Last Updated on April 19, 2021 by Dani
When we started planning our time in Thailand, the only thing we heard about more than beautiful beaches was the food, specifically the street food: fruit smoothies, sliced fruits, sweets, noodles and, yes, insects!
We’re known to love street food, and after months in North America without it (no, food trucks and pizza slices don’t quite count), this almost mythical street food in Thailand was calling. As soon as we touched down in Bangkok, we set off to find some of the Thai delicacies that people were raving about.
Follow your nose
Seeing these two ladies pushing their carts in Bangkok’s traffic, we knew they were going to set up their stalls somewhere and decided to just follow them… if there are two, there must be more!
It turns out, we were right. Throughout our time in Thailand we never had any trouble finding a night market, a day market or a walking market to test out Thai street food.
Pad Thai for 30 Baht ($1) – score!
Jess discovered these steamed Chinese buns filled with red bean paste and had to eat them every time…
Glorious Tropical Fruits
Most stands don’t specialize only in mangoes, though. There’s papaya, pineapple, dragon fruit and mixed fruits…
…and we love our daily dose of fresh squeezed orange juice, for only 20 Baht ($0.60)!
So…what do we have here?
We pass food stand after food stand of vegetable dishes, and meat, served with either rice or noodles. Sometimes, it’s hard to identify what things are…
These mini toasts looked delicious, but with the meat on top this wasn’t for us. In fact, we realize that much of the street food out there isn’t for vegetarians…
Loads of meat on a stick…Nope, not for us…
Not sure what this is supposed to be when it’s ready…
But then we discover this genius invention. Chips on a stick. Yep. This deep fried goodness might not be the healthiest snack, but it.is.so.good and well worth the 20 Baht ($0.60).
Like anywhere in the world, in Thailand much of street food is deep fried: vegetables, fish, potatoes and even bread.
But these markets don’t just have snacks. Full noodle dishes are usually available for $1 or less, such as this Pad See Ew (far left in the picture above), served with vegetables and sometimes egg. This is one of our favorite Thai dishes.
Another popular snack are omelets grilled in a banana leaf. Usually there is one more ingredient added, such as mushrooms or shrimps.
Another egg snack: a sort of grilled hard-boiled eggs in a chili sauce. I like these, Jess can’t stomach them at all!
Neither of us can make ourselves eat these eggs above. These tiny little eggs are quail eggs. It’s hard to explain why we’ll eat chicken eggs but no other bird eggs, but even the 10 Baht ($0.30) price tag can’t get us to nibble on these popular bite-size eggs.
Even more popular are fried silk worms, but we definitely didn’t eat these!
… or these guys – whatever they are!
Initially we wanted to sample what we thought was tofu on a stick…until we found out that these are made of pork.
Same with these little banana leaf parcels – looks vegetarian from the outside, but it’s filled with pork.
Finally something we can eat – these little parcels were indeed vegetarian, filled with sticky rice.
More sticky rice: grilled sticky rice ‘lollipops’…these we could eat, but they are not that good.
Much to our surprise, we discovered that sushi is a Thai street food favorite! While the quality of the sushi in the night markets is not always great, there are tons of varieties, including veggie ones like seaweed, avocado, tofu or egg.
Another popular snack is Mieng Kham, a little leaf parcel that combines Thailand’s four main flavors spicy, salty, sweet and sour. The leaf is filled with peanuts, honey, chili and lime (and shrimp fot the salty flavor in the non-veg version). Just these basic ingredients create a flavor explosion in your mouth! We came to love this snack in our cooking class in Koh Lanta, and we were always happy when we found Mieng Kham in the night markets.
Going Bananas for Sweets in the Streets!!
Let’s move on to sweets – my favorite part of a visit to a night market.
Thai people love their sweets, so there is a huge selection of foods to satisfy even my sweet tooth: cakes, crepes, fruit, rice pudding, pancakes. This list is really endless, especially if you like bananas, which are served up baked, fried, deep-fried, on a stick, inside a waffle, inside a pancake…
While the waffle bananas were delicious (obviously!), we weren’t big fans of the sticky rice with banana…
One of my favorite banana snacks: deep-fried and battered bananas, cut in little pieces and drizzled with sweet condensed milk. Yum!
It seems simple, but why not? These pieces of white toast are usually served with sweet spreads, jams, chocolate or fruit sauces.
We weren’t sold on the toast, but we do love these odd coconut cream taco concoctions you see everywhere!
While Jess can usually be found munching on those potato chips on a stick, I am hunting down my absolute favorite Thai sweet – these delicious crepes, freshly made, piping hot with the toppings of your choice.
Sure, there are plenty of meaty street food options, but the fact is that Thailand has the best street food we’ve come across, with a much bigger selection than in Central America or Mexico, our other two favorite places in the world to hunt down the best street food!