There is a famous street in the Sukhumvit area of Bangkok where vendors prepare recipes handed down through generations.
It’s open 24/7 and people line up for their must-have favourites. If you want to find someone who still makes a traditional Kuai Tiao flavoured with cow blood like your Mumma used to make, search no further than Sukhumvit Soi 38. A Soi 38 dessert might be something like grilled bananas on open coals.
If you’ve visited Thailand as a tourist, you’ll know that street food is hard to replicate in any other setting; it’s often disappointing when you get back to Australia and can’t find a Pad Thai that tastes anything like the one you bought for a dollar from an old man with a cart.
Now, however, Adelaide-based, Thai-born chefs Terry Intarnkhamhaeng and Vee Kaeopoklang, who formerly lived on the famous food street in Bangkok, have partnered with Frank Hannon, owner of Amalfi, to bring their own taste of Thai street food to Adelaide – but perhaps without the traditional cow blood.
Their Pulteney Street shop, also named Sukhumvit Soi 38, has a quirky interior that features bright, royal-inspired yellow details, paying homage to the longest reigning King of Thailand, Bhumibol Adulyadej, who recently celebrated his 87th birthday. In Thailand on Mondays, the birth day of the King, people wear yellow shirts as an informal sign of respect for the royal family. These little details make Soi 38 a slightly more contemporary take on the traditional Thai restaurant.
Staff are happy to explain the humorous, hand-painted sign on the wall that says “No Durian”, accompanied by a picture of the spiky fruit. Many places in Thailand have signs like this banning the fruit because of its pungent smell, slightly akin to old shoes or dirty socks. It’s a quintessentially Thai joke.
Since Sukhumvit Soi 38 opened more than two months ago, the chefs have changed the menu twice to feature seasonal ingredients. Green mango and papaya are fused in spicy summer salads with seafood specials such as mackerel and barramundi.
By lunch hour. the space buzzes with hungry office workers eager to try a mouthful of Pad Thai or Laab. The lunch menu features dishes which are all $10 or less.
Favourite lunch dishes:
Kuay Teow Moo Noodles: Soaked in aromatic broth, Kuay Teow noodles are a specialty of Sukhumvit Soi 38. One version, the Kuay Teow Moo (below), features an assortment of minced meat, sliced barbecue pork and meatballs. Paired with textured rice noodles and a lightly spiced broth, Kuay Teow is light yet filling. $10
Khao Soi: Another authentic street food dish on the menu is Khao Soi. It can be found at many Mum and Dad restaurants in Thailand, particularly in the north, where chefs Terry and Vee are from. Khao Soi is a chicken soup with chunks of chicken and yellow egg noodles, topped with crunchy fried noodles and pickled veg. It is usually slightly creamy, with coconut milk in the soup base. $10
Khao Man Kgai: This is a Thai take on Hainanese chicken; throughout Asia you will find versions of this dish with different names. It’s usually steamed chicken and rice accompanied with a clear oniony broth, though the difference with the Thai version is that it has a spicy soya bean sauce. $10
Lui Suan: With the rise of Vietnamese food in Adelaide, you may never want to see another cold roll, but the Thai version at Soi 38 is slightly different. Lui Suan (above) is a thicker, flat rice noodle stuffed with tofu or chicken and veg. The sauce is the highlight – it’s quite spicy with a strong basil and chilli flavour. $9
Thai street vendors often sell blended fruit drinks, but tourists avoid them because of the use of ice, so this is your chance to try one here. Soi 38 is serving seasonal fruits blended with ice just like the street vendors make, including as watermelon and mango. $6
Sukhumvit Soi 38
54 Pulteney Street, Adelaide
Ph 8223 5472
Open 11.30-2.30 and 5.30 -9.30
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