One of the best things about Thai food is that it’s cheap. Some dishes go for as low as THB 20. My sister and I ate in food courts, on the streets and in hotel and no matter where we would go, the food was inexpensive and satisfying. Here are some of the food items we couldn’t get enough of and where you can find them.
It’s impossible for one to go to Thailand and not have Pad Thai. Pad Thai is the Thai version of pancit and it is delicious. From the peanut sauce to the shrimp (while there is chicken pad thai, we always chose seafood) to the delicious rice noodles, this dish was our go-to dish whenever we were starving from the shopping. (Bangkok is also known as a great shopping destination)
Most of the Pad Thai we ate would be from the mall food courts. While here in the Philippines food courts sell fastfood versions of the real thing (ex. Minute steak instead of real tbone steak) Thai food courts seem to be selling affordable but authentic cuisine, Thai or otherwise. We had Pad Thai from the Platinum Fashion Mall, Terminal 21 and Siam Center. All of them were under THB 100. My personal favorite would be the one from Platinum which was around THB60. It was the least frilly, but seemed to be the most balanced of the three in terms of tanginess and sweetness. While the one in Siam had the nicest presentation, it was a little too fishy for my taste and the one from Terminal 21 was good as well, only the Platinum Pad Thai was better. 🙂
Normally the food courts in Thai malls would have condiments as well as fresh bean sprouts and basil laid out. I think it’s great that the diners don’t abuse the system and take more than what they need 🙂
Thailand has both “dirty” icecream and the commercial brands we’re used to seeing such as Dairy Queen and Magnum. The Thais however have come up with ways to twist the tastes of both commercial and local icecream.
While we were in the malls, we tried out both Magnum Café and Dairy Queen. Magnum Café was truly a different kind of icecream experience. The restaurant offered main courses but we visited only for the icecream. What we ordered didn’t taste spectacular– just like ordinary vanilla icecream, but the experience was lovely.
I enjoyed Dairy Queen more because it was inexpensive and good. Their sundaes were served with chopped almonds and they have exotic flavors for their blizzards such as matcha and mango sticky rice. It was a quality experience– the icecream was good and it was fun exploring new flavors through a familiar chain.
Before leaving Bangkok, it’s a must to try the coconut icecream. I’ll be honest in saying that it wasn’t easy to find. If you found it in the mall, it’s probably not the insanely good icecream I’m talking about. We found this food-gasm worthy dessert in the Chatuchak weekend market. I believe it’s made out of coconut milk (like the dirty icecream here in Manila) and is served on half of a young coconut (with some meat left on it.) It took us awhile to find it, but it was definitely worth the walk!
Bangkok has to be one of the best places to get street food. Outside the first hotel we stayed in, Baiyoke Skye, was Pratunam Market which is a great place to shop for clothes by day and for food by night. For dinner on our first night was grilled fish, shrimp and squid. The fish was perfectly cooked and the lady who sold it to us was so nice (no English though) and the shrimp and squid vendor was grilling right across her. All in all, we paid under THB 300 for dinner and we were so full!
That night we also had some Mango with Sticky Rice– one of Thailand’s most talked about foods. We spent THB 60 and the vendor didn’t touch the food with his bare hands. If you have a weak stomach though, I wouldn’t recommend having too much street food since it is exposed to outside air 🙂
Another thing you can’t miss (especially if you’re a fan of spicy food) would be tom yum, which is the Thai version of Sinigang. Spicy chili soup flavored with coconut milk and lemongrass is sour and delicious. We tried this orange soup from many places (but I only have pictures from the food court of Terminal 21) It’s a dish with very strong flavors, so it’s not for the faint-hearted. It might mess with weak stomachs, but it’s surely a dish you don’t want to forget about in Thailand. It’s traditionally served with shrimp, but other places offer a chicken or seafood alternative.
The Platinum food court also houses a braised beef soup food stall. It was there when we visited Thailand in 2010 and still was still in the same location last June. The meat is tender and the broth is extremely flavorful since the beef is boiled slowly. Top it with some fresh bean sprouts that you can find next to the booth. This dish starts at THB 55. Look for it in Platinum! (No photography was allowed and we weren’t able to get the name of the stall– when facing the long line of stalls, go towards the far left 🙂 )
In the Terminal 21 food court lies a soup stall that sells some braised duck and noodle soup. Since my mom ordered this, I’m not sure what the stall is called, but the soup was so good! The duck was tender and the soup was slightly sweet.
Some drinks not to miss would be Thai Iced Tea, Thai Milk Tea and Young Coconut Juice. The Thai Iced Tea and Milk Tea can be found in mall food courts. One can buy a large drink (around 22 oz) for THB 30. Thai milk tea is almost orange in color and has caramel notes. It’s very creamy and what I would think Thai Milk Tea ice cream would taste like. The Thai Iced Tea is a lot like our iced tea but with a sweeter flavor. It does a great job in neutralizing spicy Thai dishes. Lastly would be young coconut juice. It’s a great way to quench your thirst while walking around the market. It’s sweeter than the buko juice we have here and the meat is nice and tender. This goes for around THB 35
While some people would think that ordering room service is silly when touring a foreign country, but sometimes, you just wanna stay in and relax. The food from Baiyoke Sky was affordable and delicious. The Thai green curry was nicely spicy and had tender chunks of chicken. We spent around THB 200 on that. The food from the Peninsula Bangkok was spectacular. When you’re there, make sure to order the shrimp cakes (even if this is the only dish you order from here) The shrimp was fresh and the breading was perfectly crisp. The pad thai was a little bland, but good as well.
A FEW TIPS:
2. Not many Thai people speak a lot of English, but many of them are very nice. To ask for the price of something you can simply say “How much?” 🙂
3. The food courts are a great place to get authentic and inexpensive Thai food as well as snacks in between shopping.
4. If you’re adventurous, try shopping in the Pratunam market instead of the Platinum Fashion Mall. It’s not as comfortable since there’s no airconditioning or bathroom but the bargains are well worth it! Make sure you bring a small bag that you can keep close to your body because the crowd is big and the space is small.
5. Familiarize yourself with the train system. While the train system in Bangkok is more expensive than in the Philippines, it’s a great way to get from place to place. My favorite way to get around was the train because the prices are fixed (unlike taxis) and you get to your destination quickly and comfortably (since you get to avoid the traffic)
6. Haggle! In markets and Platinum mall, it’s easy to haggle down the prices. This cannot be done, however, in department stores.
7. Dress comfortably and modestly. Comfortably enough for the intense heat (I think it’s hotter than the Philippines) and modestly enough for the temples that you might decide to visit.
What are your favorite places in Thailand? Do you have any tips or food places to share? If so, leave a comment below! 😀