Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Two Faces of Baan Zan Market

Baan Zan Market
One of the great attractions in Patong Beach for food lovers is the Baan Zan Market with its multiple faces to attract visits all day and into the night.  If you are staying in Patong or one of the surrounding areas, I am sure you have heard mention of Baan Zan, either as a great place to shop for food to prepare or as an equally great place to get dinner or a quick snack, the ultimate in Thai fast food. 

During the day, from early morning until around 5 pm the inside of the large building serves as a gathering place for many vendors selling everything from fresh seafood to meats to vegetables to fruits and nuts and dry goods.  Heck upstairs there even several vendors selling clothing and a mini-food court where you can get lunch.  While this thriving market is open, the area around the building serves as a parking lot for motorbikes, cars and on the back sides for the many delivery trucks and vans. 

Having lived in Patong for a couple of years, I use the back entrance, there seems to always be plenty of parking for my motorbike and you are right into the meat and fresh seafood section of the market.  Using this entrance brings you right in at one of the many vendors selling prime cuts of pork, it is all laid out for you to see and the vendors will be more than happy to cut the meats to your wishes.   Directly across the aisle from the pork vendor at the entrance you will find the chicken vendor selling every part of the chicken you can imagine and perhaps some you hadn’t thought of.   Moving around the corner, we immediately come to a fresh seafood vendor, with many different size shrimp (price to match their size) and shell fish like clams and mussels.  Of course, there are more types of fresh fish available than I can name, all of various sizes.

Continuing our walk around the building, you will find a wide variety of vegetable in various stalls, all fresh from the local farms.  Not to worry, there are plenty of temping Thai spices that will allow you to season your dishes to your individual tastes.   Toward the south end of the building just inside the front side entrance there is a vast display of fruits to choose from, plenty of temping items to keep on hand as snacks during the night.  And just to the north of the fruits are other great snack items, nuts, dried fish and crackers.  And do not miss the flowers arrayed along the north, front wall they will brighten your day and your room.  As you can see, there is something for everyone at Baan Zan Market during the day. 

Ah, but we have not yet explored the second floor of the market, what hidden treasures lie up the escalator, there are two clothing stores along with a food court and seating area to allow shoppers to relax and enjoy some of the Thai cuisine available.

As the sun sets and the lighting changes, so Baan Zan Market changes; the interior market filled with its vast array of vendor’s empties and the parking lot is converted to an equally vast array of vendors selling prepared food, a mega-food court so to speak.   Just imagine taking all the small food carts that are scattered around Patong and putting them in one place and that will give you an idea of the Baan Zan parking lot in the early evening.

As you stroll among these vendors slowly making your way through the crowd and believe me it is crowded.  It should strike you that both locals and foreigners alike are all perusing the assortment of traditional Thai dishes and dishes from all over the world.  To me this is a good sign that the food is outstanding and good quality; this size market could not long survive if it offered less than high quality foods.  There are stalls with an incredible display of fresh seafood that they will cook to your order, perhaps you feel like grilled tonight or fried or streamed in a speciality sauce.  You might like to try a more traditional Thai dish of chicken or pork or fish in a variety of sauces (being careful to ensure that the dish is not spicier than your taste’s like, be sure to ask “pet mai?” which means is it spicy in Thai)

Here we see a women fixing individual portions of soup to order, that typifies the vendors at Baan Zan, they prepare individual servings so you and the others in your party can each get whatever strikes your fancy.   Do you like fresh steamed corn on the cobb, well there are several vendors selling it right out of the steamer for a mere 20 baht.  Or tonight your taste’s run to something with a Japanese flavor like sushi rolls, have no fear these are also available from multiple vendors.  So if you are looking for an interesting adventure in Thai shopping and food, I strongly recommend Baan Zan Market, both in the day and into the evening.

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