There are so many Thai restaurants all over the world offering all the favourites: pad Thai, green curry, spring rolls and satays. Some go a little funkier and offer the slightly more obscure dishes. But when you’re in Thailand itself, navigating restaurant menus can be somewhat trickier.
Here’s a basic guide to authentic dishes in Thailand and how big a set of erm, kahunas you need to get ’em down ya. Read to see how adventurous your food palate is. Are you willing to go to the deep end of Thai cuisine?
Keeping it safe on the deckchair.
Chicken satays. They’re chicken, on a stick, with some thick peanut dipping sauce. What’s not to like? You could even push the boat out and go for some beef – or even pork.
This Thai favourite has all the elements: texture, flavour and all sorts of different things in it to keep you interested throughout the meal. It may not be the most risqué of dishes, but it’s certainly a real crowd pleaser.
Massaman Beef Curry
Want a curry without the spice? Massaman’s a goer. It’s thick and creamy owing to crushed peanuts and coconut cream. The big chunks of slow-cooked beef are also ideal for those cautious of ‘funny bits’ of meat.
Tom Kha Gai
Deliciously moreish, this coconut soup with slices of chicken breast is great as a starter, or you can have it as a main with some rice. Just watch out for the slices of lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves, which are added for flavour but can’t be chewed – although you’re more than welcome to try.
Dipping your toe in.
Thai Mango Salad with Dried Shrimp
As long as you’re down with fish sauce and dried shrimp, you’re bound to love this one. It’s crunchy, zingy and healthy, too.
Roasted Duck Red Curry
Duck is a funny one for some. But for those who love this darker poultry, a roasted duck red curry is truly delicious.
Whole Fried Fish
Deep-fried whole fish is a Thai favourite, especially for special events. It looks pretty spectacular on the plate, and when served with a salad and lime-packed dressing, it impressive on the palate, too.
Whoa! Mate, you’re in the deep end.
Papaya Salad with Fermented Mussels
You can smell this dish before it even arrives at the table – it’s pungent. It comprises a very spicy papaya salad with fermented mussels threaded throughout. As far as fishy flavours go, this is just about as full on as you can get.
Deep Fried Locusts
You may have seen these being sold by hawkers in the streets of Bangkok. Although they may not be that attractive to the eye, they’re loved for their crunchy texture.
It’s pretty obvious what this is. It’s soup. With giblets in it. You’ve got a pork broth soup base filled will all manner of giblet goodies: there’s kidney, liver, stomach lining and more.
Key Thai Words to Know at a Restaurant:
• Hello: Sawade-kaa (female) Sawade-krap (male)
• Spicy: Phet
• I don’t want: Mai ow
• Delicious: Aroy
• Thank you: Kap khun ka (female) Kap khun krup (male)
• Check please: Check bin