Thailand’s street food has been recognised as one of the world’s most famous street food destinations by many famous global polls and international news media. Popular among locals and visitors alike, it offers a cornucopia of Thai food that is as tasty as it is affordable.
Street food is also fundamental to gaining insights into local Thai culture as it represents everyday food. Moreover, many dishes common to street side connoisseurs can inspire chefs to elevate Thai cuisine to the heights of many MICHELIN-Starred Thai restaurants.
From my personal experience as an anonymous eater and a passionate food lover, these are five unique points that make Thai street food so impressive and uniquely different to street eats anywhere else in the world:
Options and even more options...
You can get everything from snacks and fruits to drinks and ready-to-eat meals. And then there’s quick made-to-order dishes, such as khao phad kaprao mu (spicy basil-fried minced pork with rice), the most famous staple dish among locals. Many places offer only one or two dishes, but others might offer a complete menu just like restaurants. Not only can you find authentic Thai food along the streetside, but also some international favourites, such as Chinese noodle soup, Western-style sandwiches, or even some Japanese sushi.
Thai street food is sold by hawkers or vendors at food stalls or food carts along the roads of every province in Thailand. Night markets are especially famous for evening meals or snacks. People can find food almost everywhere and anytime.
Rich in flavours
Most Thai street food offers true deliciousness balanced by intense flavours, plus it can be very fresh with a quick à la minute cooking to order in front of customers. Customers can enjoy a live cooking show with beautifully fresh, fragrant food served straight away.
Almost everything that is served in a restaurant can be found on the street at much more affordable prices. A single dish costs about 2 USD, whilst a full meal costs less than 4-5 USD. However, the level of ingredients may not be the same. But the flavours? They are undoubtedly delicious. You may not get wagyu beef with your street vendor’s boat noodles, but you’ll definitely be more than happy with its taste.
Friendly and approachable service
Thai street food is less formal than dining at a full-service restaurant, but the street food vendors always serve their customers in a very warm and friendly manner with welcoming smiles.
Another bonus are the amazing locations. Some are in the centre of popular destinations, such as Chinatown. Munching food by the road allows you to watch the bustling activities of local life as a beautiful backdrop to your meal. This is a charm that I’m very fond of when it comes to street food. It gives me almost the same feeling as having a fine cup of coffee at a café in a different corner of the world.
It has been a very challenging time for the F&B industry in Thailand over the past few years. Take-away and delivery might not suit every eatery, and it may not provide the same sensation as dining in restaurants or hotels.
Food and drink are not just for human survival, but they are part of life and happiness. I’m sure that everyone, like me, couldn’t wait to go back to their favourite places to enjoy their favourite dishes once again during the lockdowns.
Restaurants have played a necessary role in every society, including in Thailand. It does not only provide food and drink as part of human need, but it also can make historical and social connections for people. Many major events, personal and professional, are celebrated in restaurants, from birthday parties to marriage celebrations. Plus, it also creates business for both community and country.
My love affair with food started with my mother’s home cooking when I was a child. Her food is not fancy, but it is so simply delicious. After studying culinary arts and experiencing various cuisines, I became even more obsessed with food, beverages, and cooking because every cuisine has a different history and cultural foundation that always amazes me. Additionally, food trends are always changing from classic dishes to current elaborate gastronomy. All these reasons are why I am falling endlessly with food over and over.
Eating my favourite dishes or discovering delicious food in restaurants with different atmospheres also creates different experiences from dining at home or from a to-go box. Thoughtful restaurant service can inspire beautiful and unforgettable memories. I would miss not having a family meal around a big round table or gathering with friends at a long table for dinner. Everyone sharing and laughing as we enjoy delightful food served with a smile.
That is why we need restaurants. And, personally, I couldn’t wait to go back to dine in restaurants again and again...
Hero photo © Shutterstock