Food + Wine

World's Best Street Food

by JJ Goode

The dish: Green papaya salad

Where to find the best: Bangkok, Thailand

Word on the street: It's a siren song for most Thais, the pop-pop-pop of shredded green papaya being bruised by a stone pestle. The sound signals the presence of som tam, a salad that showcases the quartet of flavors—salty, sweet, sour, and spicy—that epitomize Thai cuisine. Som tam is a tangle of crisp, unripe papaya, peanuts, and dried shrimp, tossed in a lip-tingling dressing of fish sauce, palm sugar, and lime juice, then crammed, to-go style, into a plastic bag. You'll find it all over Bangkok, but the quintessential version is found just off Phaholyothin Soi 7, a busy street in the Soi Ari neighborhood packed with vendors—seek out the cart whose window flaunts stacks of shredded papaya and tomatoes, plus a coiling bunch of long beans. More daring chowhounds should seek out the style of som tam popular in Isaan, Thailand's Northeastern region, where many think the dish originated. Stop by the open-air haunt called Foon Talop, in the Chatuchak Weekend Market, where the salad is made with pla ra, a supremely funky, murky fish sauce whose flavor you won't soon forget.

Foon Talop
Chatuchak Weekend Market
Section 24 (on the Kamphaeng Phet II Road side)
Bangkok, Thailand

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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