Every Thai eatery in Thailand and abroad likes to claim that they make authentic tom yum goong. Not being Thai, I have no idea which version of the soup is the real thing. So when a Thai friend offered to take us to eat what’s known as the most authentic tom yum goong in Bangok, I said yes, of course. She took us to Tom Yum Goong Banglamphu (ร้านต้มยำกุ้งบางลำพู), a streetside stall located near the Khao San Road backpacker district.
I had always been a little wary of eating street food in developing countries. But I changed my mind after a terrible bout of food poisoning on a trip to Vietnam last year. A meal at an upscale restaurant in the hillside town of Sa Pa made me so ill that I spent an entire day in the local hospital on a drip, writhing in pain. The locals later informed me that I should always eat street food, never restaurant food. The reason is, there’s no telling how they store and prepare the food in restaurants, whereas street food is always boiled or fried. I’ve since become less cautious and haven’t fallen ill so far.
Tom Yum Goong Banglamphu is located right outside the main Banglamphu multi-storey carpark. It’s not difficult to spot – look out for the elderly man who is in charge of making the tom yum goong, as he works with his back to the road:
Our friend placed an order in rapid-fire Thai. It didn’t take very long for our food to be served, as the stall is run by an efficient team who churn out dishes and turn over tables in double-quick time to keep up with the crowd. Everything was fresh and very well made, but the highlight was the tom yum goong, naturally.
In Singapore, you get two kinds of tom yum goong – red and clear. Both versions are a thin soup with the predominant taste being that of spices. Tom Yum Goong Banglamphu’s version is a broth so enriched with shrimp fat that it’s creamy. It comes with a generous helping of fresh shrimp, too. Unlike Singaporean versions of tum yum goong, this version won’t have you sweating because it’s too hot. But it will leave you wanting to go back for more.
While you’re there, try the stir-fried baby clams (hoy lai pad nam prik pao), puffy egg omelette (khai jeow) and stir-fried kai lan (pad pak kana) as well. These plus the tom yum goong and rice will put you in a food coma for sure. Walk it off by browsing the stalls in the market , and cool your burning palate with a drink from this juice shop just opposite: