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With the pound sterling, U.S. dollar and euro all still caught in the vortex and circling the drain after the global economic crisis, the ex-pats who reside here in Pattaya can't help but feel the pinch of the diminishing purchasing power of their respective currency. This has caused most of us to search harder for ways to stretch our ever shrinking budgets.

 

Since we all must eat, eliminating the consumption of calories from our monthly expenditures is really not an option. Most of us however, can easily trim the fat from the price we pay for the foods that we do consume by looking for alternative sources for our snacks and meals. One option that many farangs overlook is the startling variety of 'street food' that Pattaya has to offer. The small Thai eateries, and the even smaller Thai food stalls, and the ubiquitous pushcarts that all dispense a bewildering assortment of mostly mysterious edible matter that is as delicious to the Thais as most pizza parlors, burger joints and fish and chip shops are to us Westerners just may be the solution we're looking for.

Since we all must eat, eliminating the consumption of calories from our monthly expenditures is really not an option. Most of us however, can easily trim the fat from the price we pay for the foods that we do consume by looking for alternative sources for our snacks and meals. One option that many farangs overlook is the startling variety of 'street food' that Pattaya has to offer. The small Thai eateries, and the even smaller Thai food stalls, and the ubiquitous pushcarts that all dispense a bewildering assortment of mostly mysterious edible matter that is as delicious to the Thais as most pizza parlors, burger joints and fish and chip shops are to us Westerners just may be the solution we're looking for.

However, for me, the difficulty with that option is that whenever I pass a street food vendor and try to work out what's on offer, in many instances, the food is totally unfamiliar to me, and if there's any signage, it's usually in Thai. So I'm frequently left wondering about its origin, its taste and its edibility. Thankfully, the Pattaya Trader has decided to help out, by asking me to explore and report back to you each month what I've learned about the seemingly endless array of Pattaya's many different street foods.

This month I visited a local food stall where I regularly buy deep fried chicken fillets and spring rolls as a snack for 5 baht each. Today, however, I'll try and throw together a complete meal for two, using primarily the food products that this stall offers. After reflecting on what little I actually understood about the answers the Thai vendor kindly supplied to my queries, I selected four skewers of gai sup bon kok (battered chicken fillets) at 20 baht, four skewers of pla sup bon kok (battered fish balls) at 60 baht, both of which are accompanied by a sweet and spicy dipping sauce, one order of moo satay (BBQ marinated pork) with a peanut dipping sauce and a cucumber salad for 40 baht, one order of mee (cold pink noodles with egg, bean sprouts and scallions) at 10 baht, and one order of mee ong homm (a Thai green salad) for 30 baht. On the way back to my room I grabbed a bag of khao (steamed rice) from another vendor for 10 baht and some fresh pineapple chunks for dessert off a fruit cart, also for 10 baht, making the total outlay for the evening's repast 170 baht excluding beverages.

How did it all taste? The mini chicken fillets are battered, breaded and deep fried, and taste a lot like a chicken nugget except they're made from actual white chicken meat, not processed chicken parts and are much cheaper. The fish balls were surprisingly tasty and are now on my list of favorite savory snack foods. The BBO pork was also very good and even better with the peanut sauce, as was the cucumber and cold noodle salads. What can I say about steamed rice except that it compliments almost everything. The only thing that I wouldn't buy again is the Thai salad which was composed of heart shaped leafs, pungent purple onions, bitter yellow onions, spicy chili peppers, roasted peanuts and a semi-sweet, reddish paste/relish that tasted of coconut that actually wasn't bad. I'm no gourmand, but for me, the meal ticked all the boxes and rated as a complete success in every almost department, i.e. fast, easy, inexpensive, tasty, satisfying and filling. The Thai salad was the only disappointment.

Whether you eat is as a snack or make it a meal, Pattay's street food may not be five star haute cuisine, but it certainly can be delicious. With little shopping and no cooking involved it's definitely convenient and as I've just shown, a meal with three entrees, three sides and a dessert for only 85 baht per person baht makes it an excellent value and exceedingly easy on the wallet.

By the way, should you care to visit, the food stall where I purchased nearly everything in this article, it's located near Tukcom on South Pattaya Road. Just go out Tukcom's south entrance, cross the street and turn left or east. It's on the nearest corner, less than ten meters from the doorway. Business hours seem to be 10am to 5pm everyday except Tuesday.