Intermission as a part-time food blogger. Enjoy! Or get your food delivery app ready.
Taste of Thailand
Southeast Asia is known for its diverse and rich cuisine –Singapore’s hawker fare, the Indonesian Nasi Goreng, Vietnam’s Pho, Manila’s unbeatable Sinigang plus Sinangag combo (I claim supremacy over the adobo). But Thailand remains pretty up there in my personal ranking of gustatory delights.
I’ve been to Bangkok several times and I’ve always loved the food. This post feels a little overdue.
Read here: #LostInThailand2016 and Ten Things I Loved in Bangkok #EAMSC2019
***My actual travel blog for our 2023 summer vacation to Thailand and Cambodia will materialize someday.
******To be clear, the next ratings pertain to the dish themselves, not any particular incarnation in that restaurant or the other.
#1: Pad Thai (Stir-fried Noodles)
This staple Thai dish features flat dried rice noodles stir-fried with egg, tofu, peanuts, bean sprouts and your choice of protein –shrimp, chicken, and sometimes pork. As a ubiquitous dish, it’s presentation ranges from THB50 in street food stalls to THB200 in fancier restaurants.
Great value for money, and it comes as off as a pretty balanced meal
Try it: Bubble in the Forest Cafe, and possibly every Thai-themed restaurant
#2: Mango Sticky Rice
With sweet glutinous rice and sweet-sour fresh mango slices, Mango Sticky Rice is a must-try dish. Like Pad Thai, this coconut milk-infused snack –or dessert, or light meal– can be found nearly anywhere and everywhere in Bangkok.
Tastes great, with an interesting texture, but too sweet for an everyday snack.
Try it: SOOKSIAM by Icon Siam, and maybe every other street in Bangkok
#3: Gaeng Keow Wan Gai (Thai Green Chicken Curry)
I’ve never been a big fan of curry, so trying this dish was an unexpected pleasure. In fact, this mild and herby coconut milk-based curry with green pepper and sweet notes became my unexpected favorite during our Thailand summer trip.
Hearty, only mildly spicy, with some sweetness thrown in –this rich and filling curry takes my podium for new favorite dish.
Try it: Baan ThaTien Cafe, a cozy little cafe that’s just a short walk from Wat Pho
#4: Tom Yum Rice
Transforming the hot and sour soup into a rice dish is a smart move for tourist-friendly restaurants. If Tom Yum Goong (the soup) is too spicy for you, the fried rice version offers a tamer but still complex offering of lemongrass, shrimp, galangal, and kaffir lime.
Filling, with an interesting taste fit for mild spice enthusiasts.
Try it: Let’s Say Cafe, and in the other places I tried it (I can’t remember where else exactly though)
#5: Som Tam (Thai Green Papaya Salad)
It’s spicy, it’s papaya, it’s… a salad? A combination of crunchy unripe papaya, red chili peppers, fish sauce, and palm sugar, this flavorful dish pairs well with pretty much any dish.
Each bite is interesting. But it lands on the too-spicy side of the fence for me, so one bite is more than enough.
Try it: Mixt Chatuchak, and also probably any Thai restaurant
#6: Pad Kra Pao (Thai Basil Stir-Fry)
This simple dish combines ground meat (chicken or pork), holy basil and rice, sometimes with a side of egg. That’s it.
Unexciting, but its simplicity is probably key to its status as a classic dish in the country.
Try it: Tik Cafe in Chatuchak Weekend Market (their croissants and pad thai and drinks are better!)
#7: Khao Pad (Fried Rice)
Khao Pad is Thailand’s take on the pervasive asian dish. Typically made with Jasmine rice, fish sauce (not soy sauce!), sugar, pepper, and choice of meat, it’s a reliable and surprisingly light meal good for any time of day. It’s another dish that can be found on the streets, in 7-Eleven, and in finer dining.
I prefer my fried rice to be a little heavier and richer (aka saltier), but this was a refreshing take on one of my favorite meals of all time. I can never say no.
Try it: 7-Eleven Thailand –It doesn’t hurt that my man Jackson Wang endorses the franchise
#8 and 9: Khao Man Gai (Chicken Rice) and Khao Soi (Northern Thai Yellow Curry Noodle Soup with Chicken Leg)
Khao Man Gai a doppelganger of the more famous Hainanese chicken rice, a light dish with boiled chicken on top of rice cooked in broth. As a big fan of Hainanese chicken rice (I can seriously eat three cups of rice in a single sitting), this was a no-brainer.
Khao Soi, on the other hand, is another coconut curry noodle soup that has a thicker, richer broth and noodles. It’s only slightly spicy.
I love it when the chicken meat falls off the bone. Delicious.
Rating: ★★★☆☆ for both
They’re good to fill the stomach, but neither are they unique or outstanding for me. These are reliable meals you’ll keep coming back to for comfort.
Try it: Go-Ang Pratunam Chicken Rice and Ong Tong Khao Soi
#10: Mala Moo Ping (Grilled Marinated Pork Skewers)
Rounding out this list is a Thai take on another Southeast Asian favorite: skewers. Easy to eat, goes well with rice, and almost universally delicious, Mala Moo Ping is sweet, savory, and somehow involves coconut milk in the cooking.
Grilled pork skewers are unlikely to ever disappoint, but they’re also unlikely to ever wow either. Or maybe I just haven’t found the right place.
Try it: Jim’s Terrace (really we went for the ambiance)
Bonus Round: Dessert
No meal is complete without a little sweetness. Or some pistachios. I could never get enough pistachios.
Until next time! ❤️