Everyone agrees that some of the best food in the world is the delectable Thai cuisine. The variety of Thai food – particularly its renowned street food, is remarkable – but it primarily consists of noodles, stir-fries, curries, soups, and salads, which are served everywhere from street food carts to Michelin-starred restaurants in Bangkok.
If you aren’t particularly familiar with Thai food, here are our top 5 picks for must-try iconic meals for the best Thai gastronomic experience:
1. Pad Thai (stir-fried noodles)
Chinese immigrants are said to have brought noodle dishes to Thailand, and undoubtedly Pad Thai is the most well-known of them all. Because it’s not very spicy, this characteristic dish is a fantastic starting point for trying Thai cuisine.
Similar to many dishes, Pad Thai varies regionally but always contains the same basic ingredients: flat rice noodles, seafood (or chicken, pork, or tofu), dried shrimp, tamarind, fish sauce, bean sprouts, shallots, and egg.
Prior to serving, these ingredients are stir-fried in a hot wok and topped with roasted peanuts, fresh herbs, and chillies (optional). Pad Thai perfectly captures the distinctive sweet, sour, and salty flavour combination and well-balanced texture contrast of Thai cuisine.
2. Tom yum goong
This renowned iconic soup dish is a spicy, sour, and aromatic taste bud feast and one of Thailand’s most well-known foods! This spicy transparent soup, which is native to the central part of Thailand, gets its distinctive characteristics from the fusion of flavorful ingredients including aromatic lemongrass, shallots, fish sauce, galangal, mushrooms, kaffir lime leaves, lime juice, and red chilli peppers.
Although shrimp (goong) is the most popular ingredient and is thought to be the tastiest, other options include chicken, fish, or mixed seafood. Thai chicken coconut soup, a northern speciality, offers a milder, sweeter, and delectable alternative if you find this dish to be too hot. It has the same mouthwatering tastes and spices, but the chillies are optional, and the creamy coconut milk reduces the heat.
3. Kaeng lueang (yellow curry)
Thailand’s famous curries, which are always made with coconut milk and have a soup-like consistency, range in intensity from mild to explosive, sweet to sour, and spicy. There are several regional variations, but the three primary curry types, red, green, and yellow, with variations according to heat levels and dominating ingredients, are the most well-known internationally.
Southern Thailand has a significant influence on yellow curry, which has a rich texture and distinctive colour thanks to the liberal use of turmeric. The traditional aromatic components, which typically include coriander, cumin, shallots, lemongrass, and galangal, are mixed together with this. In addition to the chicken, veggies, potatoes, and other protein choices like tofu are also added.
This curry style is suitable for anybody, especially children, who would prefer a mellower taste because it often contains fewer chillies than its green and red curry cousins.
4. Gaeng daeng (red curry)
Red curries are one of the most popular curry types in Thailand. They tend to be milder than green curries but spicier than yellow curries. Crushed red chillies in the curry paste (a mixture of garlic, shallots, blue ginger, and lemongrass), which is then combined with coconut milk, vegetables like tomatoes, eggplant, and mushrooms, as well as chicken breast slices, give this rich, sweet, and aromatic curry its unique red hue.
This curry is topped off with the addition of thinly sliced kaffir leaves and sweet basil, creating a perfectly harmonious blend of creamy and spicy broth that will tingle your senses. Massaman Chicken Curry, one of the most popular red curry variants, is gentle, sweet, and cooked in coconut milk. It is unusual for its less soupy consistency and interpretation of a traditional Persian meal and Indian curry, made with roasted spices, as well as for its mild flavour.
5. Gaeng keow wan gai (green curry)
Green curry, which comes from Central Thailand, is the spiciest of the Thai ‘golden triangle’ of curries and possibly the most well-known dish in the entire world. This wildly famous dish is made primarily of fragrant green chilis, which Portuguese missionaries brought to Thailand in the 16th century and gave the food its distinguishing green colour and fiery flavour.
While the dish contains ingredients found in many Thai curries (such as galangal, shallots, lemongrass, kaffir lime, Thai basil, etc.) and is simmered with coconut milk (which helps to tone things down and adds a rich, sweet nuance), it’s the green chillies that give the dish its intensely spicy flavour. The addition of little eggplants, potatoes, bamboo shoots, and thin slices of chicken breast makes green curry unique.
Got your appetite worked up from reading our article? Make your way to your nearest Thai restaurant to enjoy a popular Thai dish or two today. In case you need a recommendation (of course you do!), here are our recommendations:
Diandin Leluk Thai Restaurant
BeerThai House Restaurant
Siam Square Mookata
Took Lae Dee