Food of Thailand

CONTENTS

Thailand is a Food Lover’s Paradise

Half the fun of vacationing far from home is not having to cook for yourself and eating foods that you can’t get at home. While most of us aren’t too far from Thai food at home there’s absolutely no comparison to eating it onsite with fresh and tasty local ingredients. Seafood caught that very morning? Greens and herbs from the onsite garden or grown and bought locally? Fruit from trees right outside the door? You can’t find that at your neighbourhood restaurant. Thailand was, and always has been, farm to table long before it was a trendy hashtag!

Thai cuisine goes far beyond the Pad Thai and creamy curry dishes it’s so well known for. Did you know there are 6 two MICHELIN Stars and 26 one MICHELIN Star restaurants in Thailand? You don’t have to go to Paris for gourmet food to eat on vacation! Plan for amazing street food, yes, but plan to dine out in style for dinner a night or two as well. Be adventurous because we know you’re going to taste flavor combinations that will surprise and delight you!

phuket food

Imagine eating here: 

R-Haan | Two MICHELIN Stars | Bangkok | Newly Promoted

Inspired by an old Thai poem “Nai Nam Mi Pla Nai Na Mi Khao” (In the river, there are fish; In the rice field, there is rice) R-Haan aims to reflect the way in which food has influenced Thai people and culture. Relax in the lounge with a cocktail before entering the main dining room, or book the private room for up to 20 guests. Food is authentically Thai, offering both regional and Royal Thai cuisine, using ingredients from all over the country.” ~ 2020 MICHELIN Guide

Not in Bangkok this trip? No problem! Phuket Island has your MICHELIN goals covered with this magical kitchen which by the way works in true farm and sea to table fashion: 

Pru | One MICHELIN Star | Phuket

Tucked inside a luxury resort in Phuket, PRU stands for ‘plant, raise, understand’, and it is this ethos that underpins every aspect of this sophisticated, intimate and romantic restaurant, a stone’s throw from the sea. Many ingredients are sourced from their own 96-hectare organic farm; even the butter is made in-house with milk sourced from Krabi. Dishes are delicate and neatly presented; ‘carrots cooked in soil’ is a signature dish.” ~ 2020 MICHELIN Guide

phuket food market

What Kinds of Foods Are Available in Thai Cuisine?

One of the best things about Thai food is that everyone can get something safe to eat. Food allergies, gluten or grain sensitivities, lactose intolerance, low carb, vegetarian, and even vegan eaters can find a variety of options to indulge in eating. Thailand makes traveling and eating with family or a wedding party so much easier!

The variety of tastes in Thai food such as sweet, salty, spicy, bitter, or sour is unique. A wide variety of noodles, vegetables, lettuce, seafood, rice, and meats mean everyone in your group can find something delicious.

Speaking of rice, there are a lot of rice dishes, it’s a staple in the Thai diet. So important is rice in Thai cuisine that the words for “food” and “rice” mean the same thing. Most meals will come with regular white rice or even more delicious; sticky white rice. Rice can easily be ordered with meat or vegetables so vegetarians and vegans are in luck while traveling Thailand and if you’re keto or low-carb just leave it off and eat more meat and veg! If you’ve ever eaten sushi you’ve had sticky rice so don’t be afraid to dive right into that natural sweetness and chewy texture!

Most of the Westernized world now eats a diet heavily skewed toward sweetness and salt. We lack variety and this variety is what makes Thai food so crave-able. This lack of variety leads to food cravings and we unconsciously eat more looking for those complex tastes. We need those sour, bitter, and spicy flavors in our everyday diet! While you’re in Thailand you’re going to get all that and more. 

How does a dinner of steamed sea bass topped with lemongrass, lime, garlic and chilli followed by a fresh lemongrass-infused soft crème Brulee sound? Or maybe you’d like a refreshing bowl of Tom Yam Gung (hot and sour) soup and Pad Thai? What about snackables made from the freshest seafood such as spiced and salted shrimps or delicious fried snapper with mango chunks? We bet you’ll notice those explosions of flavor variety in every bite of these dishes! 

In the Mood for Street Food?

For delicious food, you can get just about anywhere without sacrificing any freshness, quality, or taking any huge hits to your wallet look no further than the dazzling array of Thai street food vendors. 

You could start your street food adventure with Som Tam which is a very popular salad dish. The foundation is usually tomatoes, carrots, peanuts, green papaya, dried shrimp string beans. Then add sugar, garlic, aged fish sauce, fresh lime juice, and a load of hot chillies. These are lightly ground together and served topped with mung bean sprouts. By the way, the chillies pack a real punch so remember to as for it to be made “mai pet” which means not spicy. 

Want something familiar but also new and unique? Stop and grab some Kai Jeow. This is a budget-friendly Thai omelette served with rice. The crispy golden fried outside gives way to a soft fluffy flavorful interior that will make you even happier you chose to vacation here. You can get this with fish sauce and chillies and again you may want to ask about the heat level when you order. Vegetarians can ask the fish sauce to be left off.  It can be eaten any time of day, but many Westerners enjoy it for breakfast.

You can wrap up any meal with the dessert Kluay Tod which are deep-fried mini-bananas. These fried bananas are typically prepared battered in dried coconut and sesame seeds and delivered to you hot, slightly crunchy, luxuriously creamy, and golden brown. These are guaranteed to soothe even the crankiest kids!

Whether dining room or on the street you really can’t go wrong with food in Thailand. 

phuket food market

What’s the Best Way to Eat Thailand’s Excellent Food? Slowly!

When is the last time you really slowed down and thoroughly enjoyed a meal? Too often we’re eating quickly and rushing to get to the next thing on the list but hey, you’re on vacation! Pro Travel Tip: Did you know you’ll eat less if you take the time to treat your meals as sacred and sensory? Sensory pleasure while eating peaks after a few bites.

After those, we don’t taste as many flavors!  When we take time to really enjoy every bite we naturally eat less and we experience a higher degree of that happy belly satisfaction. Thailand is a wonderful place to practice this kind of mindful eating as the food is undeniably fresh, well-cooked, artfully presented, and includes the bitter, sour, astringent, and spicy flavors our bodies actually crave. Take a bite, close your eyes, and make your meal a meditation. Remember to put your cell phone on silent, well, ok we guess you can post that photo to your Instagram first but after that, enjoy!

One other thing to know is that your food will likely come with a spoon and fork. The food often is a brilliant blend of vegetables, herbs, and meats with rice. All those little bits are tricky to get onto your spoon so Thai people use the fork in the left hand to push food into the spoon held in the right hand for easy eating and to be sure and get every last blissful drop! For noodle dishes, you might be offered, or can request chopsticks.

An interesting bit of history is that chopsticks come from Chinese influences and cutlery from Spain and eating with hands from India. Prior to all of these people ate with their hands or from small bowls, and communal meals might be a big pile of rice in the middle of the table surrounded by smaller dishes of meats and vegetables so that each person could make up their own mix. Do you like eating with your hands when you get the chance?

phuket prawns

Enjoy All the Aspects of Your Trip Especially the Food!

We bet you’re travelling to Thailand to see the amazing sights and maybe scuba diving in Phuket. Maybe a visit to one of the many islands is scheduled like the amazing Similan Islands? Certainly, we hope you’re spending time with Thailand Divers for an underwater adventure and we hope we’ve sparked your curiosity about exploring Thailand’s incredible food scene too while you’re here!