Thai street food must be the best in the world. It’s very, very rare that I come across a dish that isn’t incredible, and I eat street food every day without fail whilst in Thailand.
Here are my personal top 5 Thai street eats in no particular order.
Pad Thai ผัดไท
Chicken ไก่ – Gai, Pork หมู – Moo or, more traditionally, Shrimp กุ้ง Gung
30 – 60b (Shrimp is generally slighty more expensive.)
I’m just going to get this out of the way right now. It may be cliché but it’s just so damn good…unless you don’t stray out of the confines of Khao San Road. The pad thai that they serve up there is ok at best and only after a few buckets, but as far as the Thai style pad thai dish goes, it’s terrible.
My absolute favourite place for this famous dish is the well known and much loved pad thai stall on Sukhumvit Soi 38. You’ll find the owner cooking over a flaming pan for hours on end, and it gets my vote as the best pad thai in Bangkok and maybe in Thailand. But be quick! So 38 night market will be closing its doors permanently in the near future to make way for new developments. You can get there by BTS, just head to Thong Lo and take exit 4 and it’s right there.
Khao Moo Daeng ข้าวหมูแดง
40 – 50b
Look out for the stall with the big pot of brown liquid. This tasty, almost sweet, rice dish is one of the rarely ordered dished for travellers, maybe because the stall is often fronted by hanging bits of pig to entice the locals.
Stick a bit of dark soy sauce and some chopped chilis to taste, as this is not a spicy dish at all, then get stuck in.
Side note: You can usually choose whether you want crispy pork or soft, fatty pork. It’s all about the crispy in my opinion.
Pad Kaprao ผัดกะเพรา
Chicken ไก่ – Gai or Pork หมู – Moo
Add a fried egg on top – Kai Dao ไข่ดาว
30 – 50b + 10b for the fried egg
Time to get spicy! This is one of my default dishes. If the menu is in English you might see that it’s called fried basil rice or holy basil rice as the word “kaprao” just means the herb holy basil. Mix in some minced meat of your choice (usually chicken or pork), some chilis, and stick a fried egg on top and you have one of the most popular and tasty dishes in Thailand. Do not leave without trying this dish.
Pork หมู – Moo or Chicken ไก่ – Gai
30 – 40b
Traditionally a breakfast meal that is served before 10am, but in Bangkok (and I’m sure many, many other places) you can get this porridge-like dish throughout the day and into the night as well.
My favourite jok shop is down on Phuttha Bucha just after Soi 44 in the Bang Mod area of Bangkok but I doubt that anyone is going to head down there just to get some breakfast. If you’re travelling then your best bet is the jok food stall at the end of Rambuttri Road (parallel to Khao San Road) next to the roundabout which is open until about 6am and makes a pretty damn good jok moo.
I recommend adding soy sauce, chilli sauce and dried chilis, mix it all up, try and repeat.
Som Tam ส้มตำ
Originally from Laos, Som Tam has become an extremely famous dish for Thailand, consistently making the list of the best dishes in the world. I wasn’t convinced at first as I like cooked, wet food but I tried it after about a year in Bangkok and it was incredible, gimme the spicy goodness.
I’m a huge fan of spicy food and this is super spicy. Thais generally have two+ chilis mixed in the tasty papaya punch giving it a burning kick, if you don’t look Thai then they’ll give you just one but if you really aren’t a spice lover then make sure you ask for just one or even go without.
Spicy เผ็ด – Pet
Not spicy ไม่เผ็ด – Mai Pet
You can also have a few different variations of this dish such as an all fruit version and a crab meat version, watch out though, they leave the shell in.
Here are a few tips for eating in Thailand.
If you want to be brave, just have a look around at other people’s food and point to what you like, then use the pet/mai pet spice levels that I mentioned above to have some control.
Water is fresh, free and safe to drink. Just grab one of the metal cups and dip it into the water bucket. Follow someone else’s lead if you’re unsure. The standard word for water is naam น้ำ and the word for drinking water or bottled water is naam pao น้ำเปล่า.
Rice – Khao ข้าว – This is the same khao as in Khao San Road for historical reasons.
Fried – Pad ผัด – As in Pad Thai or Pad Kaprao.
Ice – Nam Kaeng น้ำแข็ง – Literally: Hard water.
The Bill – Check bin เช็คบิล – I assume that this comes from the English “Check Bill”.
How much? – Tao lai – เท่าไหร่ – You should probably not ask this unless you want them to reply with the price in Thai.
I hope that you find this useful, let me know your favourites and, more importantly, where to find them! I’m always on the hunt for the best of the best in Bangkok.