Boat Noodles (Kuay Tiau Rua) is one of the most popular things to try in Bangkok, recommended by both locals and tourists alike. Boat Noodles is called as such because was originally sold to passing customers on wooden boats that ply the canals in Bangkok. Each vendor would have their own recipe that distinguishes their noodles from the others – may it be a different type of noodle or broth. After looking at various sources online, we made a special trip to the Victory Monument where many Boat Noodles restaurants are located at. We thought this unique local favorite was worth a detour.
This is the Victory Monument, easily reachable via BTS or bus provided you know which to take. If you rely on the Victory Monument and map alone to look for the boat noodles, you are going to have a bad time. Even with the amount of directions available online, you will be lost.
Based on my own experience the easiest way is to look for the canal while walking on the pedestrian bridge. As long as you keep the Victory Monument on your left while walking on the bridge, you should be on the right path. And assuming you are indeed on the right path, the canal will be on your right. Forget about looking at maps, just follow this simple instruction of mine and you will be fine. Or better still, just ask a local who speaks English (if you are lucky enough to encounter one) to point you to the right way.
Obviously there will be more than one boat noodle restaurants (signage apart, differentiated by the colors of their shirts) along the canal but only one was open when we were there, so our decision was already made for us.
Many locals like to have their lunch here so it will be extremely packed during lunch hours. But we did not have to wait long for seats because the turnover rate is fast owing much to the speed of the food arriving at the tables.
The staff here speaks very very limited English and we don’t speak the Thai language at all. Believe me I did my homework and memorized some Thai words and sentences (even wrote them down on a piece of paper) that I thought would help when ordering here but it was pretty much useless. We still ended up like ‘chicken and duck talk’ lol. So we had to resort to using sign languange, pointing here and there at what the others are eating. Luckily some locals seated next to us were kind enough to help us. The only thing we ordered ourselves? Coca Cola. Now if you look at this photo above you would think that the noodle’s portion is normal.
But look again, the amount of noodles are actually very little can could be finished in two or three mouthfuls. That is why multiple bowls (priced at 10 Baht each) are usually ordered and it is not uncommon to see twenty to thirty bowls stacked on a table. There are actually a few variations of Kuay Tiau Rua and the only versions we tried were pork and beef noodles, which had kangkung and meatballs in respective broths. Another version we saw the others were eating had pink broth and as much as we wanted to try it, we had absolutely no idea how to order it.
Even though the noodles looks simple, the flavor is rather strong and complex combining a little of every taste – sour, sweet and spiciness. Some extra condiments such as sugar, chili sauce and fish sauce are available to customers to adjust the flavors according to their preferences. Also, don’t forget to order the side dishes like pork rind (fried pork skin) and fried wanton skins to compliment the noodles, they are nice and crunchy alright. Honestly speaking I won’t rate this noodle anywhere near fantastic because personally to me, it was just OK (else we wouldn’t have finished so many bowls) and our main visit here was to satiate our curiosity. Ultimately it was the experience of eating here that is more meaningful than the food’s tastiness.
We had this much.
After the noodles do give the delicious steamed pandan coconut puddings a try, they are served in small cups on each table.
Lastly, if you are wondering if the Victory Monument is the only place to look for Boat Noodles, the answer is NO. The only reason we came here is because of its popularity among locals. Plus, we were also influenced by the amount of coverage given to this place by various blogs and sites online believing it is the ONLY place for Boat Noodles. In fact Boat Noodles is quite common in Bangkok and we have seen it being sold at many places – Chatuchak Weekend Market included. So if your intention is to know how Boat Noodles taste like, then there are plenty of places you could eat at, not necessary near the Victory Monument. Another way of putting this is by asking yourself: Do you purposely go to Klang for Bak Kut Teh when there are so many equally good ones in Klang Valley?