Thai Boat Noodles

2 min readJun 10, 2016
Guay Tiao Ruea (ก๋วยเตี๋ยวเรือ)

This bowl of noodles immersed in a pork & beef-infused broth of deliciousness is known to the Thai locals as Guay Tiao Ruea (ก๋วยเตี๋ยวเรือ) or loosely-translated into English as “Boat Noodles”.

Definitely not the usual boring bowl of noodles in soup — as the broth is packed with a ton of flavour — combining ingredients like pickled bean curd, dark soy sauce, beef, pork, a combination of spices and the most interesting one of all, nam tok (น้ำตก)[which is basically the blood of a cow or pigs blood] mixed together with salt and added to season the soup.

The added nam tok gives the soup a distinct dark-maroonish colour (that almost resembles the colour of beef broth). It is usually topped with some fried garlic, pork crackling, bean sprouts, parsley, cilantro, morning glory, pig’s liver and meatballs (now, that’s a lot of ingredients and toppings jam packed into this tiny bowl! Not forgetting the interesting textures in every mouthful!).

To me a system of “don’t-ask-don’t-tell” works perfectly in this context, especially if no one tells me that there’s raw pigs/cow’s blood added into the soup — I’d definitely be a little less squirmish! ha. Although in all honesty, it really is damn tasty!

What’s interesting about this dish is not only the variety of ingredients used, but its unique name, boat noodles.

(I imagined that it might have some dark connotation of slavery on boats or something-related, but thankfully not!)

Merchant selling noodles on boat

This dish goes way back to 1942 where single merchants used to sell noodles directly from their boats — and that’s also where the logic of the small servings stemmed from — simply for convenience and safety of both the customer (receiving it from) and seller (serving it from the boat).

There are street carts to shops and restaurants selling it all over the country and you might still find some merchants selling it from boats — although I’ve yet to see it sold from boats! (not in the North of Thailand at least!)

I read that in some part of Bangkok the tradition is still alive!

Costs only 35–40 baht ($1-$1.20 USD) for this bowl of meaty-goodness! (whaaaat?!)





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