It’s been almost a year since our last visit to Thailand. And I have to admit, missing Thai street food is the worst thing for me.
Because missing Thailand is not about the beaches, it’s not about the weather, it’s not about the smiles of lovely Thai people. It’s all about that smell of fried chilies, of fish sauce, of durian. It’s the excitement of waiting for the meal to arrive on the table on that lovely plastic flowery plate. And it’s going to look like it came from a five-star kitchen anyway! Or at least it’s sure as hell going to taste like that, maybe even better.
Thai street food is what I’m always trying to replicate while at home, but it’s hard to do on an electric hob. Thai takeaways in the UK are never like the real deal, either (or I’m just incredibly unlucky when it comes to takeaways).
I’ve never had a pad thai better than my favourite ones we always have in Bangkok. Greg makes a killer pad thai, it’s absolutely fantastic, but it’s not quite like the original, just like I can never make my Pho taste the same way as the one we used to always eat in Saigon.
So since I’m starving even from looking at these pictures and since misery loves company, I’ll share with you our Thai street food memories.
Visiting Thailand for the first time? This gallery is for you!
You won’t need any more recommendations and guide books. If these mouth-watering photos of Thai delicacies won’t convince you, nothing else will!
If you’re planning a first-time visit to Thailand, you need to do your research about the food you’ll find there, too – ahead of time!
See also: 15 Luxury Bangkok Hotels Under $50 USD with Swimming Pools and 10 Best Hotels in Bangkok Under $50 USD near Suvarnabhumi Airport
Yes, I’m aware, there are some classic Thai dishes missing – but these are OUR favourites. Our absolute favourites. So don’t judge me for being that pad kra pao loving farang – I can’t get that basil where I live. And it will be the first meal I order when I’m back in Thailand.
Enjoy. And don’t starve.
What I really appreciate about food in Thailand is that they use a lot of fresh aromatic herbs and crisp vegetables. It makes Thai food much easier to digest than food in the UK or in Poland.
We love walking around fresh markets full of colorful fruit and veg. Makes us want to eat healthier!
Thailand is not just noodles, curries and rice, but also fantastic fruit that you just must try. Durians, Thai mangoes, dragon fruit, jackfruit, even watermelons – are NOTHING like the ones back home.
When you’re on a fresh market, don’t be shy to look around and examine herbs and veg that you’re not familiar with. Have a little sniff, compare it to stuff you know – broaden your foodie horizons, you won’t be sorry!
I find it really interesting how simple most of the dishes in Thailand are. Considering Thai food’s aromatic value I’m always shocked how quick and easy it is to make most of these dishes back home (as long as you have the right ingredients).
Pad Kra Pao Moo is one of the most famous and widely-available dishes in Thailand. Anywhere you go, whether it’s a little bit more of a posh restaurant or just a little stall in the middle of nowhere, if you ask for pad kra pao, you’ll be given this lovely spicy dish. And at first you’ll say “I never want to eat this again”, but then you’ll crave it, order it again and every time you eat it, it will seem less spicy and more flavoursome.
Red pork noodle soup is another very popular dish on Thai streets. Usually served with LOADS of coriander – so most people either love it or hate it.
Below you see another take on Thai fried rice, served with a choice of meat or just tofu, if you’re a vegetarian.
One of Greg’s all-time favourites in Thailand is Kao Ka Moo, a cooked pork leg, usually served over rice with thin gravy.
Of course, we can’t post this article without mentioning curries. Curries are BIG in Thailand and vary in taste and level of spice. Some prefer a mild, creamy massaman curry (picture above) while others would rather go for Thai green curry. Personally, I love the smell of curry more than the taste of it, especially Thai green curry. And if I’m gonna be honest, in the past couple of weeks I’ve been missing Thailand so much, I ate green curry about three times a week. No regrets.
Seasoned deep fried insects are quite a popular snack in Thailand. Often available at local markets and as much as tourists don’t often dare to try them, sometimes you will find them on more touristy markets next to grilled scorpions.
Greg’s tried the little snack mix on the above photo on Koh Chang and claimed that some of the insects tasted ‘nutty’. Oh, God, he literally just said to me They actually tasted alright, like an alright snack to be honest. But hey, he’s the one who always eats random stuff when we travel – here’s a video of my lovely boyfriend eating tarantulas in Cambodia. That was fun to watch!
Sushi can be found, surprisingly, on many local markets. It looks pretty good, too, but is rarely kept in a fridge, so it might not be what you’re used to. It’s worth a try though! But if you really want sushi, we’d recommend going to a sushi bar in Thailand. There’s plenty to choose from, it’s quite cheap, and the quality will be much better than on a market.
The thing about western food in Thailand though, it’s almost never nearly as good as it looks or as you remember it being from back home. The above burger was alright, but it was TINY. I was not impressed, but the crave was real – 6 months into a trip with only Thai food on a daily basis. I just needed a burger.
But you need to be aware of Thai versions of ‘western’ food. Because sometimes you’ll have a Thai or a Western version of breakfast available to choose from and while the Thai version will look like this…
The western version will look like that:
And the bread will be sweet as well, just like Thai mayonnaise.
A tip for first-timers in Thailand – eat at food courts. If you see a shopping mall, there is a big chance they have a food court on the top floor or on the basement floor. They usually serve fresh Thai street food that tastes amazing, but you get to eat it in an airconed room!
Aaaand, we can’t forget about desserts. And there’s plenty of those available as well, but most of the time you’ll probably find yourself too stuffed to eat any.
The dessert culture in Thailand seems to be much different to Thai food culture in general because most deserts you’ll find in shopping centers or in little cafes strictly dedicated to specific types of desserts. I probably wouldn’t call these desserts street food, but since we’re already taking a stroll down the memory lane…
Raindrop Cake is a good example of desserts on a more pricey side in shopping centers in Bangkok. Kyo Roll En is a popular chain serving these gorgeous looking cakes. When we saw their menu, we just couldn’t resist.
What about street food desserts in Thailand, though?
What you can see above is shaved ice with raspberry syrup and condensed milk. Now, this is a dessert you can find on the street and it’s actually pretty darn good. Extremely effective to cool yourself down during heatwaves and it’s a good, caffeine-free alternative to iced coffee and tea.
You can usually easily recognize stalls serving these kinds of desserts or iced drinks. They tend to have a whole row of big bottles with flavoured syrups in the front.
Speaking of cold drinks, coconut water is another popular option you’ll find in Thailand. Usually slightly sweetened and with pieces of coconut floating on top.
You’ll often see vendors selling fruity ice lollies you might find yourself craving in hot Thai weather. But we both prefer ice-cream than lollies, to be honest.
That’s another one of Greg’s favourites. Coconut ice cream with coconut jelly and various toppings on a side. One touristy place where you can always get it in Bangkok is Chatuchak Weekend Market. I like coconut ice cream too, but nothing beats our next contestant…
CHOCONANAS, ladies and gents. Yes, I am being serious. Frozen bananas dipped in hot chocolate and topped with your choice of nuts. OH MY GAWD. Heaven! I can’t go to Chatuchak and not have a chocolate banana.
Last word of advice regarding Thai food?
Thais like their chillies, okay? They like it spicy. So if you’re a first timer in Thailand, if it is your first visit, pace yourself. It’s ok to ask for food without chilli or just with a little bit at first. Too much chilli can ruin the pleasure of eating and just to put it simply, cause you pain. Sometimes even the next day! 😉
That’s it, lovely people! I’ll mention one more time – I’m aware that Thai cuisine is much more than what we’ve shown in this gallery. However, these are our favourite food memories from Thailand. And you can’t hold that against us!
What are your favourite Thai street food dishes? Let us know in the comments below.
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