When you hear a word Thailand - what is the first idea that shoots into your head? For some it’s heat, beaches, lady boys, parties... No wonder - Thailand is a famous place of pleasure, sex tourism and amazing nature. But what about Thai food? Thailand cuisine? If more precisely let's talk about Thai food in the streets. Are you in a group of those who eat in the streets, roadsides or you belong to those who are skeptical about street food? We are somewhere in the middle. Our goal is to try local food wherever we travel. But if I want to have a pizza for my lunch in Thailand - I go to pizzeria.
While travelling in Thailand (Krabi region and Koh Phangan island) we tried Thai food in the street markets and various restaurants. The decision to eat in the streets was one of the best; it gave priceless experience.
"Change your attitude and enjoy flavors of street food"
Dirty, filthy, of bad quality, unhealthy, greasy, and poisonous. Majority of people have such opinion about food in the streets. A stereotypical opinion. Unfortunately such notion leads to undiscovered tastes and some kind of Thailand’s culture.
First Thai food dinner in the streets of Thailand
When visiting evening street markets for the first time I had a critical opinion about eating there. But seeing how local people where coming with their whole families to have dinner I changed my mind. I thought “If local people are eating this food, so it has to be good.” So we decided to have our first dinner in a little street market at Krabi town. It was my first acquaintance with Thai food.
It was interesting experience and funny when I remember it now. I was lucky that menu was in English and I picked a soup with coconut milk. Thought it would be not spicy (as Thai food is famous for its hotness). Somehow we managed to say to the serving woman that we want “little spicy” dishes. We were starving and thirsty. So we ordered local beer.
The dishes arrived, we were happy finally eating. But … for that dinner I had only beer. That evening we learned that “little spicy” means “chilly, hot”. I couldn’t eat that chilliness though the soup smelled so deliciously. And it was delicious, I had no doubt.
"If you want to have just a little bit spicy dish you should say “no spicy”
Don’t be afraid to order from a picture. As I mentioned above it’s not so easy to order Thai food. Only a few food vendors have menu. And if they do, it can be only in Thai language. In that case you choose a dish from the picture, guessing what the dish is made of. But in some situation tasting is left alone or believing into thevendor's words. But it’s the funniest part of ordering Thai food. It’s all about your point of view to the situation. It’s about your attitude to accepting new challenges, in this case tasting something unknown.
We think eating street food is an exciting experience and there is no chance to having negative attitude towards street Thai food. There are several reasons for that:
- Thai food is prepared right away in front of you (how much would you pay in a restaurant were a dish is prepared by your table? the answer is a lot) so it’s freshly cooked.
2. All the ingredients for the dishes are garden-fresh (fish and sea-food are caught the same day - nothing from a freezer). Quantity of dishes is limited if that day’s catch is unluckily just a few fish.
3. Dishes from fish and meat are prepared on grill – so raw meat eaters would be disappointed. No way to worry about uncooked dish. No worry for getting sick or to having stomach “unhappy”.
What concerns washing dishes in the street – so you just have to ignore it. Just don’t bother about it. Again it’s only your attitude. You get Thai food in a clean plate – it’s all what matters. The FOOD itself is the most import.
You can save money and have a king’s dinner
One more reason to eat in the street markets is that it is much cheaper than in a cafe or restaurant. Moreover, you meet local people, try to communicate with them in something like English, you can bargain. These street markets, e. g. in Krabi town, are daily and weekend markets. In the daily markets just Thai food is prepared. Weekend markets are much greater, they are held in a little square. There you can buy not only Thai food but also clothes, shoes, bags, little souvenirs and etc. Local people get dressed during weekend markets. Usually there is some entertainment (a stage is built for singers and dancers). People come with their family, they gather around the tables. You can hear talking, giggling, kids laughing – it seems like the day has just started. But the next morning everything seems as usual.
It is worth mentioning that you can find food not only in the markets. While walking or driving through the town or from town to town you can meet a person grilling shrimps or chicken by the road. Then you just stop and taste it. So we did while riding motor-scooter.
You should buy fruit in the market for your breakfast
As we travelled around Krabi town on the scooter, we had a cup of coffee for our breakfast and headed into sightseeing places. We bought fruit in the street market in the evening and eat them in very different places when the hunger let us know about its existence.
It would be inexcusable not to mention exotic fruit. Now even thinking about yellow mango or papaya my mouth is watering. Only to have fruit for my breakfast I am ready to fly thousands of km to Thailand. Each day we tried some unknown and interesting to us kind of fruit: mango, papaya, dragon fruit, rambuts, durian, rose apples, star fruits, and lychees. Some words of praise go to bananas, pineapples, watermelons. Enough writing – you need to taste them.
A short story about the fish gives me a lesson
As I look so happy before and after eating this delicious fish, I was so sick at night. I was vomiting and had a diarrhea. My stomach was “very unhappy” that night. Now someone will say – I told you this Thai food in the streets is bad. But I do not blame food but myself. I know I cannot eat chilly, so I don’t. But I also cannot eat very greasy food. I have very “sensitive” stomach. While travelling you get to know yourself deeper and deeper not only psychologically but also physically. That was a good experience and it didn’t stop me from eating street food. By the way my husband was safe and sound. So the food, we had for dinners, was good.
You should try at least several traditional Thai food dishes
Thai food is colorful, sour, sweet, and chilly – all these flavors in one dish, and what is unique in Asian street kitchen food is prepared on short sticks and grilled. It’s usually chicken, fish or sea food. The food is exotic, authentic, unique, mysterious, and perfect. We decided on five most common tradition dishes. Photo from: Thai Square
1. Tom Yum Goong (Spicy prawn Soup)
2. Pad Thai (Thai Style Fried Rice Noodle)
3. Gaeng Keow Wan Gai (Green Chicken Curry)
4. Tom Kha Gai (Chicken in Coconut Milk Soup)
5. Kao Pad (Thai Fried Rice)
We tasted and enjoyed much more
As I do not like chilly food so my daily ratio was simple – Pad Thai, Kao Pad and fruit. My husband’s favorite dish was Massaman curry. We can talk about street Thai food for hours but the time is precious. The picture speaks for itself. The surrounding is poor – a few table stalls by the road – the lunch time is almost over – but the chicken was awesome – smile from ear to ear.
"This is link to my travel happiness!"