck on a stick…spicy Issan sausages, chicken livers, chicken satay, fish balls, and other dumpling-like savouries, eggs, squid, fish…the list is endless.
Whether sweet or savoury the food is delicious and cheap…usually about 20 baht a throw.

My favourite? “Pok-Pok - Som tam thai, a spicy papaya salad made with peanuts and dried shrimps., you will see someone bashing away with a pestle and mortar, then they are most likely making some form of Som Tam, or “pok-pok” as it is called referring to the sound made by the mortar and pestle. It comes in various forms and can be extremely spicy so beware. Another favourite of mine is chicken liver on a stick….my least favourite? - Malaeng or maeng - crispy fried insects…I still can’t bring myself to eat these, but with so many other choices, who needs to?

In Pattaya itself there are street stalls everywhere, near the bottom of Soi8 at the entrance to the old immigration office is a great stall for kebabs, he also sells BBQ’d sticky rice - mmmm!
On the lane that links Soi 7 and 8 there is a lady who has about 3 tables set Along the side of the road, she does fantastic Thai curries and salt egg salad…what’s on offer depends on what she’s got. I think it’s a family thing, they never seem to close I had a great meal there once at about 4 or 5 in the morning. They even have a small English Language menu on the wall now.
On Central road make sure you visit the sweet mango and sticky coconut rice stalls situated about half way between 2nd and 3rd roads. 50 baht will buy you a Styrofoam boxful of heaven.
If you venture to Soi BuaKhao market, be sure to visit the duck noodle stall by the Seven-Eleven on South Pattaya Rd…it attracts scores of people ho sit at tin tables eating the duck noodle soup sat on plastic chairs. The drinking water is free. Strangely enough, noodle soup is about the only thing Thais eat with chopsticks (and a spoon) I guess because of its Chinese origins. Any of the noodle stalls offer great value, with pork, chicken or Beef mixed into various kinds of noodles. You can have it as soup or “dry” too!

For the budget traveller these sort of places are a boon…you can eat well here for about 3 dollars a day!

22. Posted by skv (Inactive 9 posts) 8y

Street Food as most of you also have written is not always bad. Am from Mumbai and have travelled extensively in India. Mumbai has some of the best street food - from vada pav (fried potato patties in bread) for as cheap as Rs.5 (10 cents) to dosa and idli (steamed rice cakes) for Rs. 25 (approx half a dollar). Also the momos in Darjeeling with the yummiest pepper garlic sauce are to die for as are samosas and jalebis and kebabs in north india. I have to admit the best food is off the streets provided cooked in front of your eyes and depending on how long the street vendors have been at that location.

In mumbai several residents opt for street food from particular vendors that they've ben eating at for several years cos these vendors have got a reputation for excellent taste and superb hygiene.

In fact i was shocked when i went to hong kong to find that a popular american fast food chain served me a burger in which the chicken was raw and clammy on the inside.. So i guess it does take all kinds.. Wish you all bon apetit for many delicious moments...

23. Posted by Daveholmes (Budding Member 16 posts) 8y

I travelled India for 4 months and ate street food at every chance. To be honest I can't see it being anymore risky that the food prepared in the restaurants/food shacks. When in one Cafe/food place I asked to use the toilet and it was a hole in the floor in the corner of the kitchen! just a hole in the floor!.
I met people who were really worried about getting sick and wouldn’t eat at some places, this is fair enough but limits your travelling.
Needless to say I came back with Salmonella...

24. Posted by boreal2673 (Respected Member 345 posts) 8y

I guess I can't be the best judge because I never got sick (thankfully) but I have eaten street food all around Bangkok without a problem. On a recent trip to Peru I was eating some chicken from the street and little did I know it was half raw. The best part was that it happened about 6 hour prior to my flight back the states. Needless to say I didn't sick. Just be smart about where you eat if you choose to. Eat where there is a crowd.

25. Posted by nicolson (Budding Member 42 posts) 8y

I've never had a problem with Bangkok street food either. In fact I think at times the street food tastes better then the ones in the restaurant!

26. Posted by rfrat13 (Budding Member 2 posts) 8y

Street vendors are a way of life in Asia. If you don't eat it, you really do miss out on some amazing foods! BUT know what your limits are and how much your stomach can handle. Take a look at the food itself and the person cooking it. Another great tip, if there are lots of locals eating there, it's definately good!

27. Posted by jennygro (Full Member 119 posts) 8y

Is there any foods that you should not eat in south east asia? i know a lot of books say you should never eat shellfish, or red meat. I met a guy in india who got really sick from eating a lamb burger....but when did anyone ever see sheep in india? i know i never did!

28. Posted by wildfk (Respected Member 454 posts) 8y

It'really just a matter of common sense and looking around a bit. Lamb is regarded as disgusting in Thailand although most people have never eaten it...but you're right you don't see alot about or cattle for that matter...so the meat has been imported and frozen and thwed and refrozen etc wetc so it's very likely to have a good healthy colony of bacteria living on it.
I've said it before and I'll say it again you're much more at risk trying to stick to a Western diet than eating the local food in Thailand.

29. Posted by Laura_B (Respected Member 352 posts) 8y

Quoting jennygro

Is there any foods that you should not eat in south east asia? i know a lot of books say you should never eat shellfish, or red meat. I met a guy in india who got really sick from eating a lamb burger....but when did anyone ever see sheep in india? i know i never did!

Books advise against ice, shellfish, unpeeled fruit, salad, shellfish etc. I never took any notice of what books said, if food looked fresh, smelled ok & people were eating it, I would eat it too.

There is also this dish I ate in Lao called lap Lao (I think?) which I found out after is almost raw mince & is quite risky to eat. I didn't have any problems with it, I was unaware that it was unadvisable to eat at the time. Sometimes it's best to be unaware of what you're eating, risky maybe, but sometimes that's how you get to sample some of the best food in Asia.

30. Posted by wi123 (Budding Member 5 posts) 8y

A pc of advise. You come to Asia, the food is the destination.
And most tasty food are not in restaurants (but some are), you juz need a local to point you out whr to eat. If not, the easy way out..McD McD McD.....