COVID deaths rock Bangkok's famous food stalls

Every morning, Adulwitch Tangsupmanee sets up a noodle cart that's run for decades in Bangkok's Chinatown.

As part of his daily ritual, he carefully places a framed picture of his late father, Chanchai, on top of the stall's window display.

He's determined to honor the memory of his father, who ran the stall for nearly 50 years before dying of COVID-19 in July.

Alongside the picture are Michelin guide accolades from 2018 to 2021.

"I will have to continue this business. This shop was what my father loved the most, and I love him most. I have to keep it going, no matter what."

"We never saw this disease coming into this world. It emerged in China one day and we never thought it would take so many lives, or that it would happen to our family."

Adulwitch's father is one of at least seven well-known sidewalk chefs that Bangkok's renowned street-food scene has lost to coronavirus in recent months, according to a Reuters tally.

Even before the pandemic hit the vendors were under stress.

Most of them are first or second-generation Chinese immigrants who could support their families on the strength of a single dish.

But in recent years, they've faced evictions and bans from the city's efforts to "clean up" sidewalks, while more upscale and trendy restaurants sprang up everywhere.

Still - Adulwitch has legions of loyal customers.

"People knew that this stall is the famous one. When they come over to Chinatown, they know that they have to come eat at the rolled rice noodle under the old cinema building. It's made the Chinatown street famous."

With Bangkok set to reopen to foreign visitors on Monday, Adulwitch hopes foreign customers will again line up for his father's noodle soup.

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