Thai Boat Noodles & Hainan Chicken

“Street food” is one of my favorite things to eat when traveling, but in Thailand, it’s not always served on the street. Boat noodles get their name from where it’s traditionally sold. It’s typically served in a small bowl which makes it easy to eat on the water. A few bites, a couple slurps and you’re done. These little bowls are so tasty, I instantly regret not ordering two.

I had several boat noodles throughout our stay. The best was here at Taling Chan Floating Market, just outside of Bangkok. They sell for 30 – 45 THB, about $1. Perfectly cooked rice noodles in a clear savory broth with fishcake, pork meat, and other piggy parts. Don’t try to figure out what parts. Just eat it!

Boat Noodles

The noodles are only half the dish. The other half? The condiments! Fresh chilis, pickled chilis, dried chilis, red chilis, green chilis, green onion, chili oils. Bring it on! By far one of the most memorable three bites I’ve had in my life.

Taling Chan

Something about eating next to the water, makes it taste that much better. After your first bowl (or first two), take a boat ride and tour the town.

Boat Noodles

Unlike other markets, Taling Chan isn’t as big, but you’ll save a ton of travel time and it delivers despite the size. Beside the noodles, we had mini popsicles ($0.05 each), Thai tempura veggies, handmade fruit roll ups, chicken satay, whole fried river fish, pad thai, giant prawns, and then some. It was one of the highlights of the trip, without waking up at 6am to beat the crowd. You can have breakfast (and lunch) and be back in time for a nap before the night’s Muay Thai fight.

Taling Chan

From boats in Bangkok to Chicken in Chiang Mai. First day in the Old City, we rented mopeds to explore the town. Riding in Asia is an experience in itself. Weaving in and out of traffic and near-miss collisions can be exhausting. So when we came across this place, I was happy to stop. Hainanese chicken since 1957? Say no more.

Chiang Mai Hainan Chicken

No need for a menu. The sign says it all–Hainanese Chicken, Pork Satay, and Crispy Fried Chicken/Pork. That’s it. I love restaurants like this. They know who they are and they do it well.

Fresh chickens and serious knife work can be seen from the street.

Thai Chicken

The first time I heard of Hainanese Chicken was on No Reservations, when Anthony Bourdain was booed off stage by a Singapore audience. They were disappointed he hadn’t tried it since landing in the country. If this could get Bourdain booed off stage, it must be good!

The Singapore version of Chicken Rice is the most famous, but this is how Thailand does it. This no frills dish doesn’t look like much, but as they say, never judge a chicken…

Hainan Chicken

Large white meat pieces of chicken–moist, tender and taste like what you imagine every chicken should. The plate in the back looks like white rice, but it’s much more. It’s actually what the dish is all about. It’s aromatic with garlic and the essence of chicken. Now add a bowl of warm chicken soup. Soothing and makes you want to take a nap…but you can’t…’cause you can’t stop eating!

If that wasn’t enough chicken, have some blood cake. It’s not the first thing I put on my fork, but a little with the chicken was actually nice; like jello with a deep earthy, chicken flavor. I know. But, I’m glad it was there. Having just a bit added a little something extra, and it’s not really Asia without a little blood cake or organ meat here and there.

What’s that? Not enough chicken? Order the other house specialty, fried chicken. The best chicken katsu I ever had. Extra crunchy with the perfect ratio of crust to meat. L&L got nothing on this! No katsu sauce, but the ginger, garlic, chili sauce was perfect for both chickens.

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This may seem like chicken overload, but the combination of textures keep it interesting to the last bite. We inhaled our platter ($4 with drinks), then back on the road. Don’t forget your helmet!

Want to try for yourself? Follow this post to get a Taste of Thailand in Hawaii.

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