Where to eat boat noodles in Hua Hin

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Boat noodles from Nai Pop Shop

Pad thai might be Thailand’s best known noodle dish but locals are more likely to slurp their way through a bowl of boat noodles. 

The origins of boat noodles or kway teow rua, can be traced back to the 1700s in Bangkok and Ayutthaya where they were sold from boats at floating markets and canals – the major trade and transportation hubs of the day.

Vendors in wooden canoes would paddle up to potential customers offering shallow bowls of noodle soup, filled as such in order to avoid spillage.

Over time as the use of canals diminished the boat noodle vendors had no choice but to permanently migrate to land. 

The concept of boat noodles is simple: restaurants serve bowls of bite-sized portions of noodles with meat, topped off with fresh herbs in a broth.

You can choose between beef, pork or fish balls. 

But what makes the broth unique is that it’s traditionally a combination of soup and salted cow’s blood, which gives it its signature thick consistency and strong flavour. 

In addition, every noodle joint in Thailand has a condiment caddy on the table so you can add fresh chilli, chilli vinegar, sugar and fish sauce to taste.

Today, boat noodle restaurants can be found all over Thailand and Hua Hin is no exception. 

Hua Hin Today recently teamed up with local food tour operator Feast Thailand who showed us a number of different restaurants serving boat noodles in Hua Hin.

Rather than try to find the ‘best’ boat noodles, the aim of the tour was to highlight the different styles of boat noodles available locally.

​​We did a range of tasting from a really traditional Ayutthaya style, a more local version with the Phetchaburi style, to a more luxurious stewed beef version, (serving size 3 times the local size) that most people would find the flavour very accessible.

“Typically when you order boat noodles it will only be a small portion but it’s a dish that is all about flavour,” said Leigh Higgins from Feast Thailand. 

“Traditionally the broth includes cow’s blood but you can also order it without. However, it’s the cow’s blood that adds the real depth of flavour to the dish,” Leigh added.

“The fun is to try, taste and find out what you like.  Many places have an old wooden boat out the front of their shop which helps you understand that they sell boat noodles.”

“We just chose three to display the different flavour profiles,” Leigh explained. 

“But many chefs or cooks will also develop their own flavours to suit their palate and that is what sells for them.  This is what makes Thai food so good.”

ร้านนายป็อปไม่ต้องเติมก๋วยเตี๋ยวเนื้อ-หมู สูตรเพชรบุรี ไม่ต้องเติม (Nai Pop Shop, beef-pork noodles)

Nai Pop Shop

The first boat noodle restaurant we visited was tucked away off Soi Huay Mongkol 29. And by tucked away, we mean that you will almost certainly need to use Google Maps to find it (link below).

Leigh said the boat noodles served here were Phetchaburi style and included palm sugar (synonymous with the province) which made the dish a little sweeter than it may normally taste. 

We ordered our portion without cow’s blood, whereas Leigh opted for the traditional version. 

In comparing the two, we were able to understand Leigh’s comments in relation to the blood adding a depth of flavour. The version with cow’s blood was really very good and made the dish richer and more flavourful. 

Both bowls of noodles cost 40 THB each. There is no English menu.

📍 https://goo.gl/maps/3HD9PVw9HaASizjx9

 

Boat Noodle Mr. Kra

Boat Noodle Mr. Kra

Leigh said the noodles at Boat Noodle Mr Kra, which is located on the canal road towards Smorprong, is a more traditional Ayutthaya style. 

The soup is served here in small bowls not unlike the original way the traders on the boats in the canals of Thailand served it to hungry merchants.

Whilst we got one with and one with blood, the base broth here is the stand out.

This broth had a thickness to it as well being rich and deep in flavour.

Mr Kra

A small bowl of noodles is 30 THB and the larger, “phii-set” or extra is 40 THB, which is what we had. 

Like the restaurant serving the Phetchaburi style noodles, there is no English menu at Boat Noodle Mr Kra.

So to order in Thai you can say: 

Ao (Noodle Type) + (With or without blood) (protein Muu or Nuea) Guay Tiew rua.

📍 https://goo.gl/maps/mVo4jVABbqHhD1hn6

Avatar Garden

Boat noodles from Avatar Garden

The final stop on our tour was at Avatar Garden, the popular restaurant nestled down Soi 73. 

Avatar Garden is well known for its good food but its beef noodle soup is particularly popular and perhaps is a bit more accessible to expats or foreign tourists.

While the boat noodles here are perhaps a little less traditional than at the other places we tried, that didn’t take anything away from what was a tasty bowl of noodles. 

Avatar Garden

The first thing to say is that the portion size was absolutely huge and it’s not an exaggeration to say it was probably three or four times the size of bowls of noodles served at the other restaurants. 

The beef was plentiful and beautifully tender and the broth (we ordered without blood) was full of flavour.

The beef noodles at Avatar Garden cost 160 THB.

📍 https://goo.gl/maps/45q2h35KDeCehQxr6

A big thanks to Feast Thailand – Hua Hin’s #1 Food Tour Company – for showing us some of the different variations of boat noodles in Hua Hin. For more information, visit: https://feastthailand.com/

 

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