3 baht noodles

Citylife salutes 75 year old Auntie Kampan Saengsuwan, who continues to buck the inflationary trend and sells a bowl of delicious noodles for just 3 baht.

By | Sun 1 May 2016

With prices for food sky rocketing — rice, eggs, mama noodles, chicken…well just about everything — it is getting harder and harder to find a bargain. And a quality bargain? Forget about it.

One family noodle shop, against all odds (and economics) has been selling bowls of noodles for 3 baht for nearly thirty years. Fondly called Three Baht Noodles or Behind Prince Royal Noodles, this family business is now being run by the fifth member of the same family in three decades, though its founder, Auntie Nai, has since passed.

The matriarch, Auntie Kampan Saengsuwan, 75, now oversees the humble business, set in a prefab shack with few frills. There are a selection of rice and egg noodles with pork, chicken or beef, each bowl coming in at only 3 baht. Khao soy is also available, but at a whopping 25 baht a bowl, and satay is freshly grilled and served at 40 baht a dish.

“My daughter now runs the business,” said Auntie Kampan. “We use the old soup recipe and the quality hasn’t changed at all in all these years, neither has the size.”

“I’ve been coming here for just about thirty years,” said a regular, Som, who owns a successful textile business in Chiang Mai. “It brings back such memories. Thirty years ago I used to have to order about seven or eight dishes to be full, now it is closer to ten. But it is still such a bargain!”

As the lunch crowd arrives, teachers, government workers, office staff, the odd backpacker, and a growing number of Chinese group tours, the staff bustle around taking orders, serving and importantly, washing dishes. As minutes pass, tables begin to clutter with bowls of noodles, some looking most impressive with stacks of dozens upon dozens of bowls teetering on the tables.

“I don’t think that the portion has gone down in thirty years,” said Som. “But maybe there are more noodles and less meat. I don’t know how they do it.”

“The costs of ingredients haven’t gone up that much,” insisted auntie Kampan. “The biggest cost is that of the noodle bowls themselves which has doubled from 10 baht to 20 baht, but as they are plastic they last a long time. We rotate our dish washers, because it is such a huge task to wash so many dishes,” she laughs.

In addition to the cheap-as-dirt noodles, they also sell drinks such as iced coffees and teas at 5 baht a glass and all the fresh vegetables are free.

If you want to take some noodles home, however, the minimum order is for a 10 baht bag.

For now, auntie insists the price will remain the same. But with inflation the way it is, you’d best head over soon in case — gasp! — you have to pay 3 baht a bowl.

Open daily 7am-5pm
Rattanakosin Road, T. Wat Gate (down Soi 1 behind Prince Royal College)
086 6582000, 053 390469