Tom Yam Goong Soup

Forget Pad Thai! 5 Must Try Thai Eats

Sure, pad thai is a staple dish of Thailand. And, yes, perhaps it is the most well-known Thai dish outside of the country, too. But … when visiting Thailand, a delicious abundance of options lie in wait, ready to treat those taste buds to never-before-tried flavor combinations.

While the cuisine differs from the north to the south, we’ve put together a list of 5 must try Thai dishes from all over the country. Let us know which is your favorite!

Must Try Thai 1: Khao Soy

Must Try Thai 1: Khao soy

Photo via Flickr Creative Commons: Prince Roy

This soup hails from the north of the country and is one of the most popular dishes for good reason: the combination of sweet and spicy is pure heaven. The base of the soup is coconut milk and curry and filled with egg noodles and veggies, and topped with more friend noodles.

Khao Soy can be a vegetarian dish or a meat dish and often comes with a leg of chicken or sliced pork directly in the bowl.

Often times, some of the staples of the dish — pickled cabbage, shallots, chopped red onions, lime and ground roast chilies — come on the side. Our piece of advice to you: squeeze the juice from the lime over the soup and then go ahead and empty out that side dish straight into the soup. Immediately. For those who prefer a less spicy option, leave the ground chilies behind.

Must Try Thai 2: Som Tam

Also known as papaya salad, Som Tam can be found just about anywhere in the country. This popular dish can be served as an appetizer or main course and varies slightly based on the chef. Pounded in a mortar, this dish mixes in green papaya (so it is more tangy than sweet), sour limes, garlic, tomatoes, peanuts, chilies, fish sauce and some palm sugar, often times with some dried shrimp tossed in.

It is a light, raw dish but also filling. Be careful though — Som Tam can be served seriously spicy, so ask for it to be prepared pet nit noi if spice isn’t your thing.

Must Try Thai 3: Sai Ua

Sausage and meats-on-a-stick are hugely popular in the country and can be found in stand-alone food stalls or at restaurants. In northern Thailand, the one of the most popular forms of sausage is the Sai Ua, which means “intestine to stuff.”

These grilled  sausages are filled with minced pork meat, herbs and specs, plus a red curry paste to add even more flavor to every bite. The sausage is often served alongside sticky rice. And while it may be a northern delicacy, don’t worry — Sai Ua can be found throughout the country these days. It is that popular.

Must Try Thai 4: Tom Yam Goong

Must Try Thai 4: Tom Yam Goong Soup

Photo via Flickr Creative Commons: amrufm

This hot and sour soup combines lots of ingredients to create a fragrant and delicious dish. Tom Yam Goong is made with lemongrass, kafir lime leaves, lime juice, fish sauce, galangal and chili peppers. Then, mushrooms (oyster or straw) are tossed in, along with shrimp to create this spicy and delicious offering. The lemongrass and aromatic herbs and spices make this the perfect soup to slurp on an off day while traveling.

Must Try Thai 5: Gaeng Kheaw Wan Gai

Also known as green curry, gaeng khaew wan gai is sweeter than the other curry counterparts found in the country. Made with coconut milk, chili paste, sugar and fish sauce, create a super spicy, sweet and utterly unique meal. It is packed with chicken, green aubergine and kafir lime leaves to finish it off. Dish it out over steamed rice or noodles to really fill up on this popular Thai dish.

Other Thai delicacies

While this list only covers five of our favorites, an entire world of Thai dishes awaits! Simply head out and hit up the local food stalls to try something different. We’re fans of the rice soup for breakfast, red curry as a lunch or dinner option and the literal ice cream sandwiches (think scoops of ice cream served between two pieces of bread and topped with condensed milk). Then, wash it all down with some iced Thai tea.

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