What you should eat in Bangkok, Thailand

A taste of real Thai grub.

As I mentioned in my Thailand post, here’re the most legit Thai food I believe everyone should try.

1. Pad kra pao (holy basil stir-fry)

The most common Thai dish not many tourists have tried.

The reason why I listed this dish first is for two reasons. One, it’s the most popular street food in Thailand. Two, it blows my taste buds away.

Every. Single. Time.

Maybe it’s the wok-seared minced meat. Maybe it’s the aromatic fragrance of the basil as it melts with the chilis and garlic. Or perhaps it’s the crispy egg with the runny yolk. Either way, Pad kra pao is a very cheap dish (35–70 baht, $1–2) and can practically be found in almost every restaurant or street. There’s different versions you can try — chicken, pork (my favorite!), beef, fish, shrimp, squid, you name it! But it’s really the Thai basil that makes this a great comfort food, as well as a popular lunch choice, for many Thais.

Best Pad kra pao: 
Baan Restaurant

Open hours: 
Wednesday-Monday: 11:30am-2:30pm, 6:00pm-10:30pm
Closed on Tuesdays

139/5 Wireless RD, Lumpini, Prathumwan, Bangkok 10330, Thailand

2. Som tum (green papaya salad)

One of the most refreshing salads in the world! It’s really this Thai vinaigrette that keeps customers drooling for more.

Out of all the foods that exist on this world, I hated papaya the most. Because anytime someone cracked it open, it reeked of hair perm — something that cuts my appetite to 99%. But after seeing so many people eat this dish on the streets and at restaurants, I decided, “why not?”

Now, Som tum is my #1 craving whenever I think of Thai food. It’s basically a mountain of shredded green papaya, sliced tomatoes & carrots, green onions, peanuts that are tossed with a tangy, citrus vinaigrette. Just scoop a mouthful on top of some Thai sticky rice, and your mind will just float up to heaven.

One serving of this salad is 30–60 baht ($0.86-$1.71). Highly, highly recommend!

Best Som tum:
Som Tam Jao Khun (ร้านส้มตำเจ้าคุณ)

Open hours:
Daily, 11am-10pm

8 ถนน กัลปพฤกษ์ Khwaeng Bang Khun Thian, Khet Chom Thong, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10150, Thailand

3. Pad Thai

Another popular street food item in Thailand and one that’d make you not want to go back home.

It’d be weird if I didn’t mention Pad Thai in this list, especially when it’s the first (and for some of us, the only) choice we Americans order at a Thai restaurant. I mean, what else could be better than those lip-smacking dry noodles infused with a sweet-sour tamarind sauce? Plus you get all those extra goodies: the tofu, bean sprouts, peanuts, green onions, shrimp/some meat, and a slice of lime.

Incase you never been to Thailand, I’d say the Pad Thai tastes 10x better than the ones served in the US. Plus, it’s ridiculously cheap! Just 35–90 baht ($1-$2.57) for a satisfying meal.

Best Pad Thai: 
On the streets. Seriously. Even though the picture shows “Thip Samai,” an overrated tourist-favored Pad Thai restaurant, I tasted better ones from the street vendors.

4. Thai curry

A heartwarming bowl of Penang curry — my top pick among all Thai curries.

I’m a huge curry lover — Indian curry, Malaysian curry, Japanese curry, Indonesian curry. But there’s something about Thai curry that keeps me coming back for more. And I think it’s the rich coconut cream flavor that combines so well with their homeland curry paste, which normally has lemongrass, chilis, garlic, shrimp paste, coriander seeds, cumin seeds.

The only thing I didn’t like about the authentic Thai curry was the green pea eggplants (I thought they were sweet peas 😣) they add. They’re extremely bitter! Surprisingly some people like these peas for the texture and flavor. Just not for me.

By the way, keep in mind there’re several kinds of curries Thailand offers: Red, Yellow, Green, Massaman, Penang. Whichever you choose, you won’t be disappointed. Although they’re a bit more liquidy than the American-style Thai curries.

Best Thai curry: 
Queen of Curry

Open hours:
Daily, 10am-10pm

Charoen Krung 50 Alley, Khwaeng Bang Rak, Khet Bang Rak, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10500, Thailand

5. Kanom buang (Thai crispy pancakes)

I call these sweet Thai tacos!

The day I arrived in Thailand, my Airbnb host took me to a little street near the Talat Phlu station for real Thai food. And one of them she highly recommended, Kanom buang — a thin crispy crepe stuffed with golden yolk threads, a white gooey meringue, and shredded coconut. Of course, I didn’t know what went inside that taco shell. But once I took my first bite, my stomach couldn’t stop thinking about it. Let’s just say the next week, I bought a giant bag of these tiny tacos and just munched on them while I worked.

Talk about spoiling my workout!

There’re savory Kanom buang too but unfortunately I only tried the sweet kinds. Do give these a try though — they’re nice little snacks/desserts!

Best Kanom buang:
On the streets. The best one I found was underneath the Talat Phlu Junction Bridge.

Open hours:
Daily (not too sure about the exact hours)

Talat Phlu Junction bridge Krung Thep Maha Nakhon, จังหวัด กรุงเทพมหานคร 10600, Thailand

6. Moo yang naam tok (Spicy Thai pork salad)

How about a refreshing meat salad? 😛

Som Tum (Thai papaya salad) is nice for a light lunch. But there’re times when I feel like treating myself even more, and that’s when I get Moo Yang Naam Tok. The literal translation is “grilled pork waterfall” which derives from the juices hitting the charcoal as it’s cooked using a BBQ. The meat is thinly sliced to tenderness, mixed together with fresh herbs and dressed with a spicy-lime vinaigrette.

It’s traditionally eaten with sticky rice or raw vegetables. To be honest, you just need the sticky rice. Nothing else matters.

Best Moo yang naam tok:
Som Tam Jao Khun (ร้านส้มตำเจ้าคุณ) — same place as the som tum!

Open hours:
Daily, 11am-10pm

8 ถนน กัลปพฤกษ์ Khwaeng Bang Khun Thian, Khet Chom Thong, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10150, Thailand

7. Mango sticky rice

The most-talked about Thai dessert: Mango sticky rice | Photo Credit: Bulan

Thailand is full of ripe, juicy mangoes (especially from April-June). And while Thailand isn’t quite known for their desserts, they make a bomb mango sticky rice. You can find this at many Thai restaurants, but honestly, I think the street vendors make it better. They usually layer slices of sweet mango over a sweet-salty glutinous rice, drizzled with sweet coconut cream and sprinkled with crisp, roasted salty mung beans.

I forgot to take a nice shot of my mango sticky rice, so my Airbnb host lent me hers (thanks Bulan!). 🙂

Best Mango sticky rice:
Don’t recall the name since it’s all Thai. But located the address below.

Open hours:
Daily, 10am-5pm

Near 1333–1337 ถนน เทอดไท Khwaeng Talat Phlu, Khet Thon Buri, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10600, Thailand

8. Egg-drop coconut ice cream

Coconut ice cream and raw egg? Mixed together? Ew!

Those were my first thoughts when my Airbnb host showed me an ice cream vendor drop an egg yolk onto a perfectly nice tub of untouched coconut ice cream and mix it in, until it became a solid swirl of golden yolk. And while I had to hold my disgusted thoughts back from ruining a good 1st experience, I was pleasantly surprised by how well these two ingredients came together.

The frozen egg gives the coconut ice cream more texture and adds little bits of chew. You won’t taste anything weird (I promise! …unless the egg’s gone bad). And the coconut ice cream tastes exactly how coconut tastes except it’s more rich and creamy.

Best Egg-drop coconut ice cream:
Ni-Ang Nam Kaeng Sai Ice-cream (นิ-อ่าง น้ำแข็งไส ไอศครีม)

Open hours:
Daily, 5pm-2am

Talat Phlu, Thon Buri, Bangkok 10600, Thailand

My personal favorites in Thailand

Boy, there’s just so many more foods I want to list. Maybe if I was a food blogger, I’d would add 10+ more. But to keep this short and sweet, here’re a few of my favorites.

Shredded chicken herb salad | Strawberry cheesecake shaved snow | Grilled pork meatball skewers (Photo Credit: Bulan)
Seafood omelette (Photo Credit: Bulan) | Hainan chicken with a chili soy and sweet-sour dipping sauce | Tom yum noodle soup
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I’m Tiffany Sun, and I write on misstiffanysun.com.

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Thank you so much for reading. 🙂