Thai Food 101 – What To Order at a Thailand Restaurant

thai food 101

When it comes to eating Thai food in Thailand, I’m going to tell you a secret:

It’s all pretty damn good!

A few places may make your favorite dish a little better than others, but that’s about it.

It really doesn’t matter where you order it from. Thai’s make Thai food good whether you are at an expensive restaurant or eating at a small shop along the street. All it really comes down to is how much you prefer to pay.

Personally, I like to pay no more than 60 baht (2usd) for a Thai meal.

With all this in mind, if you are anything like me, before I came to Thailand I had no idea what to order. I knew some of the basics like Fried Rice, but that’s about it.

Unless you have an Asian food fetish, there is a good chance that you’ll play it safe when you first order Thai food. I was the same. Here is a list of “safe” Thai food to order:

5 Safe (non-spicy) Thai Dishes:

Chicken Fried Rice
Chicken Pad Thai
Fried Chicken Cashew Nut
Chicken Satay
Chicken and Rice (Khao man gai)

These are some great dishes to start out with if you are a picky eater or just haven’t developed the taste palate for Thai food yet. You can easily exchange chicken for pork or beef and these dishes are not spicy, unlike most Thai food.

However, as time goes by you will probably branch out to more “traditional” Thai food. Here is a list of 10 other Thai dishes worth trying:

10 Must Have Thai Dishes:

1- Chicken Panang

2- Massaman Curry

3- Chicken Coconut Soup

4- Som Tam

5- Khao Pad Gai

6-Tom Yam Goong

7- Kuay Tiew (Noodle Soup)

8- Geng Kheaw Wan Gai (Green Curry Chicken)

9- Gai Pad Pongali

10- Kao Niew Moo Yang

For the above Thai dishes, be sure to say “not spicy.” Even if you think you can handle spicy, you will quickly find out that what you thought was spicy, isn’t even close to what Thais consider spicy 🙂

Posted on Gods of Thailand October 7, 2013 in ,


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  • Mark S says:

    Personally I’m not a fan of anything with coconut milk in (used to eat them a lot but after a bad one when hungover and vomiting the coconut flavoured sauce back up one day I can’t even smell them now) so curries are out for me.

    Shame as I used to love khao soi with the crispy noodles and pickled condiments.

    I love pad ka pow especially with gai tord (fried chicken) like my local restaurant does it. The basil is nice and crispy, the chicken delicious. Arroi mak indeed!

    Big fan of Rad Na Moo (flat noodles and pork in a flower based tasty gravy, not spicy) as well and think everyone should try it.

    Hard to find where I live in BKK but Sai Oha (Northern Style sausage) is delicious where as most Thai sausages I don’t like much.

    Chicken with chilli and lime always blows my head off with the spiceyness but I love it.

    Can’t beat some suki too.

    Som Tam is always delicious. Fried chicken goes down a treat. Moo ping (pork sticks) are a great snack.

    By the way to get not spicy simply say “mai ao phet”.

    God damn I love Thai food.

    • The funny thing is, I didn’t even know that I loved Thai food until after living in Thailand for many months.

      So easy to get into a rut and only order the basic foods that you already know you like. Then you have that one hot Thai girl that forces different types of Thai food down your throat…and after you get past how fucking spicy it is…you realizes it’s damn good.

      • Mark S says:

        Yes I notice that expats will either fall into 2 categories, those who love Thai food and those who ‘claim’ to hate it because it’s ‘all the same’.

        Those who love it have continued to try lots of different dishes and realized it’s very varied and there’s a lot of different things to enjoy.

        Those who claim they hate it usually only ever eat about 3 different dishes because that’s all they know, they can’t speak Thai so can’t order anything all, they go to the same places all the time which have limited choices or they are too scared to step out their comfort zone so end up eating the same basic meal over and over again until they sicken themselves of it then claim “it’s all the same”.

        A wide variety of food out there if you are willing to try it.

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