BANGKOK — Street food may be easy to find in Bangkok, but many is rather disappointing – mass produced and potentially unhygienic – despite the city’s reputation for its casual cuisine.
For instance, finding a delicious dish of fried rice noodles with mimosa (sen mee pad pak kra chaed) is no simple feat these days. Some use tough, stringy veggies or low-quality, stinky shrimp. There are also vendors who seasoned their mimosa with straight-out-of-the-bottle sauces.
Sor Na Wang (ส. หน้าวัง), located on Din Sor Road between The Giant Swing and Democracy Monument, is an exception that you might want to try for yourself.
Its signature dish tastes just right, not sweetish as no sugar is added when working the stir fried noodles on the wok. The water mimosa is fresh, slightly crunchy. The vegetable arrives from a farm daily from Nakhon Pathom province, southwest of Bangkok.
Saengpetch Namsriharm, 46, is the chef of this eatery in Bangkok’s historic neighborhood. It hosts only four tables and does not bother with decorations. The eatery also prides itself in its mimosa dish and advertised it clearly in front of the shop.
This is the sort of street food worth coming back again and again. Saengpetch attributed its success to the secret recipe, fresh ingredients, and special sauce. Cooking is done within seconds with high temperature on a wok.
The person behind the recipe is the shop owner Somsri Pothaworapong, 67. The Thai-Chinese owner no longer cooks but she was more than happy to talk about the dish.
The dish is neither Chinese nor Thai, but a Thai-Chinese hybrid. Floating water mimosa is not common in China but it used to be abundant on Thai canals, ponds and rivers before most waterways became polluted.
“In the olden days, poor people used to pick it up from the water then fried it with broad rice noodles,” Somsri said. “But later on it was clear that the thinnest rice noodle was best for stir frying it with water mimosa.”
Somsri said part of the secret of her recipe is that all the ingredients are of premium quality. Fresh shrimps and squid delivered from the south every other day, and only the choicest water mimosa harvests are used.
The stir-fried noodles are served with a fish sauce with quality sliced bird-eye chili and small red onions. Somsri said the dish just needs a dash of the sauce, and put some on my plate.
Customers even come from other nearby provinces just to enjoy the dish. And while the dish can be served vegan, or with minced pork or chicken variety which is priced at 70 baht, Somsri insists the best is with shrimps and squids at 100 baht.
Sor Na Wang has been serving the dish for over two decades at the humble eatery. It has no branches or presence on Facebook.
Sor Na Wang is located at 156/2 Din Sor Road. It’s less than two minutes’ walk east of Democracy Monument. It is open every day from 9am to 9pm except Wednesday. Call 02-224-2588 or 097-459-9241 for details or reservations.