Back in 2004 I actually lived in this area held up in a run-down apartment block on Sukhumvit 36. My accommodation at the time was so depressing we nicknamed it “The Jail” and each night I’d return to my studio room with the theme song of ‘Prisoner Cell Block H’ in my head. But what made this slightly depressing lifestyle back then worthwhile was my local slice of street food paradise found on the Sukhumvit 38 Street Food street. Easily one, if not the best, street food areas in Sukhumvit. Now that I live a good two skytrain stops away I have failed to venture back or at least this was until recently. Earlier this week I return for some long overdue nostalgia, making the most of curfew hours in a moonshine fueled adventure. Peering down from the sky-walk at Thong Lor Skytrain station I find it hard not to get giddy.
First, for those new to street food streets, they are like food court areas only outside and less bland and sterile. There’s more smoke, more smell, more banter, more booze, more traffic and ultimately more excitement. Much of street food for me is about this experience (and beer) over the food and while I’ve found some of my all time favourite foods at street food they can also be replicated indoors. What you cannot replicate indoors however is the scene as Sukhumvit 38 Street Food sits under the shadow of the passing Skytrain, it adjoins to one of Bangkok’s busiest streets, it is urban, edgy and exciting, The perfect place for people watching. The range of foods is equally as impressive with favourites from all reaches of the country; the grills and hot salads of Isaan in the North East to the favourite Khao Soi curry of Northern Lanna food. Throw in every other street food favourite and the countless fresh fruit and dessert stands and you’ll understand why Thai people are so food obsessed. The vendors begin at the very start of Sukhumvit 38 with outside seating and indoor shophouse seating and restaurants. It is hard to miss if planning a visit (next to Thong Lor BTS station). Few things have changed on Sukhumvit 38 since my previous visits 10 years ago bar the increased numbers of tourists, farang faces and an unexpected hipster feel (has street food become hip?).
The obvious new addition to Sukhumvit 38 street food is Daniel Thaiger a Gourmet Burger Truck. Again kind of hipster as confirmed by the farang lady in horn-rimmed glasses and an “I Heart Burgers T-Shirt” (we all love burgers..). Anyway hipsters tend to be right when it comes to food and they are definitely right here. The “Cowboy Burger” was honestly the best burger I’ve found in Bangkok, every crumb of it with sheer tastiness. Maybe the magic was in the bun, I’d happily order the bun alone or a bun inside a bun. So maybe my judgement was hindered by my current moonshine state but apparently not. As I squirm drunk on the bedroom floor unwrapping my cowboy burger Moo Ping (my cat) goes crazy for it. Tuna, grilled fish, chicken, cheese toasties, massaman nothing gets her excited… until now. My cat obviously has impeccable taste.