It’s no surprise that Thailand is one of the best destinations for food; some people even travel to the country just to gorge on delicious dishes. In fact, there are so many dishes in Bangkok that it’s hard to know where to begin.
There’s no better place for a crash course on Thai food than Bangkok. This is where you’ll see stereotypical, tourist-friendly dishes alongside more traditional local fair. Thai food is generally characterized by sweet and sour notes, not to mention a hit of spice.
Here are five dishes you should try when in Bangkok:
Tom Yung Goong
This spicy and sour soup is often found in Thai restaurants around the world, but it’s not as popular as other particular dishes. There’s no reason that this should be the case, as tom yung goong is a great way to introduce yourself to Thai cuisine. Tom Yum Kung Restaurant is located in Bangkok’s Banglumpoo district, and is often the first restaurant that comes to mind when thinking about this dish.
Khao Man Gai
Khao man gai is easily found all across the city, with its budget-friendly price and hearty servings making for the perfect dish. It’s enjoyed by a cross-section of locals, from hungry college kids to Thai bookmakers and fighters looking to eat after a Muay Thai match. Indeed, Vice notes that this take on Hainanese chicken is a go-to breakfast for many Muay Thai fighters during their training.
Gaeng Tai Pla
This fish curry dish finds its roots in southern Thailand, and speaks to the rich seafood culture within the country. Gaeng tai pla, or fish kidney curry, is definitely not for the faint of heart: it’s a quintessentially spicy Thai dish cooked with green bird’s eye chillies. The Local serves a great version of this dish, as long as you don’t mind sweating it out in the restaurant’s plush interiors. Cups of rice can help curb the fire, and remember to stay away from water!
Kuay Teow Reua
Our previous article on Thai food’s history lists the widespread Chinese influence, which can be seen in kuay teow, or noodles. Kuay teow reua is also referred to as boat noodles, as these bowls were traditionally served by vendors on their boats. Locals flock to Doy Kuay Teow Reua, a small stall that’s known to serve the richest dark brown broth with tender meat cuts and translucent noodles. Crunchy water spinach is also included for a well-rounded meal.
Gaeng jued is a simple vegetable soup, featuring carrots, cabbage, and onions amidst a clear broth (although there are also pork options available for those who prefer it). Most restaurants will have this on their menu, as locals tend to sip it in between spoonfuls of richer dishes. Aside from being a palate cleanser, it’s also just a soul-warming dish for any time of the day.
Pad thai and satay are obvious choices, but going out of your comfort zone will reward you with your new favorite dish and an incredibly happy tummy.