Classic Thai food to try in Phuket
Thai food is popular and famous all around the world and it 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 incredibly 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 around the world, many know about it, and about everybody loves it. Tom Yam is a hot soup coming in many versions, with prawns or mixed seafood, red or clear. Using many herbs such as lemongrass, galangal, kafir lime leaves, lime and lots of chillies. It is spicy and sour, with a unique personality and a delicious taste. Once you tried, you will never forget. Read more!
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 in night markets streets (where tourists hang out) it’s an excellent introduction to Thai food as it is not spicy at all. Fried white noodles with prawns and omelette, often served with crunched peanuts, soybeans, lime, herbs and, a good spoonful of sugar! Read about the Pad Thai Shop in Karon
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 shrimps (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 is proof 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)
A very traditional dish you can also find easily 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. Read more
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 they 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 is not suitable for a diet! There are 2 famous chicken rice restaurants in Phuket, one in Phuket Town calls 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, 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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