Thailand has an abundance of savory food to choose from. Once you’ve had some of this food, you might even forget that Pad Thai even exists. That’s how delicious these 23 Thai dishes are.
FYI* most of the food has sweet, savory, sour, and spicy elements to it. They use a mixture of coconut milk, palm sugar, chili peppers, fish sauce, peanuts, and other herbs. If you have a problem/allergy with any of these, tell the chef.
Google translate is your bff.
Also, not all Thai food is created equal. In certain regions certain dishes will be better—typically the region the food comes from.
Even as a vegetarian, the Thai fried chicken smells and looks good. I’ve talked to plenty of people and they can attest to the savoriness of the fried chicken.
Every market you go to will have some for about 20 baht (less than $1). And they’ll also have an orange dipping sauce to go with it. Arroy mak mak (very delicious).
Tod Man Khao Pod (Corn fritters)
One of my favorite snacks. A fluffy corn fritter paired with a sweet chili dipping sauce, makes the perfect snack for vegetarians/vegan. To make sure that it’s dairy or egg free, you can ask “jay?” (vegan).
My go-to Thai vegan restaurant in Chiang Mai—V Secrets has the best in town.
Tom Yum soup
Bursting with flavors of lemongrass, kaffir lime, chili peppers, lime and more. This hot and sour soup is one of the most popular soups and Thai dishes. Makes for a fulfilling appetizer or if you want a lighter meal.
It’ll clear up your sinuses, unstuff your nose, and have you sweating out your toxins. If spice isn’t your thing, Tom Yum isn’t for you.
It’s traditionally made with shrimp, but you can also get it vegan.
Som Tam (Papaya salad)
This is the spiciest Thai dish I’ve ever had. Even if you ask them to hold the spice, chances you’re still going to taste the heat because of the Mortal and pestle they use.
If you are a vegan or don’t like fish, be mindful that this contains fish sauce and sometimes little shrimp.
Other than that, it’s one of the healthier Thai foods.
Papaya salad is made from shredded up green papayas, herbs and seasonings, fish sauce, sometimes small dried shrimp, and it has a sweet + sour taste to it.
Pad Pak Boong (Morning glory)
This isn’t the morning glory you’re thinking of, this comes from a flower and is also known as water spinach.
Whenever I want my fix of veggies in Thailand—morning glory is my choice. This leafy green vegetable is stir-fried in soy sauce, oyster sauce, spices, and more.
Sort of reminds me of spinach but tastier.
Laab (Meat salad)
A meat salad with minced pork or chicken, herbs, and fish sauce. It’s normally an appetizer, but you could also eat it for a light lunch.
If you are someone who doesn’t eat meat, you’ll have to go to a Thai vegan restaurant to try it.
Kai Jeow (omelette with rice)
You can eat this for breakfast, or really any meal throughout the day. It’s nice, light, and pretty tasty.
As someone who does not eat meat, but eats eggs, I enjoy finding this at food stalls for 20-30 bah ($1 max).
Sometimes they include pork (moo)—but you can always tell them “Jay” or “Mai Oww Moo” (I don’t want Pork).
Khao Pad Jay or Gai (Thai fried rice)
*Gai sometimes spelled Kai means chicken, goong is shrimp, and jay is veggie.*
How can something so simple be so tasty?
Thai fried rice is the best fried rice hands down. Maybe because I don’t care for peas in my fried rice, but I’m sure it’s how they add sweet, sour, and savory touches to this dish.
You’ll see different variations. Sometimes they add corn, carrots, tomatoes, and/or peas. But traditionally it has onions, eggs, meat, and Chinese broccoli.
Khao Soi (egg noodle curry)
If you don’t try any other new Thai dishes, this needs to be the exception! Best dish hands down.
Khao Soi is a northern Thai Dish, that is a curry served with egg noodles, and more commonly with a chicken leg. You can get it with tofu, shrimp, or whatever meat you want.
Topped with fried noodles, you can add pickled greens, red onions, and squeeze a little lime in there.
If you’re allergic to eggs or are vegan, you can try it with a different noodle, but it won’t be as good. Unless you go to a vegan restaurant that has a similar eggless version.
You can find Khao Soi in different cities, but it tastes best in Chiang Mai, Pai, or Chiang Rai—so keep this in mind. It’s a northern (Lanna) Thai dish.
Kaeng Kari (Yellow curry)
If spice isn’t for you, yellow curry might be. Out of all the curries, Yellow is the one with the least spice.
Yellow curry has a savory + creamy taste to it, and it’s typically served with chicken. But you can substitute it for any other meats or tofu if you like.
It’s not as common as the Thai Dishes or curries, but it’s just as delicious.
Kaeng Phet (Red curry)
My mouth is watering just thinking about red curry. Mmmmmmm.
Made from a red curry paste that consists of chilies, lemongrass, lime, shallots, galangal, shrimp paste. Then of course they add coconut milk to give it more depth with your choice of meat or tofu.
Whoever created red curry, I just want to thank God for them. It’s such a masterpiece.
Just remember most Thai dishes can be made vegan, but more times than not it has fish or oyster sauce in it.
Gaeng Khiao Wan (Green Curry)
Green curry is one of my favorite curries. But I will say it has a lot more added to it than the other curries do.
Besides the green curry paste—which is like red, give or take a few ingredients—there are eggplants, pea eggplants (smaller version), chillies, basil, and more.
I’d say it’s one of the most flavorful curries.
Kaeng Matsaman (Massaman curry)
Yum yum yum!
Very similar to yellow curry, except this just has potatoes, meat, and sometimes carrots in it. If you’re looking for a filling and satisfying meal, then Massaman curry should be your go-to meal.
It originates from southern Thailand, so it’s tastiest in places like Krabi.
Creamy, tangy, and oh so delicious.
It’s similar in color to Red Curry, but doesn’t taste as spicy. They sometimes add peanut butter to this, so if you’re allergic, this a curry you’ll want to stay away from.
Panang originates from Malaysia, so it’ll be tastiest in southern Thailand.
Hoy Tod (Mussel Omelette)
Before I gave up seafood, I had the pleasure of trying this dish. And boy, was I blown away.
My sister ordered this at a random restaurant in Bangkok, I tried a piece and I was like “yep this is it.”
I haven’t seen this dish in northern Thailand, but you can definitely find it at a food stall in Bangkok.
Gai/Tofu Pad Med Mamuang (Chicken/tofu with cashew nuts)
If stir-fries are your thing, then you’ll certainly want to try this.
Chicken (or tofu) sauteed with red peppers, onions, chillies, green onions, spices + sauces, and cashews. And served with rice.
It tastes as good as it sounds.
Pad Kra Pow (Basil Stir Fry)
A simple, but tasty dish.
Normally it’s made with chicken, Thai holy basil, herbs, and fish sauce. Oh yeah, it’s spicy spicy. You can also get it made with tofu, or any other meat.
Pad See Ew (Stir Fry Noodle)
Made with a wide rice noodle, Chinese broccoli, herbs, and sauce. Probably one of the most mild Thai dishes, but of course you can make it spicier.
It’s similar to Pad Thai, but it’s not as savory or spicy. It’s a little sweeter, yet still delicious.
Probably not the roti you’re used to.
This is dough fried in buttery goodness, then top with sweet milk and sugar. You can also add fruit, an egg, or even cheese on the inside.
Lots of people will add bananas with nutella, but I prefer to keep it simple. Whatever choice you make, you can’t go wrong. Plus, it’s only about 20 baht ($0.60).
Khao Niao Mamuang (Mango with Sticky Rice)
I could eat mango with sticky rice every other day and would never grow tired of it. That’s how appetizing it is.
Sweet + coconutty glutinous rice (sticky rice), topped with ripe mango, covered with a coconut syrup. I don’t know how they do it, but this concoction is magical.
You’ve definitely got to try it, and it’s best in the Northern part of Thailand.
These little pancakes are made from coconut, sugar, and rice flour—with crispy edges. You’ll typically find these at markets or just food stalls on the streets.
You can eat them if you’re feeling hungry and want a snack. Or if you’re wanting something sweet and light for dessert.
The toppings are typically sweet corn, green onions, or pieces of taro.
Coconut ice cream
I’m sure you realize by now that coconut is a staple in Thai Dishes. So that means you have to try the coconut ice cream.
You’ll randomly catch the ice cream man pushing his cart with a tube full of coconut ice cream. Stop him and get some. Probably the best 20 baht you’ll spend on a hot day.
The cool thing is, it’s easy to find vegan versions of this too.
You can get it with bread and viola—an ice cream sandwich.
It’s a sweet, banana fritter like snack that’s easily found at street vendors. Even though it’s fried, it doesn’t feel like a heavy dessert.
This Is also another dessert that can be eaten as a snack. Try some when you’re in Thailand, you’ll enjoy it more than you know.
Have you tried any of these Thai dishes? And which one sounds the tastiest to you? Comment below.