10 Hardcore Thai Food, Only for the Brave!

10 Hardcore Thai Food, Only for the Brave!
10 Hardcore Thai Food, Only for the Brave!
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10 Hardcore Thai Food, Only for the Brave!

We had ‘10 Typical Phuket Dishes‘ and ‘10 Best Really Local Restaurants‘, and even ‘10 Fried Insects for Gourmets‘ now we need to move on to serious susiness: ’10 Hardcore Thai Food, only for the Brave’… Will you dare?

I will skip insects and focus on real dishes Thai people cook daily and really enjoy. After 22 years in Phuket I still can’t eat several of them, but I can tell when someone had some for lunch! Some look weird, some smell really bad, some taste terrible and some get all of it.Be daring! Try some of them when you visit! From the ‘Toughest’ to the ‘Less scary’ I give you the ’10 Hardcore Thai Dishes’ you have to try to say you have ‘Really Been in Thailand’


1 – Phad Sato – ผัดสะตอ

Sato is a local big seed smelling like cooking gas and growing inside a huge pod at the top of tall trees. Fried in shrimp paste and garlic, chili, fish sauce and lime.

  • Aspect: Appetizing
  • Smell Level: Strong and lasting
  • Taste Level: Fainting


2 – Kaeng Tai Pla – แกงไตปลา

The name means fish kidneys soup but in fact, it’s made with fish guts in general… add carrots, green beans and fak (don’t laugh, that’s a Thai veggie! a kind of gourd), turmeric and shrimp paste.

  • Aspect: Normal
  • Smell Level : Very Strong
  • Taste Level: Fainting


3 – Kaeng Som – แกงส้ม

A fish soup best when done with a home made shrimp paste using garlic, galangal, lemongrass lots of chili, turmeric roots, plenty of local herbs, shallots, dry fish and curry paste. Put everything in a mortar and reduce to a pulp, which takes hours.

  • Aspect: Weird
  • Smell Level: Very Strong
  • Taste Level: Fainting


4 – Soup No Mai – ซุปหน่อไม้

Boiled bamboo shoots salad north-eastern style (Isan) with mint leaves, shallots, ya-nang leaves and crunchy rice bits! On the good side: it has very little calories, great for diet! (if you can eat it)

  • Aspect: Strange
  • Smell Level: Stranger…
  • Taste Level: …Strangest


5 – Tam Sua – ตำซั่ว

Tam Sua means ‘Whatever goes’: Small rice noodles, shredded raw papaya, some kind of pickles, raw bean sprouts, chili, fermented fish and salted fermented black crab.

  • Aspect: Weird (black crab legs look like spider).
  • Smell Level: Strong to Stinky
  • Taste Level: Very Strong


6 – Yum Kai Mang Da – ยำไข่แมงดา

A really unusual dish made with the eggs of a horse shoe crab (Mang Da Talay) that resembles a prehistoric crawly, mixed with grated green mango, chili, and lime. Read more

  • Aspect: Scary to repulsive
  • Smell Level: Light
  • Taste Level: Light to ‘Very Fishy’


7 – Lo Ba – โลบะ

Deep fried Pork giblets: intestines, ears and fat belly, pork skin, well you get the picture: all the least appetizing parts of the pork, served with sweet brown sauce.

  • Aspect: Not appetizing
  • Smell Level: Eeeeeeew!
  • Taste Level: Strong


8 – Nom Vou Yang – นมวัวย่าง

‘Nom Vou’ is a simple dish made with cow’s breasts, or tits, or whatever you want to call it. It’s very rubbery and gives you the impression of chewing on your mom’s breast… awkward.

  • Aspect: Oh my
  • Smell Level: Acceptable
  • Taste Level: Taste is ok, but consistency gave me goosebumps.


9 – Nam Prik – น้ำพริก

A pungent violet shrimp paste with chili dip, served with uncooked strange green vegetables: green beans, raw wing beans, raw eggplants, raw cabbage.

  • Aspect: Well presented and nice looking
  • Smell Level: Paste smells very fishy
  • Taste Level: Strong and veggies are bitter.


10 – Duck Feet – ตีนเป็ด

Supposed to be great for your skin with the large amount of collagen contained, it’s half way between chewy, cartilaginous and a bit slimy too. For the rest, well… look at the photo.

  • Aspect: Very Weird
  • Smell Level: Good
  • Taste Level: Light

Read also about ‘10 Great Seafood Restaurants in Phuket‘, and if once you feel ready for something more ethnic, go to ‘10 Best Really Local Restaurants‘ , ‘10 Classic Thai Food for Beginners

Written by

Born in France a long long time ago, I started to travel the world in my 20s and never stopped until I finally settled in Thailand in 1994. Then for the past 22 years, my passion for photography and my natural curiosity has taken me to every corner of Thailand, jumping frequently between Bangkok and Phuket and basically everywhere I could go. I now manage 30 online travel guides in Asia and beyond, including Phuket.com, Bangkok.com and Bali-Indonesia.com