5 Must Try Thai Dishes

  • Posted onFebruary 11th, 2013

Five Thai dishes to die for.

thai_foodOK, no food is worth dying for, but if there was a dishes worthy of a life it would surely be of the Thai variety.

Food should be one of the highlights of any Thailand trip, whether you are here to relax, explore, adventure, or simply passing through on business. From the luxury rooftop restaurants of Sathorn, to the army of street hawkers along Sukhumvit Road, there’s no excuse not to try as many Thai dishes as humanly possible during your stay.

Thai food is simply a celebration of flavours, colours, and smells, built around surprisingly simple marriages of herbs, spices, meats and vegetables. However, while you may have to indulge in fine dining and taster menus to explore the best of cuisine in many countries around the world, the simple recipes and readily available ingredients mean you can taste authentic Thai dishes on any budget, and just about on every street corner in downtown Bangkok. In fact, while street food in many western countries, and even some Asian nations, can mean quick, cheap, and tasteless snacking, the cheap cost of Thai’s street food is not a reflection of the quality and taste. Thai’s are passionate about food and cooking and it is reflect in the way they prepare and serve even the simplest street snack.

You may well have tried some or all of these dishes, there are no secret selections here, these are simply my five favourite, and if you haven’t tried them all then you are really missing out on a treat.

Khao Niao Mamuang (Mango with Sticky Rice)

mango_stickyriceThey don’t call Bangkok the big Mango for nothing. While Thailand might not be world famous for its sweet dishes or desserts, the simplicity of fresh sliced mango served beside some sweet sticky rice, brought to life with a drizzle of creamy coconut milk, is one of my favourite desserts in the world. While few Thai main courses leave you hungry for more, many locals choose to eat this sweet dish as a meal in itself.

Pad Thai (Thai Noodles)

pad-thaiMost tourists will have tried Pad Thai before, it’s usually the first tick on the Thai bucket list. This quick and easy stir-fry dish is all about the collision of ingredients. Yummy rice noodles sizzle together with eggs, peppers, bean sprouts, chillies, tamarind juice, fish sauce, shrimps, chicken (or Tofu for the veg heads), and then crucially garnished with crushed peanuts and lime. Many restaurants stake a claim for having the best Pad Thai in Bangkok, but truth be told it’s very hard to find a bad one, and you can find this delicious dish on almost any street there is a beating pulse.

Kaeng Matsaman (Massaman Curry)

Massaman-curryThe most popular Thai curries tend to be the Red, Yellow and Green curries, but my personal favourite is the Massaman. With main ingredients including coconut milk, roasted nuts, potatoes, cinnamon, bay leaves, and chilli sauce, it has some likeness to the Indian Korma curry. Massaman curries tend to vary in spiciness, usually spiced to suit the patron. The waitress may well eye up a pale looking westerner and serve him a rather mild Massaman curry, while his Thai partner will receive a Massaman that really packs a punch! If you want to taste a traditional Massaman curry you should ask the waitress not to pull any punches, or at least say ‘hasip’ (which mean 50, and is a quaint way of saying medium), when asked how spicy you’d like it. Those who prefer a much milder experience should still go for this curry (request ‘mai phet’ which means not spicy), as the creamy richness is still extremely tasty minus the chilli.

Tom Yam Gung (Spicy and Sour Soup with Shrimp)

tomyumkungThe most famous of the Thai soups, this red hot dish is not for those who like to live on the mild side of life. Not only are several of the city’s restaurants named after this fiery dish, but it also has an award winning action movie carrying the same name. The soup is a herbal, spicy mix of fragrant, fresh lemon grass, galangal roots, tamarind paste, chilli peppers, chilli paste, fish sauce, lime, and so much more. Be brave, everyone should try this iconic dish at least once, and you may well find you really take to it.

Pad Gra Prao – Fried Sweet Basil

krapao_fried_riceGra prao, also known as holy basil, has long been used in traditional Thai medicine and can be found in many Thai dishes, but Pad Gra Prao is my own personal favourite. Another dish that is best served with a chilli kick, Pad Gra Prao is stir fried of basil and only a handful of other ingredients, including lots of chilli and a meat or seafood of choice (or with Tofu for veggies). The dish is then traditionally served on or by a bed of white rice topped with ‘Kai Dao’ (a fried egg), absolutely delicious.


  1. One of my all time favorites is Py Pad Phang Garee ( stir-fried crabs in curry sauce)

  2. J MOODY says:

    Looks and sounds delicious!

  3. Duke says:

    This page got me hungry and looking forward to going back to Thailand. I LOVE the Land of Smiles 🙂
    117 days til wheels up

  4. mihir says:

    I am planning to spend my vacation in thailand bangkok,i need full guidance about all thing in thailand from hotel,guide,girlfriend,food,etc.thank you.

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