Why I Stopped Eating So Much Street Food In Bangkok

When I first moved to Bangkok, I was eating street food 3-4 times a day. At £1 a meal, I figured eating Bangkok street food would be cheaper and better than cooking food myself. A few years later, and my opinion has changed greatly.

Today, around 90% of my meals are homemade, with the other 10% being a combination of street food and nicer restaurants.

MSG in Bangkok street food

I didn’t know too much about all the MSG in the local street food in Bangkok until a friend told me about it. I try to avoid chemicals when I can and eat clean as possible (usually), but had no idea I was consuming so much MSG.

Thai street food

I learned how to say “no MSG in Thai” – it’s “Mai sai pong-chue-rot” (in before some corrects me in the comments).

The next time you go to your favorite street food stall in Bangkok, just say that after you order your dish and taste the difference. The downside from asking for no MSG is the food doesn’t taste as good.

Pro-tip: they will only remove MSG from dishes they make on the spot. Don’t ask them to remove MSG from pre-made curries that they will just re-heat.

I’d fall asleep after eating street food

The amount of sugar, fat and oil that goes into street food dishes in Bangkok is enough to put a horse to sleep. If I ate a big plate of rice and meat, 30 minutes later I’d be out cold sleeping. Not sure if this is due to the high GI in rice, the sugar content, overloading of bad oil or a combination of everything, but its good night Irene for me.

Bangkok street food

It’s cheaper to make food at home

While not a huge issue, I realized it’s 50-60% cheaper to cook your own food at home. On average, I pay around 25 baht a meal I cook myself and I get to pick better ingredients, coconut oil over reused palm oil, better cuts of meat and brown rice.

Pro-tip: some of you cannot cook or are too lazy to cook. If that’s the case, jump on Thai Friendly, go on a date to Villa Market and convince the girl to cook you a week’s worth of dinner which you put in ice-cream tubs.

Thank me later.

Street food is still epic value

Having cut down on Bangkok street food, I still think the food is fucking great (if it has MSG) and the price is just as fucking great. When I first arrived, I think I was eating too much and certainly felt the effects. I gained a ton of weight, felt fatigued all the time and had long naps every day.

Now I’ve found a balance, I no longer take those naps, feel fitter and healthier. Who knows, if I manage to sell a few more eBooks on freelancing in Thailand I may even be able to use Paleo Robbie full time.

For some awesome Bangkok food blogs, check out BKK Fatty , Eat Thai Street Food or Bangkok Glutton.

What are you thoughts on Bangkok street food? How often do you eat it? Do you agree with what I’ve said?

19 thoughts on “Why I Stopped Eating So Much Street Food In Bangkok

  1. 19 May, 2015 at 9:32 pm

    Occasionally, I’d drink a fresh coconut or get some fruits, but I wouldn’t get any other stuff. With so many people walking around, rats and cockroaches everywhere, it just isn’t my cup of tea.

    Just curious, why don’t you consider getting the freshly prepared food at a store? You know, like pork and rice, omelet on rice, etc. wrapped in foil and they have labels, so you know what’s inside.

    1. 19 May, 2015 at 10:56 pm

      The food at the store or food court never usually tastes as good, just as greasy too normally.

  2. jspill
    19 May, 2015 at 11:40 pm

    I use an intermittent fasting protocol which is basically stuffing myself at an unlimited buffet every day, that fills me up on $7 – $15 until the next day. Not that much more expensive than three square meals a day, and good quality. Example places:

    Sun – Happy Suki Huay Khwang, Beef hotpot buffet, 200b
    Mon – Kuroda Ekkamai, sushi, 500b
    Tues – Kimju Ladprao, grilled pork/chicken 308b + service
    Weds – Oishi sushi branch, 485b with discount card
    Thu – Best Beef On Nut, grilled meat buffet, 220b
    Fri – Marriott Hotel Thonglor lunch, 400b booking on EatIgo
    Sat – Great Punjab Sukhumvit, Indian curry buffet, 200b

    Good blog on the last one here http://pierreateit.com/the-great-punjab-indian-restaurant-review-bangkok-thailand/

    Or basically hunt for discounts on EatIGo

    1. 19 May, 2015 at 11:49 pm

      Think I’ll join you one day for the Saturday Buffet.

    2. Pat
      20 May, 2015 at 4:27 am

      Plus you get to see a lot of the city by the look of it. Only time I ever experienced food poisoning in Thailand was from Outback in Siam sq. Wouldn’t wish that pain on my worst enemy

      Anybody into MK or Yum Saap?

      Sukhumvit 36 always seems to be a cut above, taste wise, there’s that guy who apparently won the ‘best pad thai in Thailand’ award but there’s always a bit of a queue as he only has two woks going, worth the wait though.

      Apparaently the best khao mun gai is to be found in Pratunam, it tasted like most other places I’ve eaten it so maybe there’s some scam going, worth a try though.

      http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowUserReviews-g293916-d1128726-r56813332-Go_Ang_Pratunam_Chicken_Rice_Restaurants-Bangkok.html

      For me, the best khao kar moo (stew pork leg) is on sukhumvit near the soi 22 entrance. A bit tatty but the hot sauce is damned good.

      1. 20 May, 2015 at 9:58 am

        I think you mean 38, that’s pretty good but prices are a bit more than elsewhere. 45 baht for som tam.

  3. Pat
    19 May, 2015 at 11:46 pm

    It’s finding the balance. MSG is in more foods than people think. Not just Asian. There should be more info and health warnings about it in general, when I explain it to some people who think I’m talking a load of bollocks, I ask them ”Ever feel thirsty after eating that Chinese take away?” They’ll always agree and say ”Oh yeah I know what you mean.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glutamate_flavoring

    In the 1980s the press labelled it’s overuse as ‘Chinese restaurant syndrome’ and a few sat up and took notice.

    McTossers have always denied using it, and said that the reason folks get addicted to their burgers is the unique way they cook them (yeah right, ever heard of the term ‘smackdonalds’?)

    If you’re really trying to avoid it altogether, then check every label on every item you buy in the supermarket. It’s usually disguised as E621 up to E626. You will be very surprised at what you find
    Flavoured foods like crisps and mama noodles are full of it. Which is why I only eat salted plain crisps and only use half the sachet of powder in my mama noodles

    So get reading them labels and prepare to be surprised!

    1. 19 May, 2015 at 11:51 pm

      I buy the pre-made sources that you mix with other stuff (yes not the best I know), but the more expensive ones (25-45 bhat) say there’s no MSG on the packet. As you said, it’s pretty hard to avoid chemicals in food, but when I was scoffing 3-4 meals a day of street food, I was eating more than my fairshare of the stuff.

      Even the fruit drinks I ask without sugar or syrup, it tastes 100% worse without it mind you lol.

  4. Th
    20 May, 2015 at 7:32 am

    What about restaurants like jeffers, MK, food courts (terminal 21 comes to mind – food is dirt cheap, but small portions)?

    Do they use msg?

    1. 20 May, 2015 at 9:57 am

      I’m not sure but I avoid them too, just because I don’t like the taste of the food.

  5. herpes
    20 May, 2015 at 9:50 am

    i agree with u , u feel tired as phuck from street food

  6. ksharp
    22 May, 2015 at 7:18 pm

    What do you cook at your little apartment? I’m guessing you have a standard Thai two stove burners and a sink ?

    Do you just pan cook a bunch of meats? Boil eggs? Can’t think of anything else you can really cook on those little stoves.

    1. 23 May, 2015 at 9:28 am

      My place has a kitchen, I can cook anything.

  7. Luke
    23 May, 2015 at 8:51 pm

    Even if you ask them for no MSG, is there a way to stop them from putting it anyway?

    1. 23 May, 2015 at 9:20 pm

      What do you mean? Other than asking, there’s not much more you can do.

  8. fatman
    24 May, 2015 at 12:18 am

    You should do a blog post about the stuff you normally cook for morning and evening meals and how much it costs. Would be pretty helpful.

  9. Pat
    25 May, 2015 at 6:05 pm

    I’d say that the Thai curries, sauces, marinades have the least MSG in them, read the ingredients and you’ll see. Here in UK all the imported sauces have no MSG, except the odd packet, then all the Jap/Korean/Chinese equivalents all contain it.

    Glad too see my local Tesco has started stocking mama prawn noodles again, must be a demand. Nice quick snack is mama with sardines laced with lots of chilli & lemon..
    Beats those 7-11 hot dogs made with God knows what, gazelle, ape, or rotten snake

  10. Jakub
    26 May, 2015 at 10:05 am

    I eat ton of bbq chicken from Big C (I hope there is no shit in it?) or fresh fish
    with vegetables (most of my carbohydrates intake is from beer)

    Easy, healthy and super fast

    1. slak
      26 May, 2015 at 5:41 pm

      so what if theres msg in that, whatever man, u shouldnt worry about this stuff too much

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