10 Most Popular Traditional Thai Food You Must Try

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What’s Special About Thai Food

Thailand’s cuisine is known across the globe for its amazing flavors, not without reason as it has a rich Thai food culture. Don’t miss out on the experience of these foods while our list of their most traditional dishes. We will be telling you what kind of thai food you should eat, all you have to do is find to where to eat in Thailand.

Pad Thai

Phad Thai Food with lemon and spring onion

Of the national dishes in the country, Pad Thai is a dish loved in Thailand. Most often, it is the choice of tourists who are beginning their culinary journey in Thailand. Fried noodles make up this delicacy, which may be prepared with a choice of succulent shrimp or tender chicken. However, the vegetarian version is also well-liked. Almost on every street where street food is served, you can easily find Pad Thai, making it a less costly and mouth-watering meal option for anyone looking to satisfy their hunger pangs.

Tom Kha Gai

tom kha gai thai food

Tom kha gai is somewhat akin to tom yum and gives those who have a relatively low tolerance for spice the opportunity to enjoy the wonderful Thai flavors. Not only is it mild in spice, but Tom kha gai also stands out due to the strong taste of coconut milk, which contributes a lot of creaminess and sweetness to the soup. Being part of a nation whose cooking is entirely based on rice and other food grains, vegetarian alternatives are simple modifications where some of these ingredients can be replaced with plant products.

Som Tam

Som Tum food shrimp

Som tam is a dish from the Isaan region of Northeastern Thailand and is known as one of the most favored dishes in Thai cuisine. Som tam is prepared in many forms, but the traditional som tam is made of shredded green papaya, tomatoes, carrots, peanuts, dried shrimp, runner beans, palm sugar, tamarind pulp, fish sauce, lime juice along with some garlic and lots of chilies. Once mixed using a mortar and pestle, this dish turns into a sensational feast because of its intensified flavors.

Green Curry

Green curry in a bowl with lime, red onion, lemon grass, garlic and kaffir lime leaves

Contrasting with the Indian method, the Thai restaurant typically employs fresh herbs and spices in their curry recipes, these include both fresh chillies and roots. As a result, you’ll discover that the foundation of Thai curries is a mixture, rather than dried ingredients. And the cooking time is shorter in comparison.

The foundation of the green curry is consists with young green chilis, this results in a higher temperature of the curry than other curries. Many believe that the natural spiciness of the curry is responsible for its superior taste. However, if you don’t enjoy hot food, this may not be the dish for you.

Tom Yum Goong

Tom Yum Goong
MAKANAN, wikimedia.org

This flavorful and sour shrimp soup is said to have health benefits. Shrimps (kung) are exceptional at providing protein and the plants are packed with vitamins. Chillies in the soup facilitate the dissipation of fat while lemongrass and lime serve as both a supplement and a preventative for colds.

Tom Yum has existed since at least the 14th century, and in one particular legend, the narrative is that a Thai boatman on his way to a Chinese trade mission had a pot of soup that included ingredients like lemongrass, Kaffir Leaves, Galangal and Shrimp Paste. The potent flavors in Thai food are responsible for its popularity, Tom Yum Goong is undoubtedly flavorful. Tom Yum Goong is distinguished from other western soups because the majority of the flavor in the broth is not significant.

Banana Roti

Tom Yum Goong
You can usually buy it at street food stalls and choose from a variety of fillings. We actually always choose bananas. Thai pancakes consist of very thin dough that is fried in plenty of oil. Then add the filling, fold the whole thing into a square and cut into pieces. If desired, top Thai pancakes with sugar or sweetened condensed milk.

Yam Pla Dook Foo

Tom Yum Goong
For this dish, the best choice of words to capture its texture and flavor is ‘fluffy’ and ‘crispy’. Here’s how it works: catfish, after being carefully prepared and fried in small bits (hence “blown up”), becomes a light and spongy fish salad that has a nice taste. What makes it exceptional is the way that the crunchy fish is coupled with a tangy green mango salad that has elements of sweetness, sourness, and spiciness all at once. It is ranked among Thai’s excellent dishes for most Thais have it as an appetizer before any meal or group of friends or as a beer snack.


Spicy Minced Pork Salad on a white plate on wooden table.

One salad that you can’t miss if you are in the northeastern part of Thailand is laab. It is a northeast-style salad made with meat or mushrooms and mint which is actually from the Isan provinces of Thailand. Laab is available in several forms, chicken, pork, and mushroom among others. Be warned, however, that it tends to be rather hot and spicy which may not suit everyone’s taste buds.

Khao Soi

Northern Thai noodle curry soup with chicken (Kao Soi Kai) - Thai food style

When you are in northern Thailand, there is one dish that you should definitely not miss: khao soi – a coconut curry noodle soup. This amazing dish has taken a lot of influence from Burmese cuisine and has its silky smooth coconut curry broth with soft egg noodles. It can be enjoyed with chicken, beef, pork, or vegetarian options.

And as if this weren’t enough, it comes topped with crunchy fried egg noodles and is garnished with pickled mustard greens, shallots, lime, and oil-fried ground chilies! You have to make sure that when visiting northern Thailand, especially Chiang Mai, you add khao soi to your list of must-try dishes.

Pad Krapao

Northern Thai noodle curry soup with chicken (Kao Soi Kai) - Thai food style
One of the most popular dishes in Thailand is, Pad krapao, is usually made from minced pork or chicken (though tofu can also be used). This involves frying the meat with Thai basil and a generous amount of hot chilies. Individuals who are hesitant about unfamiliar tastes may not find it suitable for them as Thai basil has a strong peppery flavor, and the chilies ensure a significant level of spiciness.

If you prefer a milder taste, simply ask the seller to make it “pet nit noi,” meaning slightly less spicy. It is typically enjoyed with plain white rice and topped with a perfectly fried sunny side up egg, often called “kai dao,” which adds extra flavor to its perfection.

Pak Boong

Northern Thai noodle curry soup with chicken (Kao Soi Kai) - Thai food style

Morning glory or pak boong has been valued for a long time due to its unique and outstanding qualities. In terms of vegetables, it is closely related to spinach and widely consumed in many parts of the world as a stir-fried dish where it is flavored with various spices like soybean paste, soy sauce, garlic, chilies, among others. The final product can bring all kinds of tastes including salty, spicy, sour, and crunchiness that provide great satisfaction to any consumer.

This dish may also be made without oyster sauce in cases where vegetarians eat it, yet it does not take much work at all.

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