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Author: A Potato in a Rice Field
Wanderlust Travel Blog of the Year ’13
I won’t deny that 7-11 food has become a steady part of my diet since living in Bangkok. It also follows the same snacking scenario each time. Every time Fanfan leaves the home, as soon as she sets foot in the taxi, I’m already on my way to the local 7-11 for cheap snacks, big beers and maybe some moonshine (Yaa Dong). Then back-to-back TV follows as I flick through all the crap she refuses to let me watch when she’s around. So I won’t pretend to be a big fan of 7-11 food in Bangkok but it does serve a purpose as I refuse to waste these brief windows of opportunity with cooking, queuing or whatever. Unnecessary annoyances which inevitably eat into my valuable man-time. So I’m quick into the 7-11, grabbing my snack of choice, I hand it to the counter for reheating, then sprint to the fridge for big beers. Back to the checkout counter and away we go. Three minutes max as routines perfected to a tee. So on occasions it does change slightly as the 7-11 adds to their enticing array of microwaved treats and this post is to share the best of them. My Top 10 7-11 food in Bangkok. A surprisingly hard feat to accomplish. (Feel free to add your own suggestions in comments and I’ll add them in).
“Meester, Meester”, “Ham and Cheese?” The common sayings on any visit to my local 7/11. As with most skinflint expats I too had a fetish for cheese toasties, as this iconic expat snack became a staple in my diet, and integral part of many exciting adventures. However, the popularity of the Ham and Cheese Toasties doesn’t really come from its deliciousness, it’s more to do with desperation. Ham and Cheese Toasties make the safe option with 7-11 food and the ideal substitute for Thai street food for the less adventurous of eaters. This post aims to venture past the Ham and Cheese, further into other 7-11 shelves and explore a new and exciting world of 7-11 food options. Ham and Cheese is in no way the be-all and end-all of 7-11 food like many people think. Toasties alone have their options with alternatives such as Tuna Toasties or even Carbonara Toasties making worthwhile substitutes. Expect to pay 25 Baht plus for Toasties.
Hot Dogs have always been my go-to option at the 7-11… until the 7-11 ruined them. The original 7-11 hot dog came as delicious yet rubbery, reheated sausage, in a semi-fresh bun, and optional garnishing of lettuce, cucumber, mayo, mustard and ketchup. I may have put them out of business with my obsessive mustard binges. So the 7-11 have now scrapped my beloved hot dog and replaced it with a reheated packet option, all ingredients slopped together; bun, sausage and an irritatingly sweet sauce. What’s wrong with mustard? So the hot dog pictured below was bought recently while stranded in heavy rains at my local 7-11. It is also the second hot dog I bought having gifted the first to a homeless woman lying out front. I return to the 7-11 for a second helping and quickly return to share a magical Hot Dog moment together with the homeless woman… only to find her fast asleep. Either she ate super fast, bagged it for later, or just binned it. Either way, the hot dogs certainly aren’t as good as they used to be and scrapping the original hot dogs was the worst thing to happen in the Bangkok food scene since KFC dropped the Green Curry. Expect to pay 27 Baht plus.
I’m not a big fan of Wieners or frankfurters or whatever the definition is for these rubbery attempts of a sausage. They’ll never come close to the Great British sausages I was brought up on… but as far as 7-11 foods go they’re not so bad. The 7-11 bring an impressive sausage selection to its shelves but for me the best of them is the “foot long spicy”, or to scrap the pigeon English, the “spicy foot long”. A chilli infused Wiener, chopped to bites and served in a bag with choice of added ketchup or chilli sauce. Poke at them, and eat, with a skewer. If your lucky you might score some tough pieces of gristle. My sausage selection does often and will depend on the sausages set out on display, rotating in the front counter unit,dry and wrinkly and having potentially been there for days. For the best sausages you want them nuked or ‘waved’ (Thai word for microwaved) straight from the drawer and served hot and delicious. For a more intriguing Thai style sausage, try the vermicelli bite. Expect to pay 27 Baht for one foot long.
Baozi Buns are perfect for something cheap and filling. For something delicious… not so much. The problem I find with Baozi Buns is the disproportionate meat to bun ratio, where the bun easily outweighs the filling. If I were to cite a comparable western equivalent it would be the bacon sandwich where two pieces of bread are added to each side instead of one. The sandwich could be delicious but instead you have a big mouthful of bland. So the trick for eating Baozi Buns is to rip off half the bun and throw it in the bin. Then indulge on the tasty insides. So these buns are obviously Chinese influenced and the local favourite is the barbecued pork filling (Salapao Moo Daeng) which again is similar to the Cantonese Char Siu Pork buns. Worth a whirl if your looking something cheap. Expect to pay 17 Baht for a biggy and 9 baht for a small.
I won’t deny there’s an impressive range of burgers at the 7-11, but few stand out as overly eatable, and most I’ve tried have been relatively loathsome. I think this is to do with the microwaved bread buns which posed similar problems with the downfall of the new 7-11 Hot Dogs. So instead of suffering through soggy breads I decided to opt for a sticky rice burger… and have never looked back since. Sticky rice burgers are (obviously) more Thai inspired than the usual and offer many of your favourite sticky riced street food options squashed into burger form. Think Moo Ping (marinated pork) sandwiched into sticky rice, or a spicy Kaprao Moo Zaap (pork and holy basil) in a sticky rice sandwich. They work and are surprisingly filling. Note be careful after ‘waving’ as they’re hot straight from the ‘wave’. At 24 Baht they’re a sure bargain.
For me these steamed ‘meat’ dumplings come hand-in-hand with Hua Lamphong Train Station and depressing long-haul VISA run journeys. Embarking on every journey I try, and fail, to stock up on tasty journey snacks at the station’s on-site 7-11. This generally follows the same scenario. I enter the 7-11 to find food. I look down the aisles to find every inch of space filled with travellers and unwashed backpacks. There’s no way to pass, and to try I might brush against one. I don’t want that before eating. So to not risk contact with these feral animals I’m left with no other option but counter food and the closest to the door is always the shumai dumplings steamer. I quickly buy whatever, anything really, and make my exit. So the 7-11 steamed dumplings do taste eatable but I tend to drown them in soy sauce anyway. For a set of 4 dumplings they cost roughly 21 Baht.
Impress your expat friends with these worldly, fancy pants dumplings. For those new to the seductive Japanese Gyoza dumplings they are thin cased steamed dumplings filled with a mouth-watering mix of minced pork, cabbage, chives and garlic. Microwave to tasty and dip in that tarty soy and rice wine vinegar sauce. Gyoza have quickly become my replacement for 7-11 hot dogs (and mustard binges) possibly due to my obsession and addiction for Gyoza sauce, where anything soaked in it is guaranteed to be amazing (at least for me). I pierce the Gyoza dumplings then leave them to soak in the vinegar before eating. At a whopping 30 plus Baht Gyoza are in the high-end of 7-11 snacking, but are no doubt worth every single satang.
I don’t understand Ezy Choice ready meals. Within a 100 meter radius of any given 7/11 you’ll find everything that Ezy Choice have to offer, only freshly cooked and served in larger portions. Ezy Choice are little more than microwaved alternatives to all your shop house and street food favourites; fried rice, chicken rice, omelettes, minced pork with holy basil, etc.. The only benefit I can see is in the time where Ezy Choice meals are good to go in little more than a minute. Exploring this option I decide to go for something non-street food and with a more western influence. The ‘chicken spaghetti with tomato sauce’ is perfect. Verdict? Eatable; the spaghetti is spaghetti, the meat I think is meat, and the sauce is somewhat tomato-ish. I can’t say it filled me but it did an okay job trying. So this is no doubt the fancy pants option for 7-11 food in Bangkok and at a whopping 38 Baht these meals will put you well on your way to ‘Hi-So’ status.
Life has really gone downhill if you find yourself sat staring into a pot of Mama Noodles. Mama noodles are no doubt an act of desperation and are better suited to penniless students than expats. I’m not even sure if they constitute food. In reality many Thai locals have been brought up on Mama noodles, and they continue to make a staple in many’s diets. But they’re not really suitable for those brought up on rich and wholesome western diets. Living on toast maybe a better option. So in those rare moments of desperation I go with the Green Curry Mama Noodles with chewy chicken-inspired bits and to be inventive I dip pieces of bread like a Cup-a-Soup. The great thing about Mama Noodles is their versatility where they can be cooked in all sorts of ways like in Pad Mama (fried instant noodles). Alternatively you can just snack them dry from the pack like a giant, potato crisp. Expect to pay 7 Baht for packets and 12 Baht for a Pot.
If all else fails there are other Ham and Cheese alternatives, my personal favourite being the Ham and Cheese Croissant. Similar to the toastie only the cheese and ham is in a croissant. The croissant is also ‘waved’ rather than toastied. So unlike burger buns the croissant works well with the microwave resulting in a disgustingly delicious; fluffy, greasy and soggy texture. At the same price (25 Baht) as the better known toastie it is also a coin toss on which one is better. To be rebellious I tend to go for the croissant, but there are also added benefits with it, such as a quicker cooking time (20 seconds) and the exposed ham which is easier to share with my cat.