Covid-19 fatalities shock Bangkok’s iconic street-food shops, heirs to step forward

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Mr Adulwitch Tangsupmanee drives a cart of crispy pork belly to a run-down theatre in Bangkok’s Chinatown every morning and sets up the same street-food concession his globally known father maintained for over 50 years until dying in July of Covid-19.
Mr Adulwitch carefully lays a framed picture of his late father, Chanchai, on top of the stall’s window display – emblazoned with Michelin guide honours from 2018 to 2021 – as the aromatic pork broth simmers. Mr Adulwitch, 42, said, “I cooked the broth for my father when he was here, and I continue to make it now that he’s gone.” “I believe he’s still alive.”
Known to many as Oan’s brother, Chanchai stood behind the same cart selling “Guaijab” roll rice noodle soup for decades until his death at 73. In recent months, he was one of the least seven famous street chefs whose famous street food scene in Bangkok lost to the coronavirus. This is the latest blow to the food stall culture.
The death of Chanchai and his contemporaries is a rich taste in the hands of children who vow to carry on the tradition that has made Bangkok a mecca for food stalls worldwide for decades. I left a legacy.
Mr Adulwitch expects that when the city reopens to foreign tourists on Monday (Nov 1), people will line up again for his father’s noodle soup, which will help him cope with his grief.
Before the epidemic, Bangkok’s street-food sellers were already under strain, having experienced evictions and prohibitions due to the city’s recent efforts to “clean up” streets. At the same time, more sophisticated and fashionable eateries sprung up everywhere.

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