We were made aware of the Chaofa Weekend Market (also apparently called the Naka Market) through the Speights family, as David sets up a prayer “booth” most every weekend. This particular market is only open on Saturday’s and Sunday’s from 4pm-? I’ve heard 9pm, but we’ve left at 9:30pm and there was no sign of the market slowing down. Parking is limited (even for motorbikes), so getting there early is better. It’s only a five minute ride away for us!
I think it’s an amazing form of ministry – some chairs and a table near one of the entrances is all you need. It helps that David speaks Thai fluently.
Their daughter Jazz often frequents the market and, since we were new, she took us to some of the best food spots. This market has MUCH more than food… you can find almost anything you can think of, including hedgehogs, puppies, knock-off purses, and shoes, as is evident by the above photo.
We came a second time with P+J, our friends who were visiting from Edmonton, so we were able to try some other goodies as well.
Disclaimer: I am not a foodie, nor do I intend to be one. In fact, I’m such a noob, I’m only just learning the basics of using a wok. My verdicts and ratings are for my own memory. Also, for your reference, 1 CAD is about 25 THB.
Thai-style fried chicken wings
A combination of lemongrass and other Thai herbs (basil, oregano?) make these wings lick-your-fingers delicious!
- Verdict: This is definitely a weekly staple.
- Rating: 9/10 – they were somewhat small, but I suppose that’s a sign of a non-steroidal chicken!
- Price: 100g for 40 THB
Roti (banana pancakes)
The traditional roti contains fresh bananas inside a crepe, fried with lots of grease on this contraption, then drizzled with sweetened condensed milk. We opted for no milk drizzle and it was sweet enough.
- Verdict: Could be a great way to finish a meal; can make it as sweet as you’d like. This will be a once in a while treat for us.
- Rating: 7/10
- Price: 1 for 25 THB
We kept seeing squid on a stick at a lot of stalls, so naturally we had to try one. The outside tasted as squid does back in Canada – rubbery and almost flavourless, so it was good it came with a dipping sauce. It was the insides that were, unfortunately, not to our liking. It seems like they weren’t cooked at all, and it felt like I had slime in my mouth. I’m not talking a little bit of slime, I’m talking a mouthful of mucus. We were told it may not have been cooked all the way through, but I don’t think we’ll be trying this again. Too bad, as this was the one dish I was really looking forward to!
- Verdict: Far too slimy on the inside. Probably never again.
- Rating: 3/10 – the sauce wasn’t too bad.
- Price: 40-60 THB (depending on size of squid)
Miang kham (leaf wraps)
Oh my goodness, these are deceptively delicious. The name translates to “eating many things in one bite”, and you can read more about them on their Wikipedia page. Every bite you take hits different taste buds. There’s sweet, sour, savoury, fresh and crispy in each bite. In these ones, we tasted shallots, coconut shavings, some sort of sweet sauce (palm sugar maybe?), sour mango or maybe guavas, lime, and ginger.
- Verdict: Weekly staple. One of the most fresh things in the market, which is a nice change from all the grease!
- Rating: 10/10
- Price: 3 leaves on a stick for 10 THB (!)
We didn’t actually try these, as I saw they were deep fried right in front of me, but I liked this idea. They’re essentially chips, but it’s a single potato, cut in a swirl, deep-fried, and flavoured with a powder of your choice.
- Verdict: Have yet to try them.
- Rating: –
- Price: 1 stick for 20 THB
Being in a country that actually eats insects, of course I had to try some! There was a variety to choose from, so I took Jazz’s advice and tried crickets (as they’re fairly mild) and frogs. Both were very deep fried and flavoured, so they took on the flavourings of the spices. The crickets just tasted crunchy with no distinct flavour, and the frogs tasted like chewy chicken. I can’t wait to try to coconut worms one day!
- Verdict: A weird treat I definitely want to try with people, mostly to see their reactions.
- Rating: 6/10 – they’re strange.
- Price: 30 THB for a bowl of one type of insect. Not a bad deal.
They look like old french fries, but they’re so crispy, they’re a perfect crunch with a slight taste of, well, fish. We bought a big pack after sampling the spicy ones (not hot AT ALL, and I’m a wimp). They stayed crispy all week! This is always a point of contention, as we live in a super humid climate.
- Verdict: Perfect as an afternoon snack when you’re feeling “munchy”.
- Rating: 9/10 – they could be spicier.
- Price: 35-50 THB (depending on size of bag)
Thai ice tea
On a hot day (so, everyday), this is a common drink of choice for locals. It’s some sort of cold tea mixed with evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk, served over ice. It’s gone in five seconds flat, but it’s addictively tasty!
- Verdict: A once in a while sweet drink for us. Tea stalls are a dime a dozen anywhere you go.
- Rating: 8/10 – this one was quite good and not too sweet.
- Price: 20 THB
Some sort of pastry
The problem with not speaking Thai (other than the obvious) is not knowing what you’re eating. This was some sort of pastry with different fillings. The taro wasn’t too sweet nor flavourful, and the black sesame was disappointing, but the green tea one was pretty tasty!
- Verdict: I’d opt for a sweet flavour, or green tea, next time.
- Rating: 7/10 (green tea), 4/10 (black sesame, taro) – well worth the price
- Price: 10 THB each
Freshly pressed sugarcane juice
I wish I was joking that there was a juice presser in the market, but I’m not. Fresh sugarcane was hand cranked and sold right in front of us. It’s naturally ridiculously sweet.
- Verdict: If you have a sweet tooth, this will satisfy it.
- Rating: 7/10 – it’s just really sweet!
- Price: 10 THB for a plastic bag worth (like in the picture above); 30 THB for a cold 350mL bottle.
This is similar to the roti that we had before, but I’m sure it’s made completely differently. When it’s rolled and it cools a little, it’s almost crispy and tastes exactly like Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes!! I was so amazed and am kind of craving it again.
- Verdict: Such a good and simple dessert. Not an every day snack though.
- Rating: 9/10
- Price: 20 THB per roll
Pad see ew
You point at what you want, and the lady will fill a plastic container full for you. Pad see ew has quickly become one of our comfortable favourites, with it’s chewy soy-flavoured rice noodles, chicken and Chinese Broccoli.
- Verdict: Really tasty for being in bulk.
- Rating: 9/10
- Price: 20 THB for a medium-size styrofoam container
What better way to finish off a delicious tasting dinner than with a fruit smoothie?! We’ve already learned to make our own at home (without all the added sugar), but flavours like passionfruit, dragonfruit and longan are not ones we experiment with.
- Verdict: Dragonfruit was a bit mild but passionfruit was delicious! Our standard go-to is a mango-banana combo, which always turns out creamy.
- Rating: 8/10 – it’s always a tad sweet for my liking.
- Price: ~25 THB for a single fruit, more for mixed.
I’m told these markets can get very old quickly (lots of people, constant bartering for non-food items, super hot inside, etc.), but I think it becomes different when you start to get to know a market. Hopefully some of the workers will get to know our faces and we can speak Thai in time, which will make the experience all the more pleasant.
Now all we’d like is for more friends to come over, so we can all try different things together!