The connoisseur's cornucopia
Acclaimed as one of the world's best markets, Or Tor Kor spoils shoppers with choices, and here we pick the highlights for you
No supermarket in the world is like a fresh-food market -- particularly a Thai fresh-food market.
And speaking of markets, Bangkok's Or Tor Kor Market close to Chatuchak rises head and shoulders above the rest.
Last month, Or Tor Kor was listed by Travel CNN as one of the top 10 fresh markets in the world. Sharing this distinction were Tokyo's Tsukiji Fish Market, Spain's La Boqueria and London's Borough Market. The accompanying article hailed Or Tor Kor as "immaculate" and "packed with fresh products" unique to Thailand.
Operated by the Marketing Organization for Farmers, Or Tor Kor is a dazzling emporium of edibles and enemy No.1 to those trying to lose weight. It has operated since 1974, when it was set up by Market Organization for Farmers (thus the Thai abbreviation Or Tor Kor) to help farmers and fruit growers sell their produce and encourage them to add value to their commodities. The market covers 6,000m², with a third given free-of-charge to small-scale organic farmers.
Though from humble origins, Or Tor Kor has grown in popularity over the last 40 years to become known as a hi-so fresh market. Vendors sell select quality products hard to find anywhere else, resulting in higher-than-average prices.
Kamolwit Kaewfaek, director of the Market Organization for Farmers, said in an interview with Post Today this month that even though customers tend to pay more at Or Tor Kor, quality is guaranteed. "We can trace the source of every produce sold here, and every vendor is responsible for refunding to ensure customer satisfaction."
The clean, well-lit market is well organised -- with meat, seafood, dried food, fresh vegetables, fruits, rice and consumer goods neatly grouped in designated locations. There is also a food court, worth a visit on its own, selling reasonably priced foods from duck noodles, to pork satay, to curry-topped rice.
But with its nearly hundred stalls, it may be hard to choose which shop to buy from. To make life a bit easier, the Bangkok Post visited Or Tor Kor to pick some highlights from the market.
Somsri Mango Shop.
Somsri Mango Shop
It's hard to miss Somsri Mango Shop with its brightly-lit booth, blinking LED sign and giant hanging mangoes. The shop, which sells magnificently sweet Nam Dok Mai, Kieaw Sawoey and R2E2 mangoes, also sells mango sticky rice and dried mango products. The prices vary upon the size of the mango, with the small Nam Dok Mai mangoes selling at 120 baht per kilo. Like every other shop in Or Tor Kor, you can ask the sellers to pack the fruits safely if you will be carrying them on a flight.
Booths 6/34 and 6/35. Open every day, 08.00-18.30.
Ta Toy Khon Rayong durian shop.
Ta Toy Khon Rayong Durian Shop
Ta Toy (Grandpa Toy) has been selling the King of Fruits for more than 15 years. All of the durian that he sells is grown from carefully selected farmland that he rents out. Crunchy on the outside, custardy on the inside, and without too pungent a smell, his Kan Yao durians are a must-try. The Kan Yao season will start fully next month and only last 2-3 months. If you miss it, you'll have to try his Monthong durian instead -- said to be richer and sweeter in taste. Ta Toy recommends calling first to claim the best available. He can also deliver them to your home.
Booths 8/30 and 7/26. Open every day, 07.00-17.00.
Call 089 818 6530, or Line @ta-toy.
Bumroong Fruit shop.
For those looking for every fruit that's not mango or durian, Bumroong Fruits has got you covered. Situated at a corner stall between a dozen other fruit shops, Bumroong Fruits, which has been selling in the market for 30 years, sells both local and imported products. Their apples are from America, their plums are from New Zealand, and right now, they recommend buying their ultra-sweet local lychees.
Booths 5/8 and 5/9. Open Weekdays, 07.30-08.00, weekends 10.00-18.00.
Pradit Fresh Vegetables shop.
Pradit Fresh Vegetables
With only five vegetable stalls in the whole market, Pradit Fresh Vegetables offers the most variety of greens. True to the name, the countless types of vegetables stacked neatly in the booth are fresh, colourful and also chemical free. Having sold in the market for 20 years, they sell products from local farms all over Thailand like Nakhon Pathom, Pak Chong, Chiang Mai and more. They recommend trying out their water mimosas and Brussels sprouts.
Booths 3/17, 3/18 and 3/19. Open Weekdays 05.30-17.00, weekends 04.30-17.00.
Nuad beef shop.
Nuad has been in business for 30 years and is the most knowledgeable about beef in the market. Known for their quality cuts, carefully selected from local cattle farms, they sell soft, quality fillets at 600 baht per kilo, suitable to fry, bake and grill. Cheaper cuts would be the sirloin, at 450 baht per kilo, and the T-bone steak, at 350 baht per kilo.
Booth 1/9 and 1/10. Open every day from 08.30-18.00.
Malee Or Tor Kor seafood shop.
Malee Or Tor Kor Seafood
Giant freshwater shrimp, giant squid and bags stuffed full of fresh crabmeat. Malee Seafood is the biggest shop selling fresh seafood in the market. You can find over 10 variations of shrimp in the store, with the jumbo freshwater shrimp going at 1,300 to 1,500 baht per kilo. The 30-year-old store gets its products from various places around Thailand, with the jumbo shrimp coming fresh from the Mae Klong River.
Booth 2/15. Open every day 06.00-18.00.
Kasemsap chilli-paste and dried-foods shop.
For dried foods, head over to Kasemsap, right at the back of the market. Having sold dried products for 45 years, Kasemsap started out with only one product -- their famous shrimp paste. As the years have passed, they've become known for their savoury dried shrimp, dried mussels, sun-dried salted mackerel and dried squid.
Booths 3/57, 3/58, 3/63 and 3/64. Open every day 08.30-18.00.
Call 080-046-1997, 02-279-8729 or 085-042-4424.
Jae Pook's Kitchen food shop.
Jae Pook's Kitchen
Jae Pook's Kitchen has two stalls in the Or Tor Kor market. The first sells classic Thai curries and seafood dishes like crab and fish cakes, steamed sea bass with soy sauce, and fried grouper doused in sweet and spicy sauce. Most famous is their crab kanoom jeen naamya, (rice-flour-noodles with crab curry), which costs 50 baht per set. Jae Pook's second stall is close by, selling perfectly cooked and de-shelled seafood like grilled prawns and steamed crab with their seafood dip. It may be a bit pricey, but the taste is worth it.
Booths 9/8, 9/9, 9/10 and 9/11. Open everyday 08.30-19.30.
Kaeng Malee food shop.
Standing opposite Jae Pook is Mae Malee's little corner shop. Considered the symbol of Or Tor Kor market, the shop, which has been running for more than 10 years, sells Thai dishes and seafood, and is most famous for its stir-fried river prawns. Dishes also include stir-fried pork ribs, fried crabmeat with curry powder and whole fried sea bass.
Booths 9/11 and 9/12. Open every day 08.30-18.00.
Kao Pee Nong Thai sweets shop.
Kanomthai Kao Pee Nong
When locals think of Or Tor Kor sweets, they think of Kao Pee Nong (Nine Siblings). In business for 30 years, Kao Pee Nong is like a museum of Thai desserts, selling classic Thai sweets like thong yip thong yod (egg-yolk tarts), wun (jelly), kanom chan (layered sweet cake) and takoh (pudding with coconut-milk topping). And for those who want to try a bit of everything, they have baskets with a variety of different sweets. However, Kao Pee Nong doesn't sell only sweets. They have a selection of savoury snacks like pork-filled tapioca dumplings and mini fish puffs as well.
Booths 9/31 to 9/40. Open every day 08.30-18.30.
Or Tor Kor Market — 01 Thanon Kamphaeng Phet, Chatuchak, Bangkok 10900
Open every day, opening hours of each shop vary
MRT: Kamphaeng Phet Station, Exit 3