Some people tell me that Thailand has the best food in the world. This makes me very curious to seek out some of the finest snacks on offer. Throughout Thailand, street food is popular and eaten almost daily by the locals, but especially so in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, where food is considered a religion! So what are the best snacks that Thais eat on the move?
Kai Yang certainly gets my vote as the best grilled chicken in the world. Unlike some other East Asian chicken dishes, kai yang is NOT deep-fried nor breaded, it is just succulent grilled in all its own juices, often on the street before your very eyes once you’ve ordered. The impromptu grilling gives the meat a strong taste of charcoal, but the juices remain.
Kaeng Pa (“Jungle Curry”) is a variety of Thai curry from northern Thailand. Like most curries from northern Thailand, kaeng pa contains no coconut milk, as coconuts are not naturally found in the jungles of the Thai highlands. Much to the amusement of tourists everywhere, who crave this curry as daily street food, kaeng pa is highly spicy, with ingredients such as lemongrass, galangal, and garlic. It was originally prepared with wild boar but is now more commonly prepared with pork or chicken.
Tod Mun Pla Krai are a perennial favourite in Thailand, especially with backpackers who are looking for a quick snack on the move. They are fish cakes that have been fried in batter and are often served with crunchy green-leafed salad.
Pad Thai could be considered as the national dish of Thailand, but in keeping with the country’s association with street food, Pad Thai is actually a common dish found on the roadside. Every visitor to Thailand will want to try this stir-fried noodle dish, and it is often served up with seafood, egg, and tofu.
Moo Ping is a simple street food of skewered lamb. Alongside chicken, lamb is extremely popular in Thai cuisine, and more so than in the cuisines of neighbouring countries. Moo Ping is one of those finger foods that Thais of all ages can enjoy!
Khao Tom Mat must surely go down as one of the most popular street foods in the whole of Thailand. It is a simple snack of sticky rice, coconut milk, and bananas, which is then wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed. The banana usually turns purple once cooked in this way. There are regional variants of khao tom mat all over Asia, but the Thai version is certainly the tastiest!
Roti Kluai is a simple banana roti, and while may not sound like a typical Thai snack, it is one of the most talked about food items among backpackers to Thailand. Indian roti bread is served up covered in condensed milk (or coconut milk), sugar, and of course the eponymous bananas – many of which will have been warmed inside the actual roti.
Khao Man Kai is the Thai take on Hainanese chicken rice. As you would expect, it has a distinct spicy Thai flavour, and with all the accompanying chicken broth (known as nam sup), it can become quite a messy eat! Strangely, Thais don’t seem to eat this dish beyond lunchtime – so that means there’s more left over for the tourists!
Sai Ua is also known as the Chiang Mai Sausage and contains minced pork meat, herbs, spices, and kaeng khua red curry paste. Sai Ua is usually eaten with sticky rice, but as one of the most popular street foods in Thailand, some people just eat it on its own.
Boat Noodles have their origins from the streets that line the canals (klongs) of Bangkok, where the thin rice noodles would be served to fishermen and boatmen throughout the day. These noodles are usually served with a soup-like broth and contain strips of both pork and beef.
I-dtim Mat Phrao is the name of the ice cream variety best known in Thailand. The ice cream here is made from coconut milk, rather than cow’s milk, so you can imagine it has a very ‘Thai’ taste to it! Wherever you go in Bangkok, you will be confronted with sellers of this ice cream and it has a certain romanticism about it. For me, it is one of the top ice cream varieties in the world!
Tom Yum is the famous soup of Thailand and has now been exported around the world. This sour and spicy soup is known for its generous use of chili peppers, and in Bangkok and other urban areas of the country it is common to see Thais sitting on the street slurping their latest cup of Tom Yum without a care in the world!
This concludes my look at 12 of the best street foods in Thailand. Have you been to Thailand and tried the local street food here? What did you think of it? Did you find anything you didn’t like?