Pier 21 below the top floor cineplex at the Terminal 21 Mall (Asok BTS or Sukhumvit MRT) is a self service food hall that gathers Thai hawkers serving cooked to order popular dishes in airconditioned comfort. The sheer variety and pocket friendly prices makes it a great place to gather a few dining mates to order something from every stall to pool plates for an electic meal. Phad Thai (fried rice noodles), Som Tum (green papaya salad with dried shrimps), Sukothai Grilled Pork with Rice, Chicken Rice, Braised Duck with Noodles in Herbal Soup, Roast Meats, Pineapple Rice, Oyster Omelette, Wonton Noodles are just some of the dishes sold here, at incredible prices starting from 30 baht (about US$1) per serving. Desserts such as soya bean curd in sweet ginger soup are priced from 15 baht. The sheer variety of Thai dishes on sale at Pier 21 makes it a great one stop dining experience for tourists.
Pier 21 operates on a cashless system which ensures that the stall holders focus on food preparation without the need to handle cash. So there is no risk of food contamination arising from the hawker having to handle crummy notes and wet coins in between fixing the customers' food orders. There are several counters located throughout the food hall where diners can get a complimentary Pier 21 smart card and top it up in multiples of 100 baht. Present the card to the stallholder after ordering and he will deduct the cost of your dish from the stored value/balance in your card, together with a stub listing the amounts deducted and remaining on the card.
Pier 21 is always a hive of activity throughout the day, with the nearby office lunch crowds forming the majority on weekdays. Its popularity with the locals is testament to the authenticity and affordability of the food sold here. For those who prefer to dine in the privacy of their hotel rooms, food can be packed to go with disposable cutlery, at a nominal 5 baht surcharge.
During peak hours, each stall may have four or five persons in the queue but the hawkers here work their miracles quickly, so waiting time is usually only 10 minutes for rice and noodle soup. Stir fried stuff like oyster omelette will require 20 minutes wait during meal times but if one visits Pier 21 between 3pm-5pm or after 8:30pm (opens till 10pm), it is easy to find a table and most stalls have no queues.
For the solo diner with time for just one meal at Pier 21, I recommend a three course meal (with change left over for a 100 baht note) of green papaya dessert, an entree of either Phad Thai fried noodles, Beef Noodle Soup, Green Curry with Rice or Shrimp Paste Fried Rice, with a dessert or drink of either Tub Tim Krob ('rubies' of crunchy bits of water chestnut coated with cochineal tinted tapioca flour served with fresh coconut milk, syrup and shaved ice) or one of the tropical fruit frappes such as coconut 'ice blended' slush or passionfruit 'ice blended' slush (all priced at 20 baht each).
We had a great time at Pier 21 this evening and will return within the week to check out those stalls that we were to satiated to patronize today.
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