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 this 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.
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.
I digress… so anyway, I love the rambling description of this Pork Noodle Soup at one restaurant we enjoyed it. Their soup was good, but it cost twice as much as the street food version but I don’t think it was twice as yummy.
2. Fried Pork
Melt in your mouth pork with crispy fried edges. Dip it in that spicy sauce, then eat a bite of fresh cabbage. A side of sticky rice makes this a favorite meal! It’s a bit of heaven on a plate! I’m not entirely sure what part of the pig this is from. Sometimes there’s still a bit of crispy skin attached, but sometimes 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 maybe not the healthiest of the different dishes I’ve been swooning over, but definitely delicious.
3. Pad Thai
Pad Thai. In Thailand. Because you have to whether you think it’s cliche 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. It’s become a familiar kind of comfort food for us, one that I’m ordering 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. The flavor combination stays the same though. Peanuts, green onions and bean sprouts with a squeeze of lime are also constants.
4. Som Tam – Green Papaya Salad with salted egg
I may have a love/hate relationship with Papaya Salad. It lights my mouth up. I made it at home once, a few years ago. That’s when I learned that despite the tiny size of Thai bird chiles, the amount of heat is off the charts. I like it 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. You can see it below. Small bits of egg with a larger bite of the shredded green papaya is just the right combination.
Start with a big mortar and pestle, pound sugar, garlic and chiles to a paste. Add tomatoes and gently crush. Add shredded green papaya, lime juice, green beans (not in all versions) and fish sauce and stir to combine.
5. Garlic Chicken with fried egg and rice
Just what the name implies. Chicken stir fried in a big propane powered wok with lots of garlic and a yummy sauce. The eggs were fried at some point and were setting off to the side. Delicious!
6. Garlic Pork
Because if one of you eats garlic, the other one has to also! Plus it’s just darn good.
So yummy. And no spice, yay!
7. Meat on a Stick
What else is there to say? Meat on a stick for around 20 baht (65 cents) a piece. They’re pre-cooked, but after you choose what you want, the cook heats it back up on the charcoal (or sometimes wood) grill. Chicken (gai), chicken liver, chicken butt (which looks like it’s probably intestine), pork (moo), I don’t know what else. This isn’t the vendor who sells hot dogs on a stick, that’s a different stand altogether.
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. It was 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 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 set the container down.)
9. Fried Rice
Just like Grandma made. Well someone’s grandma! Steve and I were intrigued by the two beauties frying up fried 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. 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. Steve opted for pork. Both 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 because most street vendors have the same place each day.
10. Milk Tea with bubbles
Okay, so maybe this isn’t technically a food, but it 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.
We’ve tried several kinds, but I really like the plain milk tea or the brown sugar one.
Steve got a strawberry tea once, it wasn’t really tea at all. It seems more like straight strawberry juice with a ton of sugar in it. It wasn’t our 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 creme brulee…one of my favorite things to do…ever!
11. Street Sweets: Because who can stop at 10 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!
So many choices in the different stores/stalls you pass by. Usually 10-50 baht ($.32 -$1.60), so cheap that you can choose a couple!
My grandmother used to make these delicate eggs made from sugar, at Easter time. These sugar fish were a nice reminder of childhood. Of course, I admired them by taking their picture, I’m not sure even I could stand that much sweetness!
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 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 should I try?