Travel5 Lesser-known Thai street foods you should try in Bangkok

5 Lesser-known Thai street foods you should try in Bangkok

Thai street foods are world-renowned. In Bangkok, tourists could find good foods to eat 24 hours a day. One could easily find “Pad Thai”, “Som Tum”, and “Tom Yum Kung” in the markets, or food stalls. However, there are other Thai street foods that are much lesser-known, but simply too delicious for tourists to miss.

The dollar currency in this article is the U.S. Dollar

Thai Omelet (Kao Kai Jeaw) By Ron Dollete, Flickr, CC By ND 2.0

1. Guay Jub

A variant of noodle soups, Guay Jub is extremely popular in Thailand. Vendors would roll a big flat noodle to create a Guay Jub noodle. The soup would be quite peppery in general. Thai people usually eat Guay Jub with crispy pork and pork entrails. If you do not want pork entrails, you should ask the vendors to replace them with crispy pork for free.

You can find cheap and delicious Guay Jub stalls or restaurants in several locations in the city. The price would be around 30-60 Baht ($1-$2) per bowl. One of the best you could find is Mister Joe. The restaurant is featured in Michelin’s Bib Gourmand list. Get off BTS at Saphan Taksin, then catch a Tuk-Tuk or Taxi, within 10-15 minutes, you would be at the restaurant.

Here is a Michelin guide about Mister Joe

2. Kanom Jean

Kanom Jean is another popular noodle variant. (Again? Yes, Thais eat a lot of noodles each year.) Unlike other noodle soups, the small Kanom Jean noodle would be eaten alongside curries such as green curry, or Numya curry. The later is very popular among the Thais.

Numya curry is made from fish or crabmeat. However, you would never see any recognizable piece of fish in the curry. This is because the fish would be sliced and minced along with other ingredients in the making process. Some vendors choose to add Fish meatballs into the curry as well.

You could easily find Kanom Jean restaurants to eat in Bangkok. Traditional southern-style Thai food booths or restaurants are all specialized in making Kanom Jeans. If you have a chance, I recommend you try all the curries they have.

However, many of them are extremely spicy. You might end up consuming more than a liter of cold water to cool your tongue. Thus, you should ask the vendor beforehand whether the curry is spicy.

The price of each plate of Kanom Jeans should not exceed 60 Baht ($2). Normally, the portion is too small for any person to be full after finishing the single plate. Foreigners, especially westerners, would have to eat 2-3 plates to fulfill their appetites.

If you eat Kanom Jean in the market or small open food stalls, it’s likely that you could get diarrhea. Almost every curry is made from coconut milk. Thus, after several hours in the open-air environment, each curry could go bad.

Eating these kinds of stuff would not be a great idea. Therefore, please choose a larger, and cleaner Kanom Jean stalls for the sake of your own health.

3. Leng

Leng is rising in popularity among Thais during recent years. Leng is a kind of pork bone soup. The soup is different from its Chinese counterparts because the soup is spicy and sour. You could literally see many Thai green chillis floating in the soup.

Thai people usually eat Leng with a cup of white rice. Leng’s spiciness and sourness are more than enough to refresh your body. Normally, the portion size is huge. Up to four people could enjoy one large bowl of Leng. You can order Leng at any Issan (Northeastern style) food booth or restaurant in Bangkok. However, many Thai casual restaurants serve Leng as well.

The price of each bowl of Leng could be at least 180 Baht ($6).

Though Leng is delicious, some foreigners might consider it too spicy. If that’s the case, avoid chewing those green chillis floating in Leng at all costs.

4. Moo Ping

Basically, Moo Ping is a Thai-style pork skewer. Tourists can find Moo Ping to eat nationwide, especially in the markets or food booths on the roadside. Vendors would marinate the pork for hours. Subsequently, each meat would be skewered. Vendors would later use a small charcoal grill to grill the meat.

If you do not eat pork, many Moo Ping booths sell chicken skewers as alternatives as well. Thais usually eat Moo Ping alongside sticky rice, so make sure you order one pack of it from the Moo Ping booth.

The price of Moo Ping varies. Each skewer could cost from 6 Baht to 20 Baht ($0.2 to $0.7), depending on the quality of the meat, and the location you buy them.

Formerly, many Moo Ping shops had their own recipes on how to make Moo Ping and its sauces. However, many of these recipes start to disappear after the emergence of “Fresh Milk Moo Ping” franchises. Former Moo Ping vendors abandoned their recipes and ordered from the franchiser instead.

This is probably because the franchiser’s Moo Ping takes less time to prepare, and provides higher profits per skewer for vendors. However, it is clear that the taste of this new Moo Ping is much inferior to the old ones. Many Thais now long for the old Moo Ping.

5. Kao Kai Jiew

Kao Kai Jiew is indeed the most basic Thai food. Kai Jiew is a Thai-style omelet, while Kao means “rice.” Kao Kai Jiew is, therefore, an omelet on top of white rice. Despite its simplicity, Kao Kai Jiew is immensely popular. Thais usually joke about eating Kao Kai Jiew and cup noodles at the end of the month because they overspent their salaries.

Thai-style omelet of Kai Jiew is crispy. Thais love to put several ingredients inside the eggs such as minced pork, scallions, onions, sausages, or bacon. The omelet is usually eaten with Thai-style chilli sauce. Vendors typically sell each Kao Kai Jiew made from 2 eggs for 25 Baht ($0.8). However, the price could increase slightly, if you add more ingredients.

The menu is easy to be made. Almost all Thais could make it at home. However, Kao Kai Jiew food stalls are still very popular. This is probably due to the fact that many people are too lazy to do so.

There are downsides of eating Kao Kai Jiew made by street food booths. Many of these omelets are too oily. The oil used to make Kai Jiew could be the old one that has been used several times. If you have health concerns, I suggest you avoid eating the food from Kao Kai Jiew stalls.

Final Thoughts and Tips

Above are types of delicious Thai Street foods. They are cheap and easy to find. I recommend you try every single dish in this post. However, some of the dishes are simply too spicy for foreigners. Make sure you understand this point as well.

In addition, Many stalls or restaurants in Thailand are not up to western hygiene standards. You can be sick by eating those foods. Thus, choosing a clean stall or restaurant is very important.

Pun Anansakunwat
Founder of Victory Tale, a multipotentialite who has a particular interest in technology. He loves to spend time testing new products and learning interesting topics to broaden his insights. After graduating from Columbia University in 2014, he makes a living by being a stock market investor, a private tutor, a writer of three published books, and finally a website owner.

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