By Prapatson Jiemwongsa
A billboard as in the photo above is usually seen in many sectors in Bangkok. Its display shows the fame of Bangkok as the best city for street food in the world. As mentioned in the previous article that Bangkok is rated as the best street food city. Forbes, a well-known US magazine, gave Bangkok the first place in its 10 best cities for street food. Similarly, Telegraph, a famous British newspaper, rewarded Bangkok as the best city for street food in 2017. Besides, CNN, as shown in the photo above, agreed that Bangkok is the world’s best street food city for two years consecutively.
The reason why street food in Bangkok is remarkable and honoured as “The Heaven” for street food lovers is because street food in Bangkok is diverse and accessible throughout the city. The buyers can find it easily. Various kinds of food are available for them to choose. The street food stalls are in every direction – almost every block all over the city – and they are up for grabs almost all day.
Talking about street food, one organization that needs to be mentioned is “World Street Food Congress” as it is significant for street food’s movement and progress. The Congress annually holds an event which gathers street food from all over the world and arranges the seminar discussing issues and problems relating to street food in the aspect of buying, selling, business, and industrial development. Last year, World Street Food Congress was held in Manila, The Philippines. Looking back through time, this Congress has been developed from Makansutra, a Singaporean firm established with its aim to promote food and lifestyle in Asia.
In addition to the event – organized by World Street Food Congress – in order to boost the street food culture, the Congress commends cities, shops and magazines which excellently deliver or present street food. The ranking from World Street Food Congress is assessed by experienced judges from many countries. Its evaluation is based on every aspect of street food matters.
The award of the best street food given to the “city” was in 2013 (All prizes announced in 2017 were given to the shops). The best city for street food, according to The World Street Food Award 2013, is Singapore. The key criterion of the best city is that
“(The city) Actively engages in tripartite relationships between government, street food vendors and industry players to preserve, promote and celebrate comfort and street food culture. The city must also present opportunities for society to be a part of this food culture.”
In Singapore, the street food is organized in a form of “hawker centre”, and there are hundreds of them around the city. Each hawker consists of the affordable food, seats, and facilities for both sellers and buyers. Furthermore, Singapore runs the “Hawkerpreneurship” project among students for encouraging them to explore this kind of business, improve its quality, and this project also reduces the lack of street food vendors after this generation. As for Bangkok, although it was not rewarded as the best street food city in the world, one part of the city – Chinatown (Yaowarat Road) – was announced as one of the best three street food hawker centres, with the criteria saying that
“Showcasing the unique culture and flavours of comfort street food that preserves and promotes the best in their respective countries. Good hygiene and safety operation and environmental factors.”
As seen in the previous paragraphs, criteria between the rankings done by World Street Food Congress and other presses are different. If the criteria are about the convenience and variety of food, Bangkok will definitely be the first answer. However, if other dimensions are explored, they will show that the cooperation between sections relating to street food is needed to sustain the street food in the society. Furthermore, the collaboration plays role in supporting street food as an alternative in people’s living and as a culture of the society.
“The World’s Top 10 Cities for Street Food”. [n.d.]. Retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/pictures/ehlk45fiii/the-worlds-top-10-cities-for-street-food-3/#1e4279d933ef on March 14th, 2018.
Shea, G. “Best 23 cities for street food from Miami to Tokyo”. 2017 Retrieved from: https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/best-cities-street-food/index.html on March 14th, 2018.
“The 10 greatest cities for street food”. 2017. Retrieved from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/galleries/the-best-cities-for-street-food on March 14th, 2018.
World Street Food Congress. “The World Street Food Award: A recognition programme component of the World Street Food Congress”. 2013. Retrieved from: http://wsfcongress.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/20-June-2013.pdf on March 14th, 2018.