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Aw Taw Kaw Market

Upscale is the adjective frequently used to describe Aw Taw Kaw, the wet market across the street from Chatuchak. The stalls are orderly and clean, the prices are elevated, but it’s not exactly like Aw Taw Kaw would be mistaken for the food hall at CentralWorld And your typical American grocery shopper? I think they’d have a hard time calling any store without air conditioning upscale.

Aw taw kaw food court

It is a great place for ogling produce, meat and prepared foods, even if you can sample a few things. I headed to the food court first. Unless you’ve spent some time in Thailand (a few weeks doesn’t count for me) or can read Thai, it’s not always obvious what each stand is selling just based on the observable ingredients on display. 

Aw taw kaw curries

You can see what others order or go the easy route and find a vendor with many sturdy pots out in the open.

Aw kaw taw catfish & pork

A generous helping of rice is spooned onto a plate and you’re given two choices to top it. I pointed at what appeared to be a dry, catfish curry with chile and basil and a soupier curry with fatty strips of pork and what I think was krachai, a rhizome that showed up everywhere in Thailand but is more elusive here unless you like it pickled in a jar. This was some of our favorite food in Bangkok. Curry on rice, simple. I guess we’re easy to please.

Aw taw kaw satay

I don’t think satay is ever very exciting even when it’s good. James tended to pick up a few skewers everywhere we went.

Aw taw kaw rabbit

A father and daughter next to us were playing with a rabbit on their table that I assumed to be a pet (you can buy them at Chatuchak) and not intended for a soup pot. I thought he was cute, at one point he jumped off the table and tried hopping away, but I gathered that animals on dining tables aren’t universally loved. A nearby woman wouldn’t stop glowering. In NYC people act like they don’t care about anomalies, in Asia no one has qualms about delivering an overt look of disapproval.

Aw taw kaw colorful rice

You may or may not know that I am obsessed with food in unusual colors (I don’t want to say unnatural because I suspect these hues weren’t from synthetic dye) so green, periwinkle and maroon rice completely wowed me. I wish I could’ve tasted the difference among all five styles but there is only so much eating one can do. Besides, I wasn’t sure how they were intended to be eaten.

Aw taw kaw things in bags

Taut plastic bags filled with unknown liquids.

Aw taw kaw dried fish

Dried fish and shrimp.

Aw taw kaw pork

So much pork. We did get some slices and chile dip to go.

Aw taw kaw som tam kits

Som tam kits. Maybe this is what is meant by upscale. Actually, now that I’m looking at this photo again, I’m not sure why I thought this was fixings for a papaya salad. There’s nothing papaya-ish about the mysterious brown squiggles on the upper right side of each package.

Aw taw kaw seafood

Grilled seafood.

Aw taw kaw thai marzipan

Thai marzipan, bean paste not ground almonds.

Aw taw kaw pork shanks

Pork shanks standing upright.

Aw taw kaw staff eating pizza

What does the staff eat on their break? Pizza from The Pizza Company.

Aw taw kaw melons

Giant melons.

Aw taw kaw curry pastes

Curry pastes packed into dense mounds much like mole in Mexico. We bought a few small packets but haven’t used them yet.

Chatuchak coconut ice cream

Something as simple as ordering coconut ice cream could end up being complicated. There were numerous tubs of white ice cream, each a different flavor from what I gathered were different varieties of coconut. I’ve never had a choice about what kind of coconut I’d like to eat. And then you are allowed to pick three toppings from an array of glass jars, maybe 15. This is tab tim grob, a.k.a. red rubies, a.k.a. water chestnuts coated in scarlet tapioca starch, candied slivers of pumpkin and something that they call sea coconut in Malaysia. I have no idea what it’s called in Thai…ok, now I do: look dtao, palm seed.

Aw taw kaw cat trying to stay cool

A convenience store on the perimeter had pay toilets and a cat trying to cool off. A lot of the cats in Thailand seemed as hot and beat up as I was.

Aw Taw Kaw Market * Phaholyothin Rd., Bangkok, Thailand

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  1. Hi,

    It’s actually Aw Taw Kaw and not Aw Kaw Taw :) I live about 5 minutes from there.

    Nice photos though, and I like your blog!

    June 14, 2010

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