It was lunchtime, and I was feeling like having a few bowls of Thai boat noodles. When we think of boat noodles in Thailand, we often think of these two areas, Victory Monument and along the Rangsit canal.
As curious as I was, I wondered which area had more shops and was an authentic boat noodles area. Because of my data-driven thinking, I could not just guess. We have Google Maps with loads of information. Today, we would like to get everyone through Google Maps to find out the answer!
We drew a 1 km radius around the centre of Victory Monument and drew a line from Rangsit Khlong Sam (The third Rangsit canal) to Dreamworld to see how many shops there were for each area.
After we collected data from Google Maps, the result revealed that in a 1 km radius from Victory Monument, there are 124 restaurants. Those restaurants vary from Tam sang (cooked to order food), Esan food, Korean food, Indian food, western food, chicken rice, stewed pork, roll noodle, and buffet. The top 5 highest numbers are:
- Noodle shops: 27 shops
- Tam Sang (cooked to order shops): 21 shops
- Esan restaurants: 13 shops
- Boat noodle shops: 12 shops
- Buffets: 8 shops
Even though there are not many boat noodle shops, noodle shops are still the first ones in the ranking. Then, Victory Monument can still be considered a noodle area.
Almost everyone considers Victory Monument as a famous boat noodle area, despite the unexpectedly small number of boat noodle shops. The reason is that 50 years ago, along the Samsen canal beside Victory Monument, no fewer than 20 noodle boats were selling a small bowl of boat noodles with a strong flavour, starting from just 3 baht. What made these noodles extraordinary is fried garlic, a signature of boat noodles here.
Since then, several boats have moved ashore, for example, Nam Fon Boat Noodles and Pa Yak Boat Noodles. This is why Victory Monument has always been remembered as a popular boat noodle area in Thailand.
Next, let’s go through another famous area, the Rangsit canal. Along the Rangsit canal road, we always see plenty of boat noodle shops standing on a raft.
We limited the search to a 5.8 km line from Rangsit Klong Sam to Dreamworld. We counted only shops that are along the canal. As a result, there are only 38 restaurants in this area. What is surprising is that in these 38 shops, there are 19 boat noodle shops. The top 5 highest numbers are:
- Boat noodles shops: 19 shops
- Tam Sang (cooked to order shop): 6 shops
- Esan restaurants: 4 shops
- Yum shops (Thai dressed salad): 2 shops
- Noodles shops: 2 shops
Rangsit is considered a boat noodle area because it has a lot of small canals connecting to one another. We refer to them as Khlong Nueng, Khlong Song, Khlong Sam. The environment was easy for the boats to travel, so there were a lot of boat noodle vendors. Then, several boats also move ashore. The shops dispersed around the Rangsit area. Some moved to a building, while some stayed along the canal with half of the shop on the big raft, providing an authentic feeling for customers.
Fun Fact: Why are boat noodles always served in a small bowl?
In the past, vendors sold noodles on the boat. There was only one vendor who had to do anything from paddling to cooking. Speed and ease were important for selling from the boat, especially when handing the bowl to customers. If they used the big bowl full of soup, being careful not to spill the soup would slow down the process. So, boat noodles are always served in a small bowl with a little soup and strong flavour. That’s why only one bowl is never enough. Yum yum!
Written by: Sertis