When travelling to Thailand, one of the best things you can do is eat! In this country, you can enjoy all the lovely flavours in one bowl. I’m fortunate enough to be staying and travelling around Asia where I can always have access to Thai food. But of course, nothing beats getting them in the most authentic way possible – in the restaurants or food stalls in Bangkok’s busy streets.
And whenever I get the chance, these are the 5 dishes that I always indulge in.
by Sofia Angeli
Thai Street Food & Restaurants – 5 Great Dishes
Tom Yum Gung – For Seafood Lovers
This is the one that’s on top of my list. Maybe it’s because I’m a seafood lover. But maybe it’s also because it simply tastes amazing. It has an explosion of all the flavours that I like – sour, salty, spicy, sweet, and even creamy.
It’s a bowl of soup featuring shrimps and mushrooms and oozing with the Asian tastes of kaffir lime leaves, galangal and lemongrass. You can take it with coconut milk, which really makes it an incredible concoction. But if you want to stay away from the creamy ingredient, you can specify that when you order. You can tell that I prefer the original version.
Pad Thai – The classic cheap street food in Thailand
You’ll find various rice noodle recipes in most Asian countries, and this one’s a real favourite not just for me, but for many tourists. Imagine the tastes of bean sprouts, garlic, green onions, peanuts, scrambled egg, shrimps and tofu combined with the classic Thai seasoning combo of fish sauce, lime juice, sugar and chilli peppers.
You’ll find this treat everywhere in Thailand – from the outlets in luxury hotels to the street stalls. And it’s great as a meal or as an accompaniment to another Thai dish that you like.
Yam Plah Duk Foo – A tasty Appetiser
If you find it hard to memorise the local name of this dish, try “crispy catfish and green mango salad.” Because that is what this dish is all about. The fish and fruit are bonded by cilantro, lime, red onions, peanut sauce and sugar. The shredded catfish, by the way, is deep-fried so it’s light and crunchy – adding texture to the already incredible tastes of the dish.
This is a great appetiser to a main course of fried rice and some basil-flavoured chicken or seafood. Like all the other dishes here, you can find this in almost every food establishment in Bangkok and all over Thailand.
Gaeng Kiew Wan Gai – A mild Curry
Here’s another challenge for non-speakers of Thai. You can easily call it green curry chicken in English. It’s often preferred by those who aren’t into the spicier type of Thai dishes.
Aside from chicken, it has lots of eggplant and some basil and kaffir lime leaves. The green curry paste is traditionally made from lemongrass, chillies, shallots, galangal, cilantro, basil, fish sauce and a host of spices.
You can also find green curry dishes with seafood or all vegetables, instead of chicken. But chicken is the more traditional one and is the most-loved by both locals and travellers.
Khao Niew Ma Muang – A Refreshing Dessert
And I just have to have this dessert. It’s a perfect way to cap a meal, especially with dishes that are more on the spicy side. It looks like a small pillow of soft, sticky rice topped with ripe mangoes that Thailand is famous for. It’s drizzled with coconut cream for a final touch.
What’s great about these dishes is that you can find them on the menus of almost all commercial food shops in the country. It’s best to enjoy these treats in one of the restaurants or carts along the streets after a tiring shopping spree or on a relaxing trip to an authentic Thai spa.
Hopefully you this piece on the best dishes in Thailand. Read our Thailand backpacking route for more inspiration with plenty of great destinations for tucking into the best Thai street food and dishes. For more general tips, learn how to eat and drink cheap while travelling the world.
About the author
Sofia Angeli is a PR & communications consultant for companies in various industries. In particular, she brings her writing skills and passion for culture and travel to the online world, including cheapflights.com.au.
This article was first published in February 2013.