My heart skips a beat just thinking about the plethora of culinary options in Bangkok. A new possibility exists around every corner and it’s so much fun to explore. We are in no way experts in Thai cuisine, but we’re certainly in love with eating it.
If you love food, you just have to love Bangkok. It’s one of the world’s greatest food cities!
Thai food is one of the best things about living in Asia, whether you’re just passing through or actually living here. While living in Bangkok (Nonthaburi to be exact) for a year, we often spent our spare time venturing into the city to wander and eat. This list came from those journeys and hot humid nights!
We’ve put twenty of our favorites into this mini food guide to help you make the most of your visit to BKK. Without further ado, let’s get to the tasty stuff. Here are 20 Thai foods you must try in Bangkok, Thailand!
1. Som Tam Thai (Green Papaya Salad)
Let’s begin with a classic! This delicious crunchy spicy salad is made mostly from shredded unripe green papayas. It also includes fresh garlic, palm sugar, lime, fish sauce, tomatoes, long beans, dried shrimp, and bird’s eye chilies.
The ingredients are then mixed and pounded with a pestle and mortar. There are several different variations of Som Tam, but the way it’s made remains the same. Some of the styles have rice paddy crab, fish paste, and other ingredients.
Som Tam Thai is our favorite! This healthy salad goes great with grilled chicken and sticky rice, or anything for that matter.
2. Khao Man Gai (Steamed Chicken on Rice)
Translating to “chicken oil rice” this is the Thai version of Hainanese chicken rice that originates from southern China and is the national dish of Singapore. It’s so simple and satisfying. Cheap too!
I used to eat this several times a week, because it was only 35-40 baht ($1). There was a friendly mom- and-daughter ran stall in the market near my work, it became a staple for me.
First, the whole chicken is poached in water with garlic and ginger. Next, the resulting fat along with some of the liquid is skimmed off and used to make a more flavorful, fragrant rice. Most stalls offer a dipping sauce of fresh chili, garlic, and ginger.
It’s garnished with cool cucumbers and at times a piece of blood cake. Served with a side of clear chicken broth containing daikon radish and cilantro. Top it off with white pepper and enjoy!
3. Pad Krapow Moo (Fried Holy Basil Pork)
This is one of the most widely eaten dishes in all of Thailand. Wok fried pork with garlic, bird’s eye chilies, a dash of sweet oyster sauce, light and dark soy sauces, and a handful of Thai holy basil leaves.
It’s a street food classic that’s good to eat anytime of the day. The Thai holy basil makes this dish something special. Be sure to order it kai dao, with a fried egg on top. A side of nam pla prik (Thai dipping sauce) goes well with it too.
4. Yam Woon Sen (Glass Noodle Salad)
A spicy, tangy glass noodle salad containing fresh celery, tomatoes, shrimp, onions, bird’s eye chilies, lime juice, fish sauce, cilantro, scallions, garlic, and minced pork. One bite of this beauty sends your mouth into a frenzy. Sindhya loves this dish. It’s a low-calorie masterpiece!
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5. Plakapong Tod Yum Mamuang (Deep Fried Sea bass with Green Mango Salad)
This next dish is one you likely won’t find at your local Thai restaurant back home. It would be a shame to leave Thailand without trying fried fish of some variation. We enjoyed seafood often and this is the one we really liked!
The fish is fried to perfection, crispy and flaky, and not too oily. Dress it with a sour green mango salad and you’ve got a sublime combination!
6. Khao Mok Gai (Thai Chicken Biryani)
Translating to “rice bury chicken” this is a popular and mouthwatering Muslim dish! Like any biryani, the rice is prepared with a lot of spices and herbs and the meat is buried inside. The result is meat that’s fall off the bone tender.
Topped with crispy fried shallots and served with nam jim, a beautiful minty green dipping sauce, and fresh cucumbers. Furthermore, this dish is a nice change up in taste from the brighter Thai dishes.
7. Khao Moo Daeng Moo Krob (Red BBQ Pork and Crispy Pork over Rice)
This is a sinful savory Thai Chinese hybrid dish that’s all about the textures. Tender barbecued pork, crispy fried pork belly, sweet and fatty Chinese sausage, all topped with an addictive thick red sauce, served on fluffy jasmine rice. It also comes with a hard boiled egg and cucumbers on the side.
It’s a rich meal and maybe not one that we ate often, but it’s definitely worth a try. Pork three ways on one plate!
8. Hoy Tod (Oyster or Mussels Omelette)
Hoy Tod is a fried crispy egg and tapioca flour pancake, filled with crunchy bean sprouts and scallions, fresh oysters or mussels or both. Served with white pepper and garnished with cilantro.
We like this with nam pla prik also to give it a bit more salt and spice. Another special mix of textures alternating between chewy, gooey, and crispy. Aroi mak mak!
9. Guay Teow Ruea (Thai Boat Noodle)
Bangkok was once known as “Venice of the East.” This hearty noodle dish originated in the canals of the city. Sold by people from boats, they made small bowls and put less broth in them so that they were easier to hand over to customers on land.
It contains rice or egg noodles, pork and beef or both, basil, cilantro, bean sprouts, garlic, diced morning glory, meatballs and pig liver (optional). The broth is spiced and rich by being thickened with nam tok, blood, and salt. Bloody broth sounds intimidating, but you can’t knock it til you try it!
Most people eat more than one bowl because they’re quite small, cheap, and very tasty! At some places, one serving is only 10-15 baht. Pick and choose to top it off with a combo of lime, chili flakes, vinegar, sugar, fish sauce, fried garlic, white pepper, or pork cracklins. Splendid!
10. Larb Gai (Spicy Thai Minced Chicken Salad)
One of our all-time favorites! Very common throughout Thailand and Laos as well. We alternate between eating pork and chicken larb. They’re both soo good! It has a lovely smoky flavor from toasted rice that has been pounded into a powder and added to the meat.
Lime juice, red and green onions, roasted red chilies, and some combination of basil, mint, or fresh cilantro are what really make this dish shine. Served with lettuce and cucumbers, it’s eaten with rice. Be sure to give this one a try during your visit!
11. Tom Yum Goong (Hot & Sour Prawn Soup)
Next up is the main signature soup that defines Thai flavor. Tom Yum is spicy, savory, sour, and highly addictive! It’s popular around the world, and for good reason. If you’re familiar with Thai food, you’ve probably had it before. But, if you’ve never tried it in the land of smiles we’d certainly recommend it.
It contains lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and galangal (the herbal base of tom yum flavor), fresh lime juice, shrimp stock, and fresh bird’s eye chilies. Add in those pretty pink prawns and you’ve got yourself heaven in a bowl!
12. Tom Kha Gai (Coconut Chicken Soup)
Tom Kha Gai is many things. Creamy, tangy, sour, sweet, comforting and super satisfying. Containing many of the same ingredients as Tom Yum, it’s a less spicy soup with tender chicken and mushrooms added.
The herby coconut broth is most excellent! It never disappoints. This bowl of goodness is perfect for when you’re feeling under the weather or you just want something to soothe your soul.
13. Pad See Ew (Stir-Fried Wide Noodle)
Our next one is a simple Chinese influenced wok fried noodle dish, usually made on the street, but easy to find at many restaurants. The main seasonings in it are oyster sauce and soy sauce.
Oddly entertaining to eat with chopsticks, the gooey wide noodles fill your mouth with warmth and a mix of sweet, salty, char-grilled flavor. The Chinese broccoli adds the perfect crunch. It’s a dish that’s as much about texture as it is about flavor. For an added zing add chili vinegar!
14. Sai Krok Isaan (Thai Fermented Sour Sausage)
Meat on a stick and Thailand go hand in hand. When you walk around Bangkok or if you ever visit the Isaan region, you’ll likely see people selling these amazing little pork balls on the street. They’re usually on a string or a stick. The pork is mixed with rice and then charcoal grilled to perfection.
It’s garlicky, salty, fatty, and slightly sour (from fermentation). It just explodes in your mouth and it’s everything you’d ever want in a sausage. Typically served with raw cabbage, chilies, and slices of ginger. They’re perfect for walking around and pair well with beer!
15. Khao Kha Moo (Braised Pork Leg With Rice)
Sweet slowly braised pork leg that is so incredibly tender it just dissolves in your mouth like butter. This dish a must when you’re in Thailand, especially if you like pork. Often cooked in a giant pot of steaming brown broth, it has cinnamon, Chinese five-spice, star anise, black peppercorns, garlic, coriander root, and chilies.
Various soy sauces and palm sugar are also included. Altogether it’s served on a bed of jasmine rice with pickled mustard greens, Chinese broccoli, a boiled egg, and braised pork skin (which tastes like pork candy). Sprinkle it with chili vinegar or top it off with fresh garlic cloves. Ohh my gooooodness! It’d make your grandma proud.
16. Khao Soi (Northern Thai Curry Noodles)
Quite possibly one of Thailand’s best if you love creamy coconut curries. This is a Burmese influenced curry soup-like noodle dish that’s very popular in the north. In case you’re not heading up to Chiang Mai, you can also find it in Bangkok.
Ingredients include egg noodles, chicken or beef, and coconut curry topped with tangled crunchy fried egg noodles, shallots, pickled greens, and roasted chili flakes. Spices like cardamom give it a very unique flavor, with turmeric producing its beautiful yellow color.
Alternating between slurping noodles with chopsticks, spoonfuls of hot curry, and bites of soft chicken. We love the entire experience!
17. Boo Neem Pad Pongari (Soft Shell Crab Yellow Curry)
This dish is unique in Thailand because it comes from dry curry powder and not curry paste like many other curries, nor does it contain coconut milk. Egg is added which gives it an added richness and a complimentary texture to the soft crunch of the crab.
We became aware of this dish through Mark Weins and migrationology.com where he gives sky-high praise for the version cooked at Soei restaurant. It’s incredible, perfectly salty, and a bit spicy. Treat yo’self!
18. Miang Kham (One Bite Wraps)
These little firecrackers are a combo of sweet, sour, salty, and spicy! A healthy snack that originated in Thai royal cuisine, it involves sprinkling a myriad of little treats inside of a fresh wild betel leaf, and then folding it up and eating it.
It’s like a choose your own adventure story for your mouth. Toasted peanuts, ginger, shallots, lime chunks, shredded dry coconut, dried shrimp, diced chilies, and a dollop of seasoned sugarcane syrup.
There is just nothing else like this anywhere! It results in the most distinctive, harmonious explosion of flavor and consistency. Often found in markets and sold as a pack. Keep an eye out or ask around!
19. Khai Jiaow (Thai-Style Omelette)
Great for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, Thai’s eat these omelets on top of fluffy rice at any time of day. You can easily find these on the street for 20-30 baht. The trick is that they add a splash of lime juice, fish sauce, and flour to the eggs prior to frying them.
Most importantly, the eggs cook in hot oil, so that they puff up and brown instantly, creating an omelet that is soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. We often order one as a side dish just because. Before trying this, you’d never know an omelet could taste this good!
20. Gaeng Keow Wan Gai (Thai Green Curry with Chicken)
If you haven’t already, you must try the beloved Thai green curry. Although the ingredients vary, it most commonly includes green curry paste, coconut milk, chicken, palm sugar, Thai eggplant, pea eggplant, kaffir lime leaves, sweet basil, and of course, bird’s eye chili peppers.
The final result is a full rich curry that is immensely pleasing! It’s commonly eaten with rice, but we favor it on top of khanom chin, thin rice noodles. We’re lucky enough to have a Thai friend in Bangkok that prepares this for us when we visit because she knows how much we adore it!
Additionally, if you enjoy this curry you should also look for Gaeng Panang (Panang Curry) or the often less spicy, potato-filled, Gaeng Massaman (Massaman Curry).
Delicious drinks to try:
Cha Yen – Thai milk tea
Manau Soda – Fresh lime juice soda
Cha Manau – Thai tea with lime
Cha Keow – Green milk tea
Nam Gek Huay – Chrysanthemum tea
Nam Kra Jeib – Roselle juice/Hibiscus tea
(Easily found at street stalls and food courts)
Useful Thai phrases:
Mae pet – Not very spicy
Mae sai prik – No chilies at all
Pet pet – Very spicy
Farang pet – Foreigner spicy
Wan nitnoy – A little sweet
Mae sai nam taan – No sugar
What are your favorite Thai foods? Have you been to BKK?