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18 best Thai local foods you must try - recommended by locals

Roverista

Nov 15, 2021 · 9 mins read

Thai food is one of the most popular food in the world. Most people love Thai cuisine because it is flavourful and spicy; sweet, sour, salty, spicy, and umami all in one dish. When you come to Thailand, especially in Bangkok, you will see plenty of restaurants in every corner of the city. It is so convenient to find something to eat. You might get confused with various food around Thailand and which one you should try first, so we select the 18 best Thai food that even locals love. Here is our list.

18 best Thai local foods you must try

  1. Tom Yum Goong
  2. Gang Keaw Wan
  3. Panang Kai
  4. Massaman
  5. Fried Curry Crab
  6. Jim Jum
  7. Roast Duck Rice
  8. Thai Grilled Pork Neck
  9. Red pork or Crisp Pork Rice
  10. Moo Namtok
  11. Pad Kra Pao
  12. Yum Pla Dook Fu
  13. Padthai
  14. Somtum
  15. Khao Soi
  16. Mango Sicky rice
  17. Grilled River Prawn
  18. Crab Omelette

1. Tom Yum Goong

Shimp tom yum soup , Thai food @ Oran Tantapakul | Adobe Stock

"Tom Yum Goong" or spicy shrimp soup is one of the most famous dishes of Thailand. This spicy dish is full of flavour, both spiciness and sourness, which will help warm the body. There are 2 types of tom yum soup: clear and thick soup. The thick soup will be more creamy, while the clear one offers you more freshness. It can contain meat or seafood, which are fully cooked in the broth before being served.

2. Gang Keaw Wan

Green Chicken Curry,Thai cuisine @ Chaded

Gang keaw wan or Thai Green curry is also one of the most popular Thai curries around the world. It is possible to use any form of meat in this dish, such as pork, chicken or beef. Typically, Thai people serve the green curry with white rice, but you might be able to see it filled with rice noodles in some parts of Thailand. Almost every Thai restaurant would have this menu. You can eat green curry with rice and omelette, they also go along really well.

3. Panang Kai

Thai curry red soup,Thailand tradition red curry with beef,pork or chicken menu in thai name is panaeng.Curry menu with coconut milk.Panaeng Curry on Wooden table @ MemoryMan | Adobe Stock

Panang kai is a Thai-style chicken coconut curry dish that many people make as their favourite dish. It is also an authentic Thai food with coconut milk as an ingredient, and you can taste rich, creamy, and spicy from this dish. You can see panang kai in every curry and rice shop. Some shops might make the dish with beef and pork instead of chicken. If you notice the Panang Nue or beef coconut curry on the menu, we recommend you to try it. Panang nue is quite hard to find, but it is also is a delicious dish. 

4. Massaman

Thai curry red soup,Thailand tradition red curry with beef,pork or chicken menu in thai name is panaeng.Curry menu with coconut milk.Panaeng Curry on Wooden table @ MemoryMan | Adobe Stock

Massaman curry is originally from India. It has been in the Thai House for more than 230 years. The original recipe was made with beef, but you can see any kind of meat in massaman curry nowadays. It is a spicy, fragrant, sweet, delicious and mellow dish, made from key ingredients like curry paste, followed by potatoes or sweet potatoes, onions, roasted peanuts, cardamom. Thai people usually eat massaman with rice, but you can also mix it with Noodles, spaghetti, bread, naan, or roti.

5. Fried Curry Crab

Crab meat curry @ vichie81 | Adobe Stock

Fried Curry Crab with curry powder is another famous seafood dish. It is accepted by foodies Because it is full of aromatic spices, mellow taste and fresh sweet crab. This dish is a mixture of curry powder, fresh milk, chilli oil, chicken eggs and some seasoning. While the vegetables that are added include onions, celery, spring onions, and capsicum to add beauty to the dish. The dish was initially invented by Somboon Seafood restaurant, but you can also find it in another Chinese restaurant in Thailand.

6. Jim Jum

Jimjum @ Takahiro Yamagiwa | flickr.com

It is known as "Jim Jum" or "Moo Jum". All Isaan food lovers will be amazed. It is a hotpot in Issan style with the full aroma of the herbal broth. You will have various meat, such as chicken, pork, meat and seafood together with multiple dipping sauces when you order Jim Jum. At Issan restaurant, you can also have other Isan side dishes such as Somtum, Laab, Nam Tok, and Spicy Soup, along with Jim Jum. It is the perfect way to celebrate something with your friends.

7. Roast Duck Rice

Thai roast duck @ Chirag Gupta | flickr.com

AKA by local as "Khao Na Bet" is a typical Thai dish that usually can be found and sold on the street. The plate is served with roasted duck with rice together with sweet-sour broth on top. The main ingredient of this dish is simple, just duck and rice with some sauce and seasoning, but the way restaurants roast their duck is unique. It requires some technique and skill to make a delicious roast duck.

8. Thai Grilled Pork Neck

Moo Yang Grilled Pork Neck @ Alpha | flickr.com

Thai grilled pork neck (kor moo yang) is one of Thailand's most famous street foods. The dish originated from the northeast region in Thailand (Isan); however, it can be found throughout the country due to its popularity. As simple as its dish name but not on its taste, it is one of the most flavorful, juicy dishes eaten with sticky rice that will give you a perfect balance of flavour and texture.

9. Red pork or Crisp Pork Rice

Barbecued red pork and crispy pork in sauce with rice or thai name Kao Moo Dang. Street food menu in Thailand @ Katsukakun | Adobe Stock

Red pork rice is a one-dish meal that is easy to eat. There are various ingredients in one dish, such as red pork, crispy pork, Chinese sausage, boiled egg, topped with water, crisp cucumber slices, spicy spring onions to reduce its greasy. The particular secret of this dish is the sticky sauce on top, which will determine how good the food is. Red pork rice is another popular dish by locals in Thailand and can be found on almost every corner of the street.

10. Moo Namtok

Grilled pork salad @ Kat n Kim | flickr.com

"Moo Namtok" is an original dish from Isaan that mix grilled marinated pork with some spice. It has a spicy flavour with Thai seasonings, such as cayenne pepper and lime, and also gets the aroma from roasted rice. Like the typical Issan dish, Moo Nam Tok is usually eaten with sticky rice and Issan dishes such as Somtum and Larb.

11. Pad Kra Pao

Thai food style, Rice topped with stir fried minced pork with holy basil leaves in black plate in restaurant, This food is most popular Thai food (Pad kra pao), on dark background @ abinkung | Adobe Stock

Pad kra pao or Stir-fried meat and Basil dish are some of the most common food in Thailand. When they get no idea what to eat for lunch, they will go for a pad kra pao. It is a dependable menu that every restaurant would make delicious. This go-to Thai dish is also famous for a traveller who wants a local taste with a bit of spicy. Pad kra pao is always served with a fried egg. If there is no fried egg on your dish, try to order it to your pad kra pao, it is a perfect combination.   

12. Yum Pla Dook Fu

Yam pla dook fu @ RTSCA | flickr.com

Yum pla dook fu or Crispy Catfish Green Mango Salad is a common dish you can see in Thai restaurant. This dish use fried mashed grilled catfish  mix with fish sauce, cashew nut, green mango, shallot, lime, chilli and other. It is usually served as an appetizer but you can also have it with white rice as a main dish. The Crispy Catfish is so light and crispy, unlike the other fried fish dishes you could see in Thailand.

13. Padthai

Pad thai is a traditional Thai dish made of stir-fried rice noodles. It is one of the most famous dishes known to foreigners. It usually consists of rice noodles stir-fried in fish sauce, tamarind juice, soy sauce or oyster sauce with eggs, tofu, pork or shrimp. You can try the popular Pad thai restaurant in Bangkok like Thipsamai, or you can just try it at any local food stall to get the authentic taste of pad Thai.

14. Somtum

Traditional Thai food papaya salad prepared with fine slices of papaya, tomatoes, green beans and peanuts. @ ilolab | Adobe Stock

Somtum or papaya salad is a popular Issan dish in Thailand. The salad is made with green papaya, tomatoes, long beans, dried shrimp, lime juice, sugar, and fish sauce top with roasted peanuts. It is also called "som tam" in Thailand. In the Issan region, "som" refers to Sour, while "tam" refers to pound. The ingredients are tossed together with spicy lime dressing to make the dish sour and sweet. This dish is usually eaten with sticky rice, which helps to cool the spiciness of this dish. You don't have to go to the Issan region to try som tum, there are tons of Issan restaurants in Bangkok, and that is a great way to go.

15. Khao Soi

Khao soy thailand @ antoine | Adobe Stock

"Khao Soi" is a northern dish that consists of noodles in curry sauce. It is believed to be a food culture influenced by the trading of Chinese merchants in the mid-19th century. At that time, Khao Soi did not look the same as today Khao Soi. It has been developed to fit the Thai tongue by adjusting the recipe to add coconut milk and sprinkle onions and cilantro. You can find Khao Soi easily in the North of Thailand, especially in Chiangmai. You will find a variety of street food stalls offering this dish.

16. Mango Sicky rice

Mango with sticky rice @ piyagoon | Adobe Stock

Thai mango sticky rice is a traditional Thai dessert. It is one of Thailand's signature dishes. It is simply sticky rice and sweet mango with coconut milk on top, but it tastes delicious. You can find it easily at every Thai restaurant, or sometimes you will find it on the street. Some restaurants put some "fried salty mung beans" to add a crunchy texture to the mango sticky rice, making it tasty.

17. Grilled River Prawn

Grilled prawns,Grilled fresh big shrimp with spicy sauce (Thai Food) @ sahachat | Adobe Stock

Thai river prawns are traditionally cut lengthwise and grilled over coals, then served with white rice. The highlight of this dish is the yellow, creamy prawn oil at the top of the grilled prawn. The texture of both prawn meat and prawn oil will melt in your mouth. Don’t worry about feeling greasy when eating lots of prawns; it is usually served with Thai spicy seafood sauce, which will enhance the taste even better!

18. Crab Omelette

Bangkok street food - Jay Fai @ Streets of Food | flickr.com

Thai Crab Omelette is one of the most famous street foods in Thailand. It is typically just an ordinary street dish, but Jay Fai made it a Michelin star menu, and now everyone is craving to try it. Jay Fai's crab omelette is an ordinary omelette with a whole load of crab cooked perfectly, so its colour turns to gold. The texture of both the omelette and the crab is mixed up well together, and the perfect way to finish it is to dip it into chilli sauce.


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