Food and dining are very important to Thai people. They are willing to travel the extra mile to sample good food. Thais greet each other with ‘Have you had rice yet?’, which is not meant in the literal sense. Whatever the occasion is – formal or informal, family get-together or business meeting – food is always at hand.
Thai cuisine is famous world over for its mouth-watering dishes. However, in Bangkok, you will find restaurants serving cuisines from all over the world. Therefore, this is the right place to experiment with dishes from various cuisines.
Most of the yummy Thai foods have their origins in the streets. Street food is a big hit with the local population. Many of the street vendors are open until small hours, which is a proof that the food is good here. Many restaurants close shop at 9pm or even earlier.
Bangkok offers you the choice of ultra-luxury restaurants and inexpensive street foods and everything in between. Whatever your budget is, you will be able to find a suitable eatery and rest assured you would not be disappointed.
Smokers beware! Smoking is strictly prohibited inside air-conditioned restaurants in the city. A fine of 2,000 baht for the smoker and 20,000 baht for the restaurant owner is a good enough reason not to light-up. Licensed pubs serving food are exempted from this rule. However, in most of the Japanese and Korean restaurants, smoking is permitted.
So while in Bangkok, get ready to pamper your stomach.
Thai cuisine has devoted followers worldwide. While in Bangkok, you get a chance to sample the authentic Thai cuisine. The cuisine has evolved over years with exposure to different cuisines of the world. Both western and eastern cuisines have influenced Thai cuisine –French, Portuguese, Dutch from the west and Chinese, Indian and Japanese from the east.
For Thais, meals are family affairs and meant to unite people. Rice is the staple food. It is accompanied by a slew of dishes and curries made from locally available ingredients. The ancient practice of wrapping and serving food in materials available in nature is still practiced today. Desserts are wrapped in banana leaves and drinks are served in coconut shells.
Unlike western cuisine, none of the Thai dishes are meant to be eaten alone. During meals, all the dishes are served in one go and the diner have the prerogative to mix and match various dishes to suit his/her palate.
Thais believe in the heating and cooling properties of foods, based on the Chinese yin and yang. The smelly ‘King of Fruits’ durian is a heating fruit, while pears and Mangosteen are cooling fruits. The heating fruits, it is believed, if consumed in excess can lead to sore throat and fever and cooling fruit may cause chill and dizziness. Hence, when you are eating make sure to balance both to avoid discomfort and illness.
Here is a list of popular Thai dishes and drinks.
• Tom Yam Goong —– Spicy shrimp soup
• Tom Kha Gai —– Chicken in coconut gravy
• PhadThai —– Thai-style fried noodles
• Mu/Gai sa-te —– Pork/chicken skewers
• Som Tam —– Spicy green papaya salad
• Yam Nuo —– Spicy beef salad
• Gai Yen —– Grilled chicken
• Phanaeng —– Meat in coconut cream
• Kaeng Phet Pet Yang —– Roast duck curry
• Kaeng Khiao Won Gai —– Green curry chicken
• Phad Kaphrao —– Stir-fried meat with sweet basil
• Gal Phat Met Mamuong Himmaphan —– Stir-fried chicken with cashew nuts
• Nom Ma Prao —– Coconut juice
• Nam Krojeab —– Rosella flower juice
• Nam Matoom —– Bael fruit juice
• Nam Ta-krai —– Lemongrass juice
• Nam Tao Hoo —– Hot soy bean milk
• Cha Yen —– Thai iced tea with condensed milk
In Thai cuisine, this is called Kanom Thai and it includes all sweet-tasting eatables and snacks as well.
Thai desserts are normally not available even in Thai-cuisine restaurants abroad as the ingredients are difficult to find and preparation demands lots of effort and time. In Thai meals, desserts are not customary at the end of the meal.
The bright green color of Thai sweets may shock the diner. However, it is due to the native ingredients like coconut and pandan that the sweets get such bright colors.
Here is a list of popular Thai sweets.
Kanom Chun – Thai jelly made from tapioca flour, sugar and coconut. This green sweet comes in Chun or layers.
Kanom Krok – Small coconut-cream hotcakes
Kanom Bueng – Crispy crepes with coconut filling
Thong yip/Thong yod/Foi Thong – Golden Egg Pinches (Yip)/Drops (Yod)/ Shreds (Foi)
To those not used to seeing Thai fruits, it may be bewildering initially. Their strange colors, shapes, sizes and names add to the mystery. Some are furry, some spiky and some are foul smelling like durian.
In Thai cuisine, fruits are eaten as snacks or as desserts or sometimes included in meals. It is common to see street vendors selling chilled fruits of the particular season. From a hygienic point of view, buying from these vendors may not be a good idea. You will find all kinds of fruits all through the year in supermarkets, but each fruit taste the best during specific season.
The real taste of Thai food is in its street food. The local population endorses this view by eating out at roadside eateries from morning till night. The street vendors usually specialize on lunch or dinner menu. These vendors are found in clusters selling varieties of food. These foods are definitely not to be missed.
These are some streets where eateries are found in plenty.
Sukhumvit Soi 38: At night, the area below the Thing Lor BTS station fills up with vendors. This place is famous for egg noodles or Hong Kong noodles and sticky rice with mango.
Surawong: A long row of vendors line the street near Patpong Night Market. A variety of noodle dishes is their specialty. The Stewed Chicken Noodles in Herbal Soup offered by the vendors in front of the Wall Street Building is not to be missed. They are open until the small hours.
Pratunam: The two shops near the intersection are famous for chicken rice. One of the shops looks brighter and inviting, while the other serves authentic sauce with lots of ginger. They are also known for ‘Pork Satay with Peanut Sauce’.
China Town: The streets are filled with vendors by nightfall, offering an amazing variety of foods. The vendor at the corner of Soi Texas is famous for seafood. Another one down the street offers excellent ‘Egg Noodles with Barbequed Pork’. The adjacent vendor has the ultimate dessert – Black Sesame Seed Dumplings in Ginger Soup.
Food courts: Most of the malls and department stores in Bangkok have food courts. These combine the taste of street foods with clean, air-conditioned atmosphere. If you are wary of trying real street foods due to hygiene, this is the best alternative. Most of them display the picture of the dishes, which is helpful for the tourists. Some of the most popular food courts are at Central World, Central Chitlorn, Emporium, Siam Paragon and MBK.
As Thais are ardent food-lovers, good restaurants are seen everywhere in Bangkok. Due to the influx of tourists, restaurants here serve varieties of cuisine to suit different palates. No tourist coming to Bangkok will go hungry for want of food. Super-luxury restaurants to roadside eateries can be found here. All types of restaurants including rooftop restaurants, floating restaurant are there.
A list of restaurants according to the cuisine they serve is given here.
• Thai Restaurants
• International Restaurants
• French Restaurants
• Chinese Restaurants
• Italian Restaurants
• German Restaurants
• Japanese Restaurants
• Isaan / Lao Restaurants
• Vietnamese Restaurants