Following is a brief guide to buying street food in Thailand, as well as ordering food from the local neighborhood eatery — the Thai Way.
When you find yourself hungry in Thailand but don’t have a lot of money to spend, and want to pay less than 100 baht for a delightful and filling meal, Thai street food is where it’s at.
In the city of Bangkok, it’s hard to walk 5 minutes in a single direction without coming across some form of street food, often served from mobile street stalls that somewhat resemble food kiosks back in the west.
The next level up from the stalls are neighborhood eateries [Rawn Ahaan Dtaam Sung = ร้านอาหารตามสั่ง, literally the made-to-order eatery] which are typically a better bet if you’re concerned about hygienic and food freshness.
Usually it’s pretty easy to decipher what’s being offered just by looking at the food on show or in the menu, and most of the time you can get by with pointing and indicating the desired quantity by using your fingers.
If you’re Thai numbers are still lacking, most likely there is a calculator if not someone nearby more than willing to assist in the negotiating process in English. And most menus post the price plain to see anyhow.
That said, it’s a good idea to know some Thai. Here’s a crash-course for newbies:
- Pork = Moo หมู
- Chicken = Guy ไก่
- Beef = Neuah เนื้อ
- Fish = Bpla ปลา
- Shrimp = Goong กุ้ง
- Squid = Bpla Muek ปลามึก
- Vegetables = Puck ผัก
- Spicy = Pet เผ็ด
- Not Spicy = Mai Pet ไม่เผ็ด
- Hot = Rawn ร้อน
- Cool / Cold = Yen เย็น
- A lot = Maak มาก
- A little = Nit Noi
- Special [serving] = Piset พิเศษ
- Fried = Putt ผัด
- Grilled = Yung ย่าง
- Want = Ao เอา
- Don’t want = Mai Ao ไม่เอา
If there is a line, prepare to wait; the basic rule that most seem to follow is first come first serve. Patients may be required at times, particularly during mass-feasting hours in the mornings, noonish and evenings.
The average price of street side food depends ranges from 30 to 50 baht per serving places such as Bangkok and Phuket and slightly cheaper in other cities with a lower cost of living, such as in the North and Northeast.