BKK Must Eats: The Starch Cart

Thai Street Food
Anybody fortunate enough to have explored the wonderful world of Bangkok street food knows the starch cart. You never have to walk too far to find one: They’re packed with steaming ears of whatever corn is in season, long, purple fingerling-like potatoes, squash, and peanuts. It’s all pretty basic stuff but, like most street food here, it’s that basic simplicity of the food that makes it one of the most satisfying grab-and-go treats in the city; it’s also one of the cheapest.

Try the squash and creamy potatoes (make sure all the dirt has been rinsed off), but a bag of hot corn freshly sliced from the cob is the starch cart’s specialty. Corn isn’t a grain traditionally associated with sweets in the West, but that’ s how it’s most often enjoyed in Thailand, and that’s how you should have your vendor prepare it for you.

The key is the coconut, which helps accentuate corn’s sweeter side, and a light sprinkling of sugar.  Ordering it is easy, even though most starch-cart vendors, in my experience, speak minimal English: Point to the ear of corn you want, then pantomine like you’re grating a hunk of cheese to let him/her know you want it sliced off the cob. He or she will then point at the coconuts on the cart–shake your head yes, and that’s it.

It shouldn’t cost more than 20 baht for the little plastic bag in your hand that’s filled with fresh corn topped with fresh coconut shavings, which you’ll devour with a little plastic soup spoon. Shake a little sugar on top, mix it all up, done. I could easily eat two or three of these bags of corn at a time (and have, on occasion).

I know it doesn’t sound like much, but trust me, this is yet another of Bangkok’s simple treats well worth seeking out. Here’s a few more:

+ Early Evening Pad Thai on Soi Chidlom
+ Salmon Agemusubui at Sukishi
+ Spicy Tuna Roll at Yaki Ten
+ Grilled Squid at Pantip Plaza
+ Pumpkin Hummus at May Kaidee’s
+ Seared Tuna at Pla Dib
+ Mexican Food at La Monita
+ Salmon Mania Roll at Zen Cucina
+ Feasts at Jae On

The “Must-Eat Food in Bangkok” game could go on every day for years and still have plenty of culinary fodder to feature. In that sense, this ongoing series will not be comprehensive, nor will it exclusively list dishes that are “the best” of anything (though occasionally it might). The modest goal here is simply to randomly spotlight damned delicious dishes in Bangkok that I’ve indulged on many occasions, and that you should indulge on your next visit too.

Photo credit and copyright Brian Spencer

One Response

  1. Tim March 9, 2012

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