Khanom Bueang, otherwise known as ‘Thai crepes’, are popular street foods in Thailand. They resemble Mexican tacos, but are made from rice flour rather than corn flour. I have travelled through Thailand extensively but had never really noticed these “tacos” before (shock! horror!), not even in the markets of Chiang Mai or on Bangkok’s Khao San Road. That was before a chance meeting with these Khanom Bueang snacks in Kanchanaburi Province after a morning on the Death Railway. It was love at first sight!
Khanom Bueang are usually first topped or filled with coconut cream, followed by sweet or savoury toppings such as shredded coconut, egg yolk strands, or chopped scallions. They are thin and crispy, and contain a juicy interior. It is claimed that Khanom Bueang has existed in some form since the days of Buddha, and it seems that with every passing generation, the Thai tacos are becoming more and more common to ordinary Thai folk.
I am told the most popular and common variation of Khanom Bueang is the Royal Thai Style. These are filled with white cream and topped with a sweet or salty topping. The sweet topping is made from golden egg yolk threads (they eat a lot of this in Thailand). The salty topping contains chopped shrimp mixed with pepper and parsley. For hungry backpackers exploring a new country on an empty stomach, Khanom Bueang tick all the right boxes, especially in terms of colourful appearance and the amazing smell as they as are grilled beside the road.
Perhaps the first time I ever encountered Khanom Bueang was a few years ago, yet it seemed to be cooked differently to the typical type you see sold as street food today. My original version looked more like a real crepe with little to no filling (like a very plain Banh Xeo from Saigon), whereas the ones I fell in love with many years later are smaller and contain much more variety of filling. Maybe I did actually eat a Banh Xeo after all?
Shockingly, this relatively new find for me meant that Khanom Bueang was not featured in my list of the Best Street Food in Thailand last year, but then again we all live and learn! I wonder Mexicans think of these Thai tacos?