We had just come off 24 hours of virtually no sleep flying from Dubai to Bangkok at 3am local time. So the prospect of waking up at 7am wasn’t exactly ideal but what made it worthwhile was the reason for the early start, Silom Soi 20 morning market.
This market is featured amongst many of Mark Wiens’ countless Bangkok food blogs and really caught our attention. Mainly as the street food was both different and enticing but also we were staying at the So Sofitel around three streets away from the market.
Even at 7am Bangkok’s thermostat begins to rise. Although the heat on this particular morning was quite mild unlike the sticky lunchtime humidity. We strolled along Silom road just past the metro station and encountered a small line of tuk-tuk’s. Remembering that a tuk-tuk ride at least once is a must-do in Bangkok we entered into negotiations.
The tuk-tuk driver was pleasant enough and spoke enough English for us to work out where we were heading. 100 Baht (£2.22) was the agreed price, steep of course for just going 5 minutes up the road but tuk-tuks are famously more expensive than most transport in the city. The ride itself was smooth and the driver dropped us right into the centre of the hustle and bustle of the market.
The smell of the market is something that I won’t forget in a hurry. The stench of fish sauce is overpowering at times but you get used to it and once you do the smell of top class Thai food comes through. We saw so many sites, from local fruit and veg to monks selling herbs fresh from metal bowls. Grilled meat on skewers, at this hour? A popular breakfast option around here. Many Thai locals were present at the market with many of the tourists presumably still in bed. We were looking for a certain stall which had been featured on Wiens’ blog which was a lady selling a dish known as Khao neow dam sang kaya which translates to Thai sticky rice with custard.
We headed to the top of the market at the Silom road area and decided to work out way down. Out of the corner of my eye I could see through the parting between customers there was an old Thai lady seated beside a large metal bowl. Easily missed even if you are looking for her! Examining her stall there’s an option of either black or white sticky rice which gets packed into a pandan leaf and topped with reduced, sweet coconut milk and a spoon of sweet Thai set custard.
25 Baht (£0.55) each parcel was a great deal with the service friendly even if English wasn’t spoken, it’s easy to get across what you would like from what’s on display. We chose black rice, mainly for photogenic reasons. It turns out that the rice has a nutty flavour, almost like it’s been toasted, really good against the rich coconut flavour.
The whole parcel was tasty and very rich indeed. The best way to eat it has to be with your fingers although it wasn’t a messy process as sticky rice holds together well. The custard on top i’m still trying to work out how it’s made. Traditional method is to steam the custard for this dish but this didn’t taste like it had been steamed. Almost like a set fudge kind of texture and sweet caramel flavour. We’ll have to work on recreating that.
Is Silom 20 Market worth the early rise? Oh yes. Silom 20 is a great way to experience a daily Thai Market and grab some authentic street dishes along the way. You can find many things here such as mangosteens and other fresh fruit to eat in amongst the tasty street food fresh off the grill or even, as we had, stuffed into a leaf. As you’re up early, why not plan a trip to the Grand Palace on the same morning? Beat the queues and enjoy one of the top attractions in Thailand. Even better on a full stomach.
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 0600-0900
Nearest Metro: Silom
Nearest BTS: Sala Daeng