My top 10 favorite Bangkok street foods may surprise you! Noelle here, by the way. If you know me, you know I love to eat. I’m excited to eat new things, cook new dishes, peruse recipes on Pinterest for hours. I just love food! It’s probably why I got Bangkok Belly…I try everything, even when sometimes I should maybe exercise caution. 🤷🏻♀️
I’m going to try to narrow my street food favs down to my top 10. It might be hard! If you have your own favorite dishes, that I really must try, please leave me a comment below.
1. Pork Noodle Soup
I think Pork Noodle Soup is actually a Chinese dish that’s become a Thai staple. Ours had ground pork “meatballs”, small bits of ground pork, white “meat” or “fish” balls and a wonton served over rice noodles. It also had morning glory, coriander leaves and fresh mung bean sprouts. At the table were containers of sugar, nam pla fish sauce (instead of salt), dried chili flakes and chili in vinegar to add to our soups. The vinegar and chili flakes really crank up the spice factor. Go gently.
I love love love the noodle soups!
Noodles are pretty much the only dish the Thai use chopsticks for, as most other meals are eaten with a spoon and fork. Interestingly (to me anyway) is that Thais hold the fork in their left (or non-dominant) hand and the spoon in the right. The fork’s job is basically just to push the food onto the spoon. The spoon is what is used to actually eat. I’ve enjoyed seeing different eating patterns in countries we’ve visited. Learning the cultural norms is fascinating to me.
Pork Noodle Soup is NUMBER 1 on my top 10 Bangkok street foods list! I simply love it.
Check out the rambling description of this Pork Noodle Soup at one restaurant where we enjoyed it. Their soup was good, but it cost twice as much as the street food version. Sadly, it did not taste twice as yummy though.
2. Fried Pork
The second dish on my list of top 10 Bangkok street foods is melt-in-your-mouth Pork with crispy fried edges. Dip it in that spicy sauce, then eat a bite of fresh cabbage. Can I get a hallelujah? A side of sticky rice makes this one of my favorite meals! It’s quite literally a bit of heaven on a plate! I’m not entirely sure what part of the pig this is from, as it’s not really bacon. But sometimes there’s still a bit of crispy skin attached. Then other bites find that the crispiness is strictly from the seasonings or whatever the meat is dredged in (flour?). It’s been a fatty dish each time we’ve tried it, so it’s maybe not the healthiest of the different dishes I’ve been swooning over, but Fried Pork and fresh cabbage is definitely delicious.
3. Pad Thai
Pad Thai. In Thailand. Because you have to whether you think it’s cliché or not.
What I’ve actually learned from sampling this rice noodle dish all over Bangkok is that Portland Thai restaurants really get this dish right. Yep, Oregon, we’ve got it going on! Pad Thai is something of a familiar, comfort food for us. So I’ve started ordering it here in Bangkok when all the chili infused dishes just seem overwhelming.
Rice noodle size (very thin or wide) is apparently up to the chef as I haven’t observed an actual norm. However, the flavor combination stays the same. Peanuts, green onions and bean sprouts with a squeeze of lime are also constants. There’s nothing like a good plate of Pad Thai to set my heart at peace.
4. Som Tam – Green Papaya Salad with salted egg
I may have a love/hate relationship with Green Papaya Salad. It. Lights. My. Mouth Up. Like right the f*ck up!
I made it at home once, a few years ago. And that’s when I learned that despite the tiny size of Thai bird chilis, the amount of heat is off the charts. Did I mention the heat lights me right up?!
Som Tam is best with the salted egg. I think it’s boiled? But then it has a shit-ton of salt on top of it. I found a recipe describing the process, which you can read about if you’re so inclined. Small bits of egg with a larger bite of the shredded green papaya is just the right combination. The saltiness mixes with the heat and it’s delicious!
What really is green papaya salad?
Som Tam starts in a big mortar and pestle, where sugar, garlic and chilis get pounded to a paste. Next add tomatoes and gently crush. Then mix in shredded green papaya, lime juice, green beans (not in all versions) and fish sauce. Stir to combine and then eat it right up! It’s a relatively easy dish to prepare, but the flavors are gigantic.
5. Garlic Chicken with fried egg and rice
This dish of Garlic Chicken is just exactly what the name implies. Chicken stir fried in a big propane powered wok with lots of garlic and a yummy sauce. The eggs were pre-fried at some point during the day and were sitting off to the side of the wok, waiting for their debut. The combination: Delicious! We ate this dish at a street food stall just outside of the Temple of Dawn. Rows of little cafes await the hot and hungry tourists. Steve and I sat in front of a high-powered fan, dripping sweat and lapping up this plate of goodness.
6. Garlic Pork
Garlic Pork. Because if one of you eats garlic, the other one has to also! Plus it’s just darn good. This no-spice dish did wonders for my stomach after recovering from my bout of Bangkok Belly. That’s a real sickness! Maybe it’s similar to what happens to people unused to the water in Mexico? But my adventurous spirit caused me some real grief. Yikes!
Garlic Pork is so buttery, garlicy good. You definitely have to make a pact with your traveling partner to eat it too. But neither of you will regret it!
7. Meat on a Stick
#7 of my top 10 Bangkok street foods is Meat on a Stick. What else is there to say? Each stick costs around 20 baht (65 cents) a piece. They’re pre-cooked, but after you choose what you want, the chef heats it back up on the charcoal (or sometimes wood) grill. My choices were chicken (gai), chicken liver, chicken butt (which looks like it’s probably intestine), pork (moo), and I honestly don’t know what the other meats were.
For this Bangkok street food, opt for a vendor who offers the “buffet”: sliced cucumbers, a cilantro-like herb, raw cabbage leaves and a spicy dip. This is communal eating. Everyone’s hand have been in those cucumbers.
There is usually a round igloo-style container of steamed rice in plastic bags. It’s 10 baht. Just reach in and get some. People treat these stands like it’s their own kitchen. As far as I can tell, you don’t pay extra for the buffet. Try dipping a glob of rice (just pinch it out of the bag with your fingers) into the spicy sauce. The locals will laugh when your head catches fire, but I’ve found that they seem to appreciate that I’m trying their cuisine! It feels a little intimidating for this introvert to just make myself at home around the stand, but it’s getting a little easier each time we do it. And the food is so excellent
8. Stir fried Noodle with Chicken
What could be better than crispy thick noodles stir-fried with chicken and morning glory? Not much. This was a delicious meal. Mildly flavored and perfectly cooked. It was my first real meal in three days, following my bout of Bangkok Belly.
It’s street food though, so sometimes you get the good with the bad. I found a very long coarse saffron-colored hair. I pulled it out and threw it on the ground. Soon I found another. I wasn’t positive so was telling myself it was probably some kind of small rice noodle. Ha! The things we try to make ourselves believe. The cook/owner/proprietor of the street stall came out to give us something else. It was her hair. No opportunity for denial. On a regular day, I could have forgotten and continued eating, it was literally that good. On this day, with an already queasy belly, I asked for a take-away container. (After a couple blocks, I quietly set the container down for someone else to enjoy.)
9. Fried Rice
Fried rice. Just like Grandma made. Well someone’s grandma, anyway! Steve and I were intrigued by the two beauties frying up rice goodness in a bowl. We decided they were grandmother and granddaughter. That’s the story we wrote for them and we want to believe it’s true. Their Fried Rice made my top 10 Bangkok street foods list. It probably would be higher up if we’d found them again!
One thing that we have noticed with the vendors is that there often are close relationships among the cooks. We like watching them chatting away with one another. It seems to us that the “sous chef” is usually the main greeter and order/money taker. They do the small chopping and get the plate/bowl ready for the main chef. The vendor relationships are as interesting and intriguing as the food is yummy.
I opted for chicken fried rice, while Steve opted for pork. Both dishes were delicious. Fresh veggies, charred chicken, crispy rice with a good combination of seasoning. It was served with a small chopped cucumber and a wedge of lime to squeeze over the top. A perfect meal!
This fried rice tasted over-the-top fantastic. It was a great fast dinner on our way to Muay Thai Boxing. We looked for this Grandmother and her sous-chef other days but didn’t see them again. It’s interesting that they were gone, because most street vendors seem to have the same place each day.
10. Milk Tea with bubbles
Okay, so maybe this isn’t technically a food, but Milk Tea with Bubbles is delicious! I’ve converted Steve into loving it too. We try to get one in the afternoon just before returning to our hotel to cool off. It’s so refreshing and is actually filling also, so I’m saying it totally fits this category of my top 10 Bangkok street foods!
We’ve tried several kinds of Milk Tea, but I really like the plain version or the brown sugar one.
Steve got a strawberry tea once, which turned out to not really be tea at all. He said it tasted more like straight strawberry juice with a ton of sugar in it. It wasn’t his favorite.
I really like to watch them make it, pouring in the tapioca bubbles then the milk and tea. Then they put the cup on a little contraption that seals a plastic lid onto it. Popping the pointed straw into it sort of reminds me of breaking the sugar on crème brulee…one of my favorite things to do…ever!
11. Street Sweets: Because who can stop at top 10 Bangkok street food favorites?
Okay, one more thing, well really it’s a category. Sweets! Because a girl’s gotta have dessert.
Mango Sticky Rice – it’s not too sweet, usually a little warm, with a sweetened coconut sauce that you pour over the coconut rice. One bite of rice with mango is a really tasty treat!
You’ll find so many sweet choices in the different stores/stalls you pass by. Usually 10-50 baht a piece ($.32 -$1.60), these goodies are cheap enough that you can choose a couple!
My grandmother used to make beautiful and delicate sugar eggs at Easter time. My sisters and I couldn’t wait to get to her house to see the eggs she’d made for each of us. They’d be complete with tiny Easter designs on the inside. So when I saw these pink and white sugar fish, it was a nice reminder of childhood. Of course, I admired them by simply taking their picture, as I’m not sure I could stand that much sweetness anymore!
We tried these sweet jelly like delicacies one evening with coconut ice cream. It was okay. It reminded me of the texture of tapioca pearls (from bubble tea), but a little sweeter.
And finally, there is no shortage of fresh fruit to choose from. We’re wondering if there’s basically a year round growing season because of the warm weather here. On just about any street corner in Bangkok, you can purchase mango, pineapple, pomelo, jackfruit, papaya, bananas, pomegranate and probably others that I can’t remember right now. Some are served with a chili/sugar for dipping. It’s a great combination.
Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed my top favorite street foods in Bangkok! What else do you think I should I try while we’re here?