Ninety nine percent of holidaymakers or expats in Thailand know about obvious meal ordering choices such as Tom Yum Goong or Thai Green Curry. However, here are sixteen dishes to order that you may not have tried yet.
1) Tom Saap (Soup Isaan Style) ต้มแซบ
This spicy Isaan style soup is relatively clear and contains galangal, spring onions, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass and chillies. This soup usually contains pork and really packs a spicy punch if you like hot food. It’s not high in calories, so is ideal if you are on a diet too.
2) Gaeng Hanglay (Hanglay Thai Curry) แกงฮังเล
A tremendously rich curry that contains shrimp, chilli paste, garlic and roasted peanuts. It’s like Thai red curry but with more body. Delicious with either pork or beef and has a very deep dark brownish-red colour. You can have Gaeng Hanglay with rice, or . . . we’d like to recommend having it with English style chips too.
3) Khao Soi (Northern Thai Curry) ข้าวซอย
If you’ve never tried Khao Soi before you are in for a treat. It is yellow curry consisting of masala and coconut milk. There are crispy flat egg noodles on top, with soft flat egg noodles on the bottom. This dish usually comes with a small side dish of additional ingredients so that you can make it hotter, more sour or with more onion if you wish.
4) Pad Yord Mala ผัดยอดมะระ
A tricky dish to find, but if you do spot it you will see a colourful dish with melon leaves, onion, chillies, garlic and oyster sauce. You’ll usually have to actively hunt for this one as it is not usually on most street food menu lists.
5) Gai Pad King ไก่ผัดขิง
This is a common dish in Thailand, but it’s surprising when you find out how many people have never tried it. A bitter sweet meal with chicken in a strong ginger sauce, usually served with rice. After eating Gai Pad King it leaves you feeling refreshed and kind of wakes you up with the strong ginger punch that it has.
6) Faktong Pad Kai ฟักทองผัดไข่
This one is a rare one that you’ll be lucky to come across if you ever see it on a menu. It is a simple but unusual dish, with soft pumpkin mixed in with a kind of scrambled egg.
7) Pla Too Tod Camin (Fried Mackerel coated in Turmeric) ปลาทูทอดขมิ้น
Delicious fried mackerel coated in shredded turmeric root. If you love fish it will be worth hunting for this one, although if you can’t find it, this meal will be pretty simple to make yourself at home.
8) Pla Gapong Neung Manao ( Steamed Fish in Lime) ปลากะพงนึ่งมะนาว
This super healthy steamed fish meal with chillies, herbs and sour lime sauce will be fairly easy to find, especially in restaurants. Extremely low in calories and packed with flavour, with a sauce that does not pull any punches.
9) Laab Pla Duk (Catfish Spicy Salad) ลาบปลาดุก
You may have tried Laab Moo already as it is very popular in food courts, street food spots and in restaurants. However, Laab with catfish is a good dish to taste, as although it is made in a similar way to the pork version, it has an altogether different taste.
10) Moo Det Diaow (Sun Dried Fried Pork) หมูแดดเดียว
This meal makes for a great side dish or a snack with beer. Strips of pork are first hung to dry in natural sunlight, then they are deep fried. These strips go well with sticky rice and have a deep rich flavour that must be tried.
11) Kua Kling (Southern Dry Curry) คั่วกลิ้ง
If you live in Bangkok, you’ll know that it is bizarrely difficult to find good southern Thai food, so this meal maybe a little tricky to find in the capital. Normally pork based or sometimes with beef, mixed with a spicy array of dry spices, peppercorns and chillies. If you are having a hard time finding Kua Kling, you can sometimes find this meal in microwave form in 7 Eleven stores. The microwave version isn’t fantastic of course, but it will give you a teaser taste.
12) Yam Kai Dao (Fried Egg Thai Salad) ยำไข่ดาว
Yam is great to have with a beer or as a side dish, but if you try Yam Kai Dao it is more of a complete meal as protein has been added to the mix in the form of fried eggs. The bite size chunks of fried egg taste great after soaking in the lime juice and chillies.
13) Cha Om Kai (Acacia Thai Omelette) ชะอมไข่
Cha Om is made with acacia tree sprouts, which are tender and nutritious, mixed with egg. Crispy on the outside and delicious with Gaeng Som Soup or with Shrimp paste and chilli sauce (nam prik kaphi). Served in bite sized squares, cha om kai literally soaks up soups or sauces.
14) Jim Jum (Pot of Soup) จิ้มจุ่ม
Eating jim jum is not just a food . . . it’s a unique experience, especially if you stop off at a road side jim jum street restaurant. First you are given a red clay pot of broth with coals burning underneath, then you can add meat, noodles, herbs, eggs and whatever else you fancy into the soup, which ends up like a kind of herby Thai version of stew. Great to order with beer or when hanging out with friends, as jim jum takes time to eat. Don’t bother picking leaves off the herbs to throw into the pot; just grab a bunch of herbs, twist and rip them apart, then bung them all in, as the stalks soften up nicely in the broth.
15) Geng Kee Lek (Kassod Leaf Curry) แกงขี้เหล็ก
If you ever see this curry on the menu, be sure to take the opportunity to try it, as this one is not easy to come across. The reason why it is not normally on most menus is that it takes a long time to make. First, you have to cook the initially bitter and tough leaves of the Kassod Tree for a long time, after which coconut milk is added which brings out the flavour and makes for a very unique tasting curry that not many people get to try in their lifetimes.
16) Pad Satdaw (Bitter Beans) ผัดสะตอ
Normally served with shrimps or pork, pad satdaw uses ‘stink beans’ which Thai friends will tell you makes your breath smell. Despite being stinky, these beans are packed with flavour and any stinky breath can be negated simply by popping some breath freshener mints into your mouth afterwards.