Once upon a time in Thailand, I ate a sweet-tasting fish, and the rest as they say is history. Okay, okay, maybe that was too dramatic. There was no history there. We ate our Pla Tod which is a deep-fried fish with garlic and turmeric along with a side dish of veggies and rice. We then spent some time lazing on the beach after our meal in Koh Larn and got back in the water. And when we got back to Bangkok, I was determined to find that fish again, but didn’t. There were other Pla Tods made using other local fish, but they never measured up. But that was years ago, and this time I’m determined to find that fish! 🙂
And since we are planning a trip to Bangkok again this year, I’ve asked a few friends to recommend what to eat in Bangkok, Thailand on a visit. Here are the top dishes to eat in Bangkok!
1. Bami Jubkang or Worker’s Noodles
Whether you’re living in Bangkok or just passing through, you have to try a typical dish called Worker’s Noodles (Bami Jubkang).
In Thai, bami means eggs noodles and jubkang means hard worker. So, as you can probably guess—these filling noodles are a common dish eaten by the blue collar laborers of Bangkok.
Bami Jubkang is basically like your childhood chicken noodle soup…but on steroids. With huge chunks of pork piled on top of a mountain of noodles, this meal will leave you stuffed (some people order without the soup juice so they don’t get too full).
My wife and I first tried these noodles at a delicious hole-in-the-wall food stall while on a street food tour in Chinatown. It’s located down a dark alley off of Charoen Krung road, and you’d be hard pressed to find it if you don’t know what you’re looking for.
If you do find it, you’ll be rewarded. It’s not the prettiest (or cleanest) restaurant in town, but don’t let looks deceive you. This family stall has been serving the hard workers of Bangkok for decades and have completely mastered the recipe!
By Mitch from Project Untethered
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2. Tod Mun Pla or Thai Fish Cakes
Thai Fish Cakes are the perfect spicy snack. They’re easy to make and quick to cook.
The Thai name for the fish cakes is ‘Tod Mun Pla’, with ‘Tod Mun’ meaning fried patties and ‘Pla’ meaning fish. It is a snack which is infused with spicy flavours that will make your taste buds dance such as Thai basil and Thai red curry paste, fresh home-grown ingredients.
You can find these delicious fish cakes under the appetisers section on most Thai menus or from the abundance of street food vendors within Bangkok. A bonus is that they’re one of the cheapest street foods to try, so there is no excuse to skip these yummy bites.
If that wasn’t enough, they are often served with a dipping sauce and intricately cut cucumber. More often than not the sauce is a sticky sweet and sour sauce to soothe your tongue from the fiery fish cake. They can also be eaten hot or cold giving you the option to store them in a packed lunch if you’re going out on an adventure.
3. Goong ob Woonsen or Glass Noodles
At Bangkok’s Chinatown, traditionally known as the Yaowarat road, a sumptuous love affair between river prawns and glass vermicelli takes place every night. Those who know they know. Originally, the eatery named T & K used to serve this dish. The iconic glass noodles of Bangkok, served with freshly steamed prawns. They occupy a piping hot icon skillet. Infused with the smell of garlic, this glass noodle goes easy on spice count! They finish before you could bat your eyelids.
China town is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Bangkok. At night, it is lit up with neon lights. Big hotels with animals denoting Chinese annual signs adorn the street side. Tourists as well as locals and expats come to dine here.
Back in 2015, I visited Bangkok for the first time. My love affair with the glass noodles of China Town was instantaneous. The eatery is a small street-side hole in the wall place. A few chairs and tables are spread in front of it. It is a task to find an empty one. Inspired by T & K’s success story, almost all the street-side eateries of China Town have come up with their version of Glass Noodles.
I sat beside a British man, who was visiting China town with his wife. She was a Thai. “We have been frequenting this place for the past 20 years! It only gets better!”
I agree wholeheartedly as I made my way to the China Town for yet again, in 2019. You should also try the Crab cakes and Thai Fish Cakes if you have space for them once you are done eating the Glass Noodles. there is a Chicken variant available nowadays but Prawn triumphs chicken any day, in my opinion!
By Madhurima from Orange Wayfarer
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4. Pad Kra Prao Or Stir Fry
The Pad Kra Prao, which is also spelled as Phat Kaphrao, Thailand’s very own version of a stir fry is one of the best things to eat while in Bangkok. Stir-fried in Thai holy basic and garlic then seasoned with soy sauce, Thai fish sauce, oyster sauce, cane sugar, and bird’s eye chili, this explosive and savory dish is usually served with rice and a fried egg.
What’s brilliant about this dish is that one has a choice of the protein they can add to the stir-fry. If your preference is beef, for example, then just look for Pad Kra Prao Neua and you will get a beef stir-fry. You can also choose kai (chicken), mu (pork), mu krop (crispy pork belly), kung (prawns), muek (squid), and mushrooms (het) for vegans and vegetarians. If you are not fond of pork livers, make sure to remember avoiding tap mu.
The herbs and spices added to the Phat Pad Kra Pao set it apart from the usual stir-fry. It has an aromatic flavor that is hard to forget. It is probably for this reason that it is just as popular as Pad Thai in Thailand.
By Karolina from Lazy Travel Blog
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5. Tom Yum or Hot & Sour Soup
Tom Yum, also known as Tom Yam, is a famous hot and sour soup that is one of the must-try dishes when visiting Bangkok, the bustling capital of Thailand, and one that can easily be found in markets, street-side stalls, right through to upmarket restaurants.
Tom Yum is a mainstay of Thai cuisine with recipes for this dish having been found as far back as 1890, with the name coming from Tom (boiling) and Yam (a spicy and sour salad).
Although the broth for Tom Yum can be either clear or milky, each has an unmistakeable balance of sourness, spiciness, saltiness, and sweetness, with a pleasing citrus taste coming from the inclusion of lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves.
There are many versions of Tom Yum with the most popular, especially amongst visitors to Thailand, being made with prawn (Tom Yum Goong), with other versions including those made with pork, various forms of seafood, eel, chicken, vegetables and coconut flesh.
The key ingredients that make all Tom Yum dishes distinctive include a chilli jam made with crushed chillies, garlic and shallots, and a combination of fish sauce, shrimp paste, galangal, lime juice, herbs such as coriander, mushrooms, and the previously mentioned lemongrass and kaffir lime leaf.
A delicious journey into the complex cuisine of Thailand.
By Markus from The Roaming Fork
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Want to learn how to cook Thai Food?
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6. Khanom Krok or Coconut Pancakes
Strolling past the hawker stalls of Bangkok, dodging tuk tuks and hungry tourists, you can’t help but notice those odd egg-shaped iron griddles, full of sizzling white coconut milk and tended by a careful chef. A signature of any good market, they are the traditional Thai dessert of khanom krok, known to the uninitiated as ‘coconut pancakes’.
Loosely translated as ‘mortar snack’, not much is known about the origin of this street side snack (other than the fact that it’s apparently been around since the early 1300’s!), but what it lacks in heritage it makes up for in taste. Since these miniature pancakes are an absolutely more-ish delight!
Concocted out of coconut milk, rice flour and sugar, the pancakes are made of two distinct sides: a salty and a sweet batter roasted in half circles. These are topped with delights like pandan essence, taro root or sweetcorn, and then assembled to create a ball of delicious, gooey and slightly salty dessert.
Definitely one of the best things to eat in Bangkok, if not one of the most famous snacks in Thailand.
By James from The Travel Scribes
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7. Crispy duck in Bangkok
Finding ana amazing meal is something many dream of when they travel. The problem a lot of the time is finding it, the trial and error can put you off. Foor tours can help you with finding amazing foods you end up loving and that’s how we found the most amazing crispy duck in Bangkok.
Down a small street in the back streets of Bangkok was a small shop with ducks hanging in the windows. We sat down in the open area and were promptly served a dish of crispy duck, rice and the most delicious sauce on top that I have ever tasted.
Not much was known about where the owners of the shop came from but the recipe was handed down through the family and now the son owns the small restaurant. Their ways of making the crispy duck are a well guarded secret and one they weren’t too keen on sharing, even with the leader of the food tour.
You can add chilli to the duck or you can have it without the sauce. We decided to not add chilli and still found it a little spicy but lovely. If you see ducks in the window in Bangkok you should sit and see just how wonderful it is.
By Bec from Wyld Family Travel
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8. Gaeng Keow Waan or Green Curry
Green Curry or Gaeng Keow Waan is hands down, a must-try dish in Thailand. The curry is made from a paste that contains fresh chilies, shallots, garlic, galangal, shallots, and lemongrass. The curry has a strong lemongrass flavor that’s refreshing and satisfying.
The base of the curry is coconut milk – like most curries in Thailand – and after cooking has a mild green color, hence the name. The curry comes out creamy, striking the perfect balance between spicy, and sweet on your pallet.
Green curry is often teeming with vegetables and meat. (Chicken is a popular choice in Thailand)
Our modern-day origins of this dish date back to the first Thai dictionary in 1873 that mentions the word curry (kaeng ) as a watery dish served with rice.
However, the roots of Green curry was date back much further than that, although the dates and authors of this famed dish are lost to time.
Thailand has some of the best food on the planet. And curries are at the center of their cuisine. And Thailand has mastered curries.
So whatever the origin story, Green curry’s one of the first most people backpacking Thailand try, as it walks a fine line between spicy and sweet.
By Stephen from A Backpackers Tale
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9. Som Tam or Papaya Salad
Som Tam (or papaya salad) is a zingy and refreshing dish that encompasses all of the tastes of sweet, spicy, salty and sour and bursts with flavour. This popular food can be found everywhere in Bangkok from street food stalls to high end restaurants. Som Tam originates from the Isaan region in northeastern Thailand, and it is believed that the use of green papaya in salad originated from it’s neighbouring country Laos.
The traditional version of Thai Som Tam is made from shredded unripe papaya (which gives it a crunchy texture) which is then combined with a mix of with spicy chilies, fresh garlic, dried shrimp, fish sauce, sweet palm sugar, peanuts and lime juice. The ingredients are then tossed with cut cherry tomato and chopped green long beans.
Som Tam is a very quick dish to prepare which makes it a great street food dish – all the ingredients are pounded together in a clay mortar with a wooden pestle (tam means pounded in Thai) and is ready to eat in minutes. The dish is almost always served with steamed sticky rice, and usually accompanied with either fish or BBQ grilled chicken to make a perfect meal.
By Caroline from CK Travels
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10. Tom Kha or Thai Coconut Soup
Tom kha is a soup made with coconut milk, galangal, and a variety of other spices typical of Thai cuisine. In many ways, it’s similar to tom yum, another popular Thai hot and sour soup, but the addition of coconut milk adds a rich, creamy texture that makes tom kha irresistible. The coconut milk also helps to temper the spiciness a bit, so if you have a hard time with spicy foods in Thailand you might want to try this dish.
The most common form of tom kha is tom kha kai, which contains chicken (the Thai word for chicken can be transliterated as either “kai” or “gai”). But there are other variations as well, such as tom kha thale with seafood and tom kha mu with pork. Two delicious options for vegetarian and vegan visitors to Thailand are tom kha het with mushrooms and tom kha taohu with tofu.
It’s interesting to note that, 100 years ago, tom kha was not a soup at all. A recipe book published in 1890 describes tom kha as duck meat cooked in coconut broth and galangal. The duck meat was then eaten by dipping it in roasted chili paste. This just goes to show that food culture, like all culture, is constantly evolving.
By Wendy from The Nomadic Vegan
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Tempted to book a flight soon? Me too! I’ve even shortlisted some amazing Thai cooking classes to join.
Join a market tour and then learn how to cook in a traditional Thai house!
Learn about Thai herbs on a small rooftop garden and then cook your own Thai dishes!