The Hottest Noodles in Bangkok: Kuay Tiew Nai Ngog
By: Zachary Spector
One of the most iconic images of the Bangkok streets are the small metal food carts and open front shops lining the sidewalks, with their vendors hawking various exotic delights. One of the most popular dishes for Bangkokians are kuay tiew, or rice noodles. These food meccas are easily spotted by the vapor arising from the aromatic broths as they are brought to a boil over rickety gas furnaces as dozens of Thais slurp down a steaming bowl of noodles. One noodle shop in particular has been the talk of town as of late, and may just have the best noodles in the city.

Kuay Tiew Nai Ngog, which translates to Mr. Gray Hair's Noodles, has always been a popular lunch destination for Ramkhamhaeng locals, but recently has become famous city-wide after it was featured on Channel 3's Jaew. Jaew, which literally translates to "popular" in Thai, goes around the city seeking out the best local spots for food, shopping and other attractions or events. Since Nai Ngog was featured, its business has increased by fifteen percent, however, to say that it was not already a mainstay of noodle noshing would be a misnomer.

The shop originally opened nine years ago after the owner, Tom, decided he no longer wanted to continue working for the American-based United Airlines. He found a small bit of land at the end of Ramkhamhaeng Soi 21 and decided he wanted to sell boat noodles, named for the way they were sold out of small boats at floating markets. Tom soon realized that the modest fifty-seat restaurant was not adequate for the increasing demand of his noodles. Over the next nine years the restaurant continued to expand until it got to its 700-seat size that it is today.

The restaurant itself is a reminder of the older days of Thailand. Old hits from the 1950s play on the stereo and antique furnishings litter the open spaces, making the covered eating area feel like your grandmother's living room. The noodle shop also takes advantage of its outdoor setting with a central pond and tropical foliage. Trickling water from small water fountains make this a truly peaceful place to relax and enjoy a warm bowl of kuay tiew.

Stacks of bowls are ready to be filled with the spicy and sweet brown broth made with over twenty herbs, including cinnamon and star anise. The noodles are done just right and the small chunks of beef are not tough, as can be common in Thailand. Instead the chunks are flavorful and merge perfectly with the broth, noodles and leafy kale. A perfectly round, pork meatball sits atop the knot of noodles. This pleasant surprise was firm, yet flavorful; a rare find in Bangkok. One of the joys of eating noodles is the opportunity to add spices on your own to customize the dish. A dash of dried chili and sugar brought out the spiciness and sweetness of the broth just a bit. The nam som, clear vinegar with sliced chili pepper floating within, was a bit different here. Instead, it was made with dried chili flakes, creating a brownish liquid with a subtler aroma. A miniature ladle of the mysterious mixture somehow melded all of the flavors together perfectly and the contents of the bowl very quickly disappeared.

The pork satay came with ten skewers of chunky pork, tinted yellow from the marinade and with a slight brownish char. Without dipping the pork into the satay sauce, it was tender and still filled with the peanut and turmeric taste. The satay sauce itself, made with imported Indian curry, acts to add more satay flavor and give some extra texture to the meat morsels.

For those living in the Ramkhamhaeng or southern Lat Phrao areas, Kuay Tiew Nai Ngog is a must try, if not for the noodles, then perhaps for the environment as Thais seem to make a bit of an event out of eating the 20 baht noodle bowls. While it may be difficult to justify a trip for those living along the banks of the Chao Phraya, any who are in search of the best bowl of noodles in the city cannot do so without a visit to Nai Ngog.

 


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Recent Articles
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