Thailand is the ultimate foodie paradise. There is an endless variety of different dishes and with the food so cheap you could almost spend entire days going from one meal to the next.
Since street food and vendors are so popular just walking down the street in Bangkok could provide your next best meal.
You’ll see woks with noodles being tossed about, large wooden mortars where shreds of papaya are lightly crushed, fruit stands, smoothie stalls, and many more .
Besides street food another great alternative for a cheap meal (and with more comfortable seating arrangements) is at the malls in Bangkok.
Not to be confused with American mall food courts, these Thai food courts have tons of different stations set up specializing in certain dishes and you walk around until you find what your heart desires. We’ve tried many dishes and all of them have been significantly better than anything I every had in a US mall food court.
And when I say that the mall eateries are more expensive than the street food, it’s a matter of a noodle dishes going from $1 to $1.33. Not a big difference.
A into to some of my favorite Thai dishes:
Green Papaya Salad :
This is practically the country’s national dish and can be found everywhere. Unripe papaya is shredded into long slivers and mashed in a wooden (not stone) mortar along with long beans, dried shrimp, tomatoes, chilies and crushed peanuts. The sauce is a mix of palm sugar, fish sauce and lime juice and is a perfect balance between sweet, salty and sour. Thais can handle up to a handle of bird’s eye chilies in their salad but I suggest you start out with just one. This dish is incredibly refreshing and perfect after a hot day out.
One of the most famous dishes abroad Pad Thai is a noodle dish made with thin rice noodles, stir fried with shrimp, eggs, and bean sprouts. The dish is served with a sliver of lime, crushed peanuts, and dried red chilies for additional flavor. Seemingly simple it is quite difficult to get the balance right in the sauce, making sure to add enough of each ingredient to just highlight the next without overpowering all of them. You’ll see vendors making Pad Thai all along Khao San Road (the backpacker district in Bangkok) and there the prices ranges from 30-50 baht ($1-2).
Unlike the curries of India, Thai curries incorporate a completely different set of ingredients and spices. The curry pastes are traditionally made in a mortar with bird’s eye chilis, lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, garlic and a wide array of roasted spices. The curries vary in consistency, with green curry resembling a soupy mixture and red curries generally thicker and can be ordered with seafood, chicken, or meat. Coconut milk is always in the cooking process to create the sauce and the flavor is truly incredible. The store bought curry pastes do not even come close to the home made ones and any restaurant with its own curry paste is bound to be a winner. The smell of the sauce alone will have you licking your fingers in anticipation. Some of my favorites are the red and green curry but do take the time to try the other as well; penang, yellow, massaman, etc.
Thailand has some incredible fish dishes that can be prepared just about any way. Ranging from deep fried, to grilled to steamed the fresh fish is delicious with the accompanying Thai style sauce. Look out for the salt coated grilled fish at the floating markets, and the steamed fish served in a lime soupy sauce in the restaurants. The fish is fresh and the preparation may be simple but the flavor really comes through in the various sauces which perfectly complement the soft and rich fish. My favorite fish dish by far is X X X served in a long fish shaped metal platter elevated on top of an open flame which is lit at the table to allow the surrounding sauce to come to a boil.
Wide Rice Noodle Dishes (Pad See Ew)
I personally love rice noodles. I find them so much tender than the Italian pasta counterpart and especially when fresh the asian style noodles just melt right in your mouth. I find this to be the case specifically with the wide rice noodles – the main component of Pad See Ew – one of my all time Thai favorites. The noodles are stir fried with meat or seafood, greens, an egg and a soy sauce based sauce. The sauce combines regular soy sauce with a thicker sweeter soy and additional spices. This dish simply melts on your tongue. Better than ice cream I tell you!
On your next trip to Thailand be sure to check out some of these dishes and let me know what some of your favorites are!