Classic Thai food to try in Phuket
Thai food is popular and famous worldwide and doesn’t need to be introduced anymore. If you reached this page, you probably already tried some and heard plenty about it. The list of great Thai dishes available in Thailand is vast, and each region has its specialities and personality.
But just in case you haven’t yet tried many, we introduce here Thai food you can try on your first trip to Thailand, just as a gentle way to start, but there are, of course, many, many more. Try them at Phuket’s best local restaurants.
Tom Yam is undoubtedly the best-known Thai food worldwide; many know about it, and everybody loves it. Tom Yam is a hot soup in many versions, with prawns or mixed seafood, red or clear. Use many herbs such as lemongrass, galangal, kafir lime leaves, and chillies. It is spicy and sour, with a unique personality and a delicious taste. Once you have tried, you will never forget.
2. Pad Thai
Pad Thai is a big favourite for most travellers visiting Thailand, but ironically not all that popular with Thai people! Often sold on night markets streets (where tourists hang out), it’s an excellent introduction to Thai food as it is not spicy. Fried white noodles with prawns and omelette, often served with crunched peanuts, soybeans, lime, herbs and a good spoonful of sugar!
3. Khao Pad Kai (or Moo, Koong)
Khao Pad is the most basic rice dish served almost anywhere in Thailand. You can order it with chicken (kai), porc (moo), or shrimp (Koong). It is served with a few slices of cucumber (always 3, for no known reason) and goes nicely with ‘plik nampla’, a strong fish sauce with small but powerful chillies. This proves that it takes talent to cook such a simple dish, and our favourite is Boon restaurant in Phuket Town.
4. Tom Kha Kai (or Tom Kha Gai)
Tom Kha Kai is another favourite soup using chicken, mushrooms, galangal, tomatoes and lemongrass cooked in coconut milk. Most of the time, it does contain any chilli, which makes this dish great for people who like something exotic but not spicy. Like most of the dishes on this page, you should be able to order Tom Ka in any restaurant around Phuket (and Thailand)
5. Geng Kheaw Wan Gai (Green Curry)
Green curry with chicken is a traditional Thai food found in many restaurants, and occasionally, it can be just a little spicy. It is cooked with two types of eggplants, some big round eggplants cut in quarters and some tiny round ones that treacherously look like green peas. These are known to help lowering cholesterol levels. Geng Kheaw Wan is served with steamed rice.
6. Krapow Moo, Nua or Kai (Fried Pork Basil)
You can also find a very traditional dish anywhere in Phuket and Thailand. Made with pork (moo), chicken (kai) or beef (Nua) cooked with holy basil leaves and chilli. Often topped with a fried egg and served with steamed rice, it is cheap and tasty but may come with a severe chilli punch. This is when this useful phrase comes in handy: “Mai Pet” (not spicy, please). Almost every restaurant in Phuket can cook it decently, but our favourite is in Phuket Town, is a tiny place called Boon’s Restaurant
7. Som Tam
Som Tam is another excellent Thai classic and a must-try if you are here to experience Thai culture, but it might be a little more daring! This grated and delicious green papaya salad is served from ‘spicy’ to ‘extremely spicy’. Som Tam Thai is the ‘normal version, but ‘Som Tam Poo Ma’ comes with pieces of raw blue crab and pungent fish sauce, often served in seaside restaurants. Som Tam is usually eaten with sticky rice or cold rice noodle (kanom jeen). Read more
8. Kuey Tiaow (Noodle Soup)
There are many variations of noodle soups in Thailand; it would take pages to describe half of them! There is a soup for every taste, from clear and light to dark and intense. Pick the noodle you like, the meat you want, eat in a shop or by the road; you can find great Kuey Tiaow almost everywhere, day or night.
9. Chicken Rice
Chicken rice is a very popular meal and not spicy at all unless you add one of the brown sauces available. Some shops are famous for it and are almost sold out in no time, so if you are a bit late, you might end up disappointed. It is served with specially prepared delicious rice and unsuitable for a diet! There are two famous chicken rice restaurants in Phuket, one in Phuket Town called Kota Khao Man Kai and one in Patong Beach called Briley Chichen Rice.
10. Massaman Curry
This southern dish is an excellent beef curry that tastes like a rich stew, cooked with onions, and potatoes and served with steamed rice. Massaman is a good choice if you can’t take spicy! Note that it contains peanuts, and cashew nuts (like many Thai dishes, actually)
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