Deadline arrives for street food crackdown

A vendor turns fish on a grill at a Bangkok street food stand in February 2010.

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration’s war on street food – the best in the world from where we (and plenty of others) stand – gets real today as the deadline for vendors in the city’s Thong Lor, Ekkamai and Phra Khanong districts to shutter their street-side outlets has come.

As Coconuts reported last month, a meeting between vendors and city officials failed to produce a workable compromise. Thong Lor is to be the first area targeted before the crackdown spreads to neighboring streets.

Boontham Huiprasert, a Bangkok district chief carrying out the mandate in his jurisdiction, expressed the government’s hardline point of view ahead of the crackdown.

“Just don’t sell on the sidewalks,” he told the AP on Friday. “People who sell stuff on the sidewalks, they don’t pay rent. There are so many out there now, so we have to organize society.”

Of course, the sidewalks are precisely where street food is sold. A fact that makes it not only affordable but part of the fabric of daily life here.

Gaggan Anand, head chef at the top-rated restaurant in Asia three years running, might have put it best in a recent interview with the Bangkok Post:

“Our street food rocks. Can you beat khao man gai Pratunam [the famous Hainanese chicken rice in Pratunam] or a beer on a soi with mosquito bites? That’s the experience you cannot change. This is Bangkok and it should not change.”

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