I am not a foodie as such but I definitely love trying everything new. I swear I was this close to try one of the fried bugs that you see being sold everywhere around Thailand flea markets but then I recalled my travel insurance expires soon and needs to be renewed so I can try it when I have it again! Not saying that it would have harmed me because the bugs have a lot of protein (or everybody here says they do) but my Indian stomach may not go very well with the “Thai snacks” so I just wanted to be careful.
Having said that, I just can’t stop eating since I have arrived in Thailand. Back home, pork is a delicacy which we eat only once in a while and so is seafood (except fish) because except for the coastal areas, good quality sea food like shrimps, oysters, crabs and lobsters are rarely available and are unbelievably expensive. But in Thailand, pork dishes are available as if it’s nothing but just some fruit and don’t even get me started on the seafood (seafood is my favourite). Thus, in the last 10 days here, I have tried almost every common and famous dish that Thailand has to offer (except the bugs) and below is a list of all the dishes I tried and you must try to get a taste of Thailand’s local flavours.
Pad Thai – This is the most common dish which can be found everywhere in Thailand. You can buy a plate of Pad Thai for 30BHT at local markets or spent 200BHT eating the same at a nice and expensive restaurant. I have tried both and trust me it tasted the same! Pad Thai comprises of stir fried rice noodles mad with eggs, vegetables and shrimps and prawns. There are obviously different variants of the dish. For example, you can find omelette Pad Thai which is actually the same combination like above but wrapped in an omelette. Some also add chopped tofu along with bean sprouts, garlic chives and garlic sauce, fish sauce, coriander leaves, and garnished with lime wedges and chopped roasted peanuts. This has become one of my favourite dishes to be honest and I am sure even when you don’t know you are getting addicted to it, you actually do.
Thai Noodle Soup – This one has many variants as well. You can choose a soup with eggs and vegetables or with chicken or with pork if you like. Most small street food joints around Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and other parts of the country has this on their menu and so do the big and nice restaurants and diners.
Mango Sticky Rice – Sticky rice is really popular in the whole country and is easily available anywhere. Just like every other dish in Thailand, sticky rice can be coupled with a lot of things such as sausages and shrimp paste but Mango Sticky Rice is a heavenly dessert which anyone visiting Thailand MUST try unless you are allergic to mangoes or rice. It costs anywhere between 20BHT to 40BHT depending upon where you buy it from. But, I believe the best place to taste any Thai local food are the thousands of food stalls scattered around the country.
BBQ – I know it sounds strange but Thailand is quiet big on BBQs. I can’t count how many Japanese BBQs I came acros during my 3 day short stopover in Bangkok. On the contrary, Chiang Mai is big on Seafood BBQs – big tiger/king prawns, lobsters, fish, etc. The BBQs are a bit expensive but I guess everything feels expensive as compared to the amazingly delicious wide variety of street food in Thailand.
Rat Na – Also known as Rad na and mistakenly called as Lat Na very often, Rat Na is also a soup dish but it’s made of traditional Thai rice noodles with vegetables or meat. I don’t know how much it costs as I ate it at my school canteen but it is really popular too and yummy!
This is a small list for now. I will soon post about some of the best cafes and restaurants in Chiang Mai.
Updated: June 2, 2015