Posted on Leave a comment

The 21 Best Thai Dishes to Try When Visiting Bangkok and Chiang Mai

best Thai dishes

The 21 Best Thai Dishes to Try When Visiting Bangkok and Chiang Mai

Essential Thai Foods You Have to Try at Least Once

Whether you like your food spicy or Thai spicy, there’s Thai dishes out there for everyone. Although Thai food is near synonymous with being extra spicy, it is also characterized by the giant sweet tooth of Thai culture. As often as I’ve heard someone ask for Thai spicy when ordering their favorite Thai dish (usually from a street food vendor), I’ve heard foreigners ask for regular sweet instead of Thai sweet just as much. It’s a country where asking for ‘no sugar’ often means ‘less sugar than how Thais like it’.

Top 9 Most Popular Thai Dishes

  • Khao Soi (Chiang Mai curry noodles)
  • Pad Thai (Thai stir-fried noodles)
  • Kaeng Massaman (Massaman Curry)
  • Tom Yum Goong (Hot and Sour Soup with Shrimp)
  • Som Tum (Spicy Green Papaya Salad)
  • Pad Kra Pao (Thai Basil Stir-Fry)
  • Khao Man Gai (Boiled chicken with rice)
  • Gaeng Keow Wan Gai (Thai Green Curry)
  • Pad Woon Sen (Stir-fried glass noodles)

khao soi gai (Northern Thai curry noodles with chicken)

Khao Soi (Chiang Mai curry noodles)

Khao Soi is a curry noodle soup from Northern Thailand, garnished with crispy fried noodles. It is most commonly served with chicken (khao soi gai) and comes with lime, chili paste, raw shallots and pickled cabbage on the side. Khao soi is a staple of Chiang Mai cuisine, while it can be difficult to find in Bangkok.

chicken pad thai

Pad Thai (Thai stir-fried noodles)

Pad Thai is by far the most famous Thai food globally, but it isn’t eaten by Thais as much as you’d think. Pad Thai consists of rice noodles, peanuts, scrambled egg, bean sprouts and a choice of chicken, beef or tofu. It is made by sauteing all the ingredients in a wok and then tossed in the signature tangy salty pad thai sauce.

Thai massaman curry

Kaeng Massaman (Massaman Curry)

Massaman curry is an Indian-fusion dish that stands out from other Thai curries. Originally brought to the region by Muslim traders, it makes use of both Indian (cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaves, potato) and Thai ingredients (chili peppers, coriander, lemongrass, shrimp paste, garlic). Although its exact origins are debated among food historians, it is widely accepted that massaman curry has Indian and Malay influences.

📷 Photo Credit: Camile Thai Facebook

tom yum goong soup

Tom Yum Goong (Hot and Sour Soup with Shrimp)

Tom yum, or tom yam, is a Thai-Chinese hot and sour soup typically served with shrimp. Tom yum is a simple light soup made with fresh lemongrass, galangal, chilies, kaffir lime leaves, fish sauce and a splash of fresh lime juice at the end.

Like many other Thai dishes, it’s tough to replicate the authentic taste of Tom Yum made in the motherland. You will likely have trouble finding galangal (Thai ginger) outside of Asia. Although not mandatory for a good tom yum, galangal is an herb used to neutralize the strong fishy aroma. Try your local Asian supermarket and cross your fingers!

📷 Photo Credit: Temple of Thai

Thai papaya salad

Som Tum (Spicy Green Papaya Salad)

Originating from Laos as ‘tam som’ or ‘tam maak hoong’, som tum is a unique salad that is popular throughout Southeast Asia. The most popular version of som tum served in Thailand is served with dried shrimp and peanuts, often eaten with sticky rice and other Northeastern Thai dishes. Sometimes the dried shrimp is substituted with salted crab (som tum pbooh).

📷 Photo Credit: Brian Bone

pad kra pao (basil chicken with rice)

Pad Kra Pao (Holy Basil Stir-Fry)

Pad kra pao is the closest cultural equivalent to a sandwich in Thai cuisine. This rustic, spicy stir-fry features the incredible aroma of holy basil, served with rice and topped with a fried egg. It’s a quick and easy meal found in almost any street-side restaurant, street food vendor or food court. The slightly runny fried egg brings a creaminess when prepared Thai style: fried in plenty of oil so that the egg whites have bubbly brown edges.

khao man gai (Thai style Hainanese boiled chicken)

Khao Man Gai (Boiled chicken with rice)

Khao man gai is the Thai version of Hainanese chicken rice; it is one of the simplest meals and a testament to a chef’s prowess. Simplicity in cooking is tough to achieve while satisfying the taste buds of many. The dish is served as a chicken rice soup, often with spicy, congealed chicken blood as an optional side.

In Bangkok, you’ll find chicken rice carts or Khao man gai specialty restaurants without even trying. The best place in Thailand for this dish is เม้งโภชนา (เล็ก) เจริญกรุง 59 in Bangkok, located at Charoenkrung Soi 59. This place is locally famous among Thais and expats as a hotspot for the only place to eat khao man gai. I was lucky enough to live across the street for a number of years, filling my cravings on a whim any day of the week.

📷 Photo Credit: Atsushi Hariu

Thai green curry

Gaeng Keow Wan Gai (Thai Green Curry)

The secret of Thai green curry paste is that it’s fried in coconut cream at the start of preparation. The coconut cream absorbs the paste without any need for oil in the pan. Coconut cream is the more traditional way to make a Thai green curry, but this is often substituted with coconut milk for a less thick curry experience.

Many will claim that store-bought curry pastes do the trick just fine, but the authentic Thai flavour lies in the mortar and pestle.

📷 Photo Credit: Nicha The Wanderer ณิชาพาตะลอน

Thai glass noodles

Pad Woon Sen (Stir-fried glass noodles)

Pad woon sen is a classic Thai dish almost as popular as pad thai itself! Glass noodles are stir-fried with crunchy vegetables (usually carrots and shredded cabbage), grilled chicken, tomatoes, onions and garlic. The silky smooth glass noodles (also known as bean thread noodles or cellophane noodles) are often mistaken for rice vermicelli when uncooked. The main difference between these types of noodles is that once cooked, glass noodles are translucent and rice vermicelli has a white, opaque appearance.

📷 Photo Credit: Street Food Hunters

Thai Curries

Every great curry begins making an excellent curry paste by hand with a mortar and pestle. Although some will swear by the convenience of food processors for making curries, this is considered taboo in the Thai culinary world. More accurately, it can be outright offensive since it’s rare you’d find a food processor in a Thai kitchen to begin with.

As urbanization of Thailand spreads, many traditions of authentic Thai cuisine have been lost culturally. You’ll find processed sugar instead of cane sugar in almost every Thai household but in more recent years, there is also a growing trend in using store-bought curry pastes. While we normally wouldn’t recommend store-bought over homemade, these pastes are made fresh daily and are well worth the money if you don’t have enough time to cook.

Suggested Reading: How to Make Traditional Thai Curry Pastes 

Types of Thai Curry Dishes

  • Massaman Curry
  • Khao Soi (Chiang Mai Noodles)
  • Green Curry
  • Red Curry
  • Penang Curry
  • Yellow Curry
  • Northern Thai Burmese Pork Curry

Thai red curry

Kaeng Phet (Thai Red Curry)

Thai red curry is a popular Thai dish made from cooking red curry paste in coconut milk and adding your protein of choice (chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, tofu). The redness in kaeng phet comes from the copious amounts of dried red chilies used in the curry paste.

panang curry with spare ribs

Phanaeng (Thai Panang Curry)

Phanaeng (also spelled phanang or panang) is another type of Thai red curry dating back to 1890, featuring a salty, sweet taste and a zesty hint of kaffir lime. Most commonly served with pork, phanaeng is a creamy curry made with no liquid ingredients other than coconut milk.

📷 Photo Credit: The Local by Oam Thong Thai Cuisine

Thai yellow curry

Kaeng Kari (Thai Yellow Curry)

Don’t mistake kaeng kari for kaeng luaeng: While kaeng luaeng directly translates to “yellow curry”, kaeng kari (curry soup) is the famous dish you’re looking for!

With origins in India, Thai yellow curry is a fusion dish incorporating Indian ingredients with Thai spices. It has a powerful, vibrant taste, accompanied by carrots and potatoes to fill you up. You can commonly find yellow curry served on street-side restaurants so find a plastic stool and get ready to fill your belly.

📷 Photo Credit: Kyle Weng

kaeng hunglay (Northern Thai Burmese curry)

Kaeng Hunglay (Northern Thai Burmese Pork Curry)

Kaeng hunglay is a curried-stew from Northern Thailand with Burmese roots, typically made from pork belly or other fatty pork. Its defining trait is the use of Garam Masala, a blend of spices found in Burmese and Indian cuisine. If you’re a fan of Indian food, you’ll love this curry. It has all the rich and hearty traits of a great stew, while showcasing the sweet and sour tastes of traditional Thai cooking.

📷 Photo Credit: Thai Cookbook TV

Thai Desserts

No one ever complained about an abundance of fresh fruit! But I’ve heard plenty of complaints about Thai desserts being too sweet. Too sugary, to be exact!

best Thai desserts
📷 Photo Credit: Thai Dessert By เจ้แดงขนมไทย

How to Say “No Sugar” or “Not Sweet” in Thai

If you’re like me (a foreigner), you’ll want to tell your server mai waan, which directly translates to “not sweet”. It’s a good catch-all for ordering coffee, tea or dessert to make sure you aren’t overwhelmed by sweetness. However, some Thais will interpret mai waan as meaning “little sugar”, rather than “no sugar”. In this case, the magic phrase is mai waan loei, or “no sugar at all”.

Top 6 Most Popular Thai Desserts

  • Khao Niao Mamuang (Mango Sticky Rice)
  • Khao Niao Toorien (Durian Sticky Rice)
  • Itim Kati (Coconut Ice Cream)
  • Khanom Buang (Thai crispy pancakes)
  • Mamuang Nam Pla Wan (Green mango with sweet chili spices)
  • Khanom Ba Bin (Grilled coconut cakes)
mango sticky rice

Khao Niao Mamuang (Mango Sticky Rice)

The classic Thai dessert. You’ll find it in every nook and cranny as street food but also at Thai restaurants around the world. It’s a simple treat that is globally celebrated made from just 3 key components: ripe mangoes, high quality coconut milk and Thai sweet rice. Thai sweet rice is sometimes just called sticky rice or glutinous rice, found in most Asian food stores. Sticky rice is always made in a pot on the stove, rather than a rice cooker. The secret to a good Thai sticky rice is bringing it to a gentle boil in coconut water, coconut milk, salt and brown sugar.

fresh durian

Khao Niao Toorien (Durian Sticky Rice)

Khao niao toorien is a variation on the traditional mango sticky rice, substituting mango for fresh durian. Durian, dubbed the “king of fruits”, is famous for its pungent smell. The aroma of durian is so strong that the fruit is actually banned from most forms of public transportation. When someone cracks open a durian, you’ll know from a block away (literally).

Thai coconut ice cream

Itim Kati (Coconut Ice Cream)

You haven’t eaten in Thailand if you haven’t capped off a nice meal with coconut ice cream!

It’s a simple non-dairy ice cream made almost entirely from fresh coconut! Authentic Thai coconut ice cream uses the water from the coconut, organic coconut sugar instead of regular sugar and just a little bit of salt. Be on the lookout for regional variations – it isn’t uncommon to find coconut ice cream topped with fresh mango chunks and chopped peanuts.

📷 Photo Credit: You Know You’ve Lived In Thailand when…..

crispy Thai pancakes

Khanom Buang (Thai crispy pancakes)

Khanon buang is a traditional Thai dessert passed down generation to generation. Dating back roughly 600 years ago, the Thai crispy pancake is a street food that requires precise preparation. It consists of a thin, crispy crepe made from rice flour and is topped with candied duck egg yolk.

📷 Photo Credit: Trương Thị Nhớ

green mango with chilies dip

Mamuang Nam Pla Waan (Green mango with sweet chili spices)

Nam pla waan is a Thai fruit dip that turns any sour fruit into an exciting opportunity to drench them in sweet, salty fish sauce. Is fish sauce and fruit a combination I ever expected to recommend? Absolutely not. But it tastes amazing and after a first taste, you’ll drop your suspicions quickly! The sauce is made with palm sugar, fish sauce, shrimp paste, Thai chilies and shallots. The dip is most commonly served with green mango, but underripe pineapple and green apple will make their way to your plate sometimes too.

📷 Photo Credit: We ❤ Non Veg Recipes Facebook Group

grilled coconut cakes

Khanom Ba Bin (Grilled coconut cakes)

Thai coconut pancakes are a staple street food, cooked on a hot griddle. Khanon ba bin is a gluten free dessert that is found almost everywhere in Thailand.

📷 Photo Credit: dmAsia

Coffee from Thailand

Thai café culture has grown rapidly in the past decade. The heat of coffee in Thailand is Chiang Mai, home to internationally acclaimed baristas that have won global competitions. Although Chiang Mai is known as the capital of coffee in Thailand, Bangkok is no slouch either. With a seemingly endless amount of new coffee shops popping up in Bangkok and their widespread availability through GrabFood and FoodPanda, Bangkok is in an exciting era that should be appreciated in full. Although Thai coffee doesn’t pack the same punch as Vietnamese coffee, it makes up for it with rich flavour.

Ristr8o in Chiang Mai is possibly the most internationally famous of all Thai cafés, known around the world as being home of the World Champion Latte. That said, it’s not my favourite – that title belongs to Roastniyom, which is a more locally famous attraction. Whenever I visit Chiang Mai, I take a cab straight from the airport to Roastniyom for their cold brew and croissants!

coffee in Thailand
📷 Photo Credit: Fuel Coffee Bar

6 Best Cafés in Bangkok

Adopo Cafe in Yan Nawa, Bangkok

6 Best Cafés in Chiang Mai

  • Roastniyom Coffee
  • Ristr8o Lab
  • Graph Coffee
  • Taste Café
  • Akha Ama La Fattoria
  • Yesterday Café
best cafe in Chiang Mai
📷 Photo Credit: Chukiat Vasaruchapong
Posted on Leave a comment

The Best Restaurants in Bangkok with Delivery During Quarantine

restaurants in Bangkok with delivery

The Top 9 Restaurants in Bangkok with Delivery

Don’t let the quarantine stop you from eating from the best restaurants in Bangkok!

Although the coronavirus outbreak has slowed Bangkok (and the rest of the world!) to a standstill, that doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice everything we love. In this article, we’ll be covering 10 incredible restaurants in Bangkok with delivery to your front door during the quarantine period. You can order some amazing grub and enjoy the best cooking that Bangkok has to offer from the comfort and safety of your own home (or hotel).

There are a number of food delivery services available in Bangkok (and the rest of Thailand), so be sure to check if delivery to your area of the city is available. For example, I had to struggle without being able to order from Fatty’s for a long time, but now they’re available in the Sathorn area! Hopefully you can satisfy your cravings! If all else fails, try contacting their Facebook Pages or just give them a call. People are quite accommodating during this time of crisis!

Food Delivery Apps in Thailand You Should Download

While there are a handful of smaller food delivery apps available in Thailand, these are the main ones that you’ll end up using. Some of the restaurants in this blog have only recently introduced delivery options (because of quarantine), so to our knowledge, they’re only available on the staple food delivery apps. Each are available on both iPhone and Android, but FoodPanda also allows you to order food directly off their website as well.

If you have Grab (the ride sharing app) or LINE (the instant messenger) already installed, there’s no need to download anything. Food delivery is built right in!

With that out of the way, let’s hop right into the top restaurants in Bangkok with delivery during Thailand’s state of emergency. Don’t bother ordering from McDonald’s or Pizza Hut while you’re cooped up at home. Let’s support local businesses and get through this together!

Fatty’s Bar & Diner

We are unapologetically biased in pushing Fatty’s to the top of the list. Fatty’s is a Midwest-style pub with some of the most tasty, greasy food in Bangkok. To put it simply: their cheese is to die for! Mozzarella sticks, deep-fried cheese curds – even proper Canadian poutine is on the menu!

But what makes Fatty’s hit home runs during quarantine is their beer delivery. Imports and local beer are all available for delivery, and at a 15% discount. Keep in mind that if you want to order beer, it can only be done over the phone. Give them a call and they’ll sort you out.

Click here for a list of Fatty’s beer selection and delivery prices.

Daniel Thaiger

Legendary, award-winning burgers. The secret ingredient is the Thaiger sauce…and the high quality beef. And the…well, to put a long story short: these are gourmet burgers that you can get delivered to your self-isolated chambers. Daniel Thaiger keeps it simple by perfecting how much flavor you can achieve with basic ingredients and some TLC. It started as a food truck but has become so much more.

Gallery Pizza

Any 2 pizzas for 499 baht! That’s not a new promotion or anything, that’s kind of what Gallery Pizza is known for. These aren’t personal pan-sized pizzas like you may find on the oddball pizza joint on GrabFood. These aren’t limited to basic toppings. You get full access to Gallery’s pizza menu for this deal that I order more often than I’d like to admit. My favorite is the white garlic chicken and the newest addition to the menu: the PBR. It’s got a nice balsamic glaze that hasn’t been topped at any other pizza joint in Bangkok.

I’ve never actually ordered from Gallery on any food delivery apps, just over the phone and even more conveniently: via their Facebook Page. Seriously, it’s awesome. Shoot them a message with your address, phone number and your order. Then it’s time to play the waiting game. Simple.

Gallery also has beer and wine on the menu and Vanilla Coke for those with a sweet tooth out there too. I’m not a big wine drinker so I won’t pretend to know if their selection is good but I do tend to add a couple Asahi beers to my order for safe measure. Check out their menu and judge for yourself.

Pala Pizza Romana

Is that name Italian enough for you? I’d hope so, seeing as how I can’t help but read it with a thick accent in my head every time I see it.

Some people swear by Pala as the best pizza in Bangkok and frankly, it would be hard to make an argument against that. At the end of the day, it comes down to personal preference really. Pala’s got super nice dough, with a pinch of salt and a stretchy base. If you have the pleasure of dining in after the quarantine is over, you’ll see that it’s truly a work of art.

Charoensuk Beef Noodle

In a city known for its street food and a countless number of noodle shops, Charoensuk Beef Noodle stands out as a culinary marvel of Bangkok. Just how good can a simple bowl of beef noodles get? Well, Charoensuk has been in business for over 70 years now, so make an order and let your taste buds do the talking.

Tacos & Salsa Mexican Bar and Restaurant

What would a comfort food cheat sheet be without some Mexican food? Sure, Taco Bell is nice when you want that American-style grease but nothing beats the real deal. Tacos & Salsa has been a personal favorite of ours for years and it’s often the place the Bodega crew gathers when no one can make up their mind on where to eat. That problem may have been daunting, but now that we’re stuck at home it doesn’t seem so bad. 

If you live close enough to Tacos & Salsa, they’ll offer free delivery. Your best bet is to message them on Facebook or give them a call to find out. You won’t get that deal on any food delivery app.

Click here to check out Tacos & Salsa’s delivery menu.

Vegan Restaurants in Bangkok with Delivery

Vegans in Bangkok aren’t out of luck but I wish I had more information to share with you about these restaurants. These recommendations come from active members of the Bangkok Informed Facebook Group, so I trust their judgement but can’t personally endorse them. If you can speak to the quality of these restaurants, let us know in the comments!

Food Delivery in Bangkok: What did we miss?

Did we miss some of your favorites? There’s bound to be plenty of restaurants offering quarantine discounts and deals. We’d love to hear from fellow Bangkok expats and expand this list as we discover new delivery options.

Please email me if you want your restaurant featured or if you had insight on a deal we need to share: chris@bodegahostelgroup.com.


This blog was originally published March 29, 2020 on BodegaHostels.com.