Ten Tasty Thai Dishes You Must Try Before You Die

Thai food is some of the tastiest food in the world and it’s my firm belief everyone should be eating it daily. While that’s usually not an option for most of us unless we’re living in Thailand the Thai dishes below represent some of the best culinary treats that Thailand has to offer. So, the next time you find yourself in Thailand or at the local Thai restaurant forgo the usual and give one of these dishes a try at least once, your taste buds will thank you.

1. Tom Yum Goong (Spicy Shrimp Soup)
Tom Yum Goong

This could very well be the quintessential signature dish of Thailand. Made with a blend of Fragrant herbs and spices including galangal, lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, shallot, tamarind, chili pepper and fish sauce to add a little kick. Fresh prawns and mushrooms provide the balance to the dish to even it all out. It’s spicy and sour demeanor is a sensation for your soul and should never be passed up. Great as a starter but ad some rice and you have a meal fit for a King.

2. Pad Thai (Thai style Fried Noodles)
Pad Thai

The one Thai dish that needs no introduction. Handed down through history this dish is best known for it’s fresh ingredients and well balanced fundamental flavors. Fresh stir fried noodles with eggs, fish sauce, tamarind juice, red chili pepper, bean sprouts, shrimp and tofu garnished with crushed peanuts and coriander make this the classic Thai dish it is.

3. Gaeng Daeng (Red Curry)

Gaeng Daeng ( Thai Red Curry)

Rich and aromatic this Thai dish will add a little tingle to your tongue. Tender meat in a sea of smooth coconut milk tinged with red curry paste and topped off with kaffir lime leaves. This dish is probably milder than you think and definitely pleasing to the palate.

4. Kai Pad Med Mamuang Himaphan (Chicken with Cashew Nuts)
Kai Med Ma Muang (Chicken with Cashew Nuts)

This dish has a bit of an identity problem, seemingly too tame to be Thai. More Chinese than Thai,  due to it’s sweet and salty nature,  but it is truly a Thai dish and one that just melts in your mouth. Tender chunks of chicken surrounded by fresh onions, carrots, greens, sweet soy sauce and of course those tasty Thai cashews. A nice change of pace that’s still packed with flavor.

5. Som Tam (Spicy Green Papaya Salad)
Som Tam (Spicy Green Papaya Salad)

This dish comes straight out of Issan (North East Thailand) and it’s bite is absolutely worse than it’s bark. Som Tam defines the word Spicy and you better be ready to handle it’s saucy bite. A cold dish centered around shredded papaya with garlic, chili’s, greens and tomatoes pulverized by mortar and pestle until it reaches that perfect well rounded consistency of sweet & sour yet very spicy lava. Don’t be a sissy give it a try.

6. Tom Kha Gai (Chicken in Coconut Soup)
Tom Kha Gai (Chicken Coconut Soup)

Much like it’s cousin,  Tom Yum Goong, with it’s seasonings of chili, lime and fish sauce this dish sets itself apart with a smooth flavor you won’t soon forget. The addition of coconut milk transforms this dish  into a milder less spicy version that literally takes on a new rich texture that will leave you wanting more.

7. Panaeng (Meat in Spicy Coconut Cream)
Panaeng (Meat in Spicy Coconut Cream)

This dish tastes similar to the Thai red curry but with the addition of a coconut milk sauce it becomes rich, thick and creamy as well as a bit milder. Panaeng can be made with pork, chicken or beef and is usually served on a bed of warm rice. This well rounded dish is always a sure winner at the table.

8. Gaeng Keow Wan Gai (Green Chicken Curry)
Gaeng Keow Wan Gai (Green Chicken Curry)

This sweet green curry is slightly spicy with it’s blend of green curry chili paste, coconut milk, sugar and fish sauce. Add in moist morsels of chicken, tender bamboo shoots, a generous helping of Thai sweet basil and a hint of coriander and you have a dish that will be remembered for a lifetime.

9. Yam Nua (Spicy Beef Salad)
Yam Nua (Spicy Beef Salad)

Now this is a salad you can sink your teeth into. Fresh and fiery with it’s tender strips of beef, dried chili, coriander, lime, and onion. This dish will definitely add a little ying to your yang . When most people think of Thai food they think spicy, this dish embodies those thoughts nicely.

10. Khao Neeo Mamuang ( Mango with Sweet Coconut Milk Glaze)
Mango with Sweet Coconut Milk Glaze (Khao Neeo Mamuang)

This delectable dish is built from the bottom up starting with a layer of warm sweet sticky rice topped with a  fresh sliced mango and then drizzled in a warm sweetened coconut milk glaze. This my friends is an orgasm on a plate and the best way to end this manifesto of magnificent Thai food.

sig1 Ten Tasty Thai Dishes You Must Try Before You Die

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Comment by SiamRickNo Gravatar
2009-10-06 23:20:06

I’m bookmarking this tasty report. Thank you. I’ve wondered what the names were for some of the dishes I’ve tried. I have a pretty good tolerance for spicy food but I’ve been defeated twice: a green curry chicken in Pattaya at the Queen Vic restaurant and a som tam at an Asoke street bar ordered by one of the girls. I took one bite of the som tam and took about 3 minutes to recover. Took another bite and I was finished. It had, according to the girls, dozens of chillis. It’s the kind of dish that, if it ever were a weapon, would be outlawed by the UN :-)

Keep eye on B vitamin levels if on Thai food diet
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Comment by TalenNo Gravatar
2009-10-07 01:28:06

Your experience with Som Tam is much like mine…that stuff is dangerous.

I just read your post on b vitamin level and it is very good information to keep in mind and probably something most of us don’t think about.

Comment by Eric H. DossNo Gravatar
2009-10-07 14:01:36

I’m right there with you and SiamRick on the Som Tam, though not in Thailand. There’s a great restaurant in my hometown called, creatively enough “Thai Restaurant”, I know the owner and he challenged me to the Som Tam once. It was punishing, to say the least, but strangely enjoyable. I think I love the ability of Thai food to be be unbelievably hot yet not destroy the underlying flavors.
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Comment by malcolmNo Gravatar
2009-10-06 23:32:18

Talen,this is a post ,after my own heart, or should I say stomach,ha ha . I too, am in love with Thai food and there is something magical about eating Thai food , it is indeed a soul food , but it has many ,many health benifits that we as farang know not of , but the Thai cooks of long ago knew and the traditional Thai cooks of today know and are passing it on to the new generation, as a ART so to speak.
Personaly ,my health has improved much , by the easy living and the wonderful Thai dishes of food ,that you so wonderfully describe in your post above.
Thanks for the great pics too and the good commentary about each one , I’m glad it’s almost lunch time , YOU MADE ME HUE. Malcolm
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Comment by TalenNo Gravatar
2009-10-07 01:29:31

Malcolm, I eat much healthier in Thailand than I do in America. Thai food really is like the fountain of youth. I really miss it right now, unfortunately there isn’t much decent Thai food in the U.S.

Comment by MikeNo Gravatar
2009-10-07 01:10:06

Yummy! What else can I say? Only that I miss the odd UK style meal like my Sunday roast.
Mike´s last blog ..Tinglish, Thenglish, Thaiish or Thaianglish? My ComLuv Profile

Comment by TalenNo Gravatar
2009-10-07 01:30:53

Mike, if you are in the mood to travel there are some excellent Sunday carvers in Bankok and Pattaya.

Comment by RoschelleNo Gravatar
2009-10-07 01:24:29

What a beautiful blog!!! The food looks great too. Unfortunately, there aren’t any Thai restaurants close to where I live. These dishes look mouth watering!

Comment by LouisNo Gravatar
2009-10-07 06:16:21

Nice list..

I’m drooling already… I missed Thailand. Nothing beats the “real” Thailand food.

Your fellow Problogger.

Comment by TalenNo Gravatar
2009-10-07 14:35:42

Roschelle, Thank you for the kind words. We’ll have to get you a Thai restaurant :)

Louis, so true. If you want real Thai food there is no place like Thailand to get it.

Comment by Tom BabinszkiNo Gravatar
2009-10-07 09:08:26

Thanks for the tasty post.
I found your blog because you have commented on my last post and I came to check out your blog. And I’m happy I did, because I will be going to Thailand next year for the first time to attend a conference. I will live on your blog in the meantime.
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Comment by TalenNo Gravatar
2009-10-07 14:36:39

Tom, I hope you find the blog helpful in preparing for your trip. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to drop me a line.

Comment by MartynNo Gravatar
2009-10-07 11:55:16

Talen on my recent trip I ate a lot more Thai food than normal and most of it I really enjoyed. I discovered a dish called Rad Naa which is basically a meat and vegetable stew, if you haven’t tried it then give it a go next time as it makes a pleasant change from the normal chilli cocktail mix.

I have got to agree with Rick on the Som Tam, I think UK prison inmates should be forced to eat it three times a day, bring back hard labour, Som Tam would make them think twice about offending again.

Tom Yum Goong is as you write the possible signature dish of Thailand and a fiery starter to any meal, I’ve got to be in the mood for that one. My favourite is the Green Chicken Curry and I would put that in my top 5 dish list from anywhere in the world. Delicious.

The thing about Thai dishes is that they are also a great social tool for families, friends, business and special occasions. The whole meal process is a long affair of chatter and catch up on the latest gossip, hot news and of course TV soaps. A Thai meal is enjoyed not only for the excellent wide range of dishes but also for its social interaction and that is something some of us in the western world have never really had. For many of us meal time is wham bam thank you mam that really filled me up. Great post and one that has put me in the mood for my dinner prior to hitting the night shift. I’d rather tackle a huge plate of Som Tam than the tiring night that awaits me.
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Comment by TalenNo Gravatar
2009-10-07 14:39:53

Martyn, Thai food really is a great social tool. I was confused the first time I ate with Thai people and saw my food being placed in the middle of the table and others were eating it.

Finally they explained the Thai style of eating from everyone’s plates. The only thing I could think was ” what a great concept”.

It’s sad that western dinner time has changed how it has. It used to be a time to catch up and be with family …no more.

Mark another one up for the Thai’s and keeping family bonds strong.

Comment by JoshuaNo Gravatar
2009-10-07 12:51:46

I’m a big fan of Thai food, and have Pad Thai and Tom Kha Gai, from your list (which is making me terribly hungry now!).

I recently moved from New York City to San Antonio and have yet to find my go-to Thai place.

But when I do, I know what dishes to try.

Thanks (see you at PBcom!)
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Comment by SiamRickNo Gravatar
2009-10-07 13:14:03

I have to add that it’s really hard to find good Thai food back home here in Canada. Mostly it’s that flavourless, bland Pablum that could come out of a can. In fact, I just finally bought some Thai (made in Thailand) sauces the other day and I’m going to give it a try. But the main problem will be, other than fact I am hardly skilled in the kitchen, finding fresh ingredients like those in LOS. And that will probably be the killer in trying to re-create a Thai dish.
SiamRick´s last blog ..Keep eye on your B vitamin levels if on Thai food diet My ComLuv Profile

Comment by TalenNo Gravatar
2009-10-07 14:41:26

So true Rick. Have the same problem in America with supposed Thai restaurants and it isn’t easy getting some ingredients…especially when you live in a place with almost no Thai population.

Comment by OneditorialNo Gravatar
2009-10-07 16:58:51

Last Sunday I had Tom Yum for dinner, but it was Tom Yum Gai; chicken Tom Yum. It was delicious. From the Thai dishes that you recommended, the one that I very much have a craving for is Som Tam. It is very spicy and tasty, especially when you eat it with sticky rice and grilled chicken; they just go together pretty well. But I doubt many foreigners would dare to try it. It is too hot.
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Comment by TalenNo Gravatar
2009-10-08 00:46:50

All of us foreigners try Som Tam because we want to prove we aren’t sissies…and then we cry for more water.

Comment by Lawrence Subscribed to comments via email
2009-10-07 22:31:21

Good one, Talen. It is now clear that a successful blog is all about food.

Here in Isan we distinguish between Som Tum Krung Thep and plain Som Tum. The latter contains feremnted fish and lots of tiny grey crabs, and generally has a greyish appearance. The Krung Thep variety is for me, it looks clean and tastes great.

Can we have some more food please.
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Comment by TalenNo Gravatar
2009-10-08 00:48:20

I’ve had that particular Issan dish and it scared me. COme back next week and this blog will be a small Issan restaurant.

2009-10-08 01:37:52

I’m going now for lunch and its going to be Thai. Yummy.

Great list buddy, see ya back at pb.com
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Comment by TracyNo Gravatar
2009-10-08 11:45:48

Yam Nua is my favorite Thai dish of all I’ve tried so far.

My goal is to learn to make Thai curries at home. So delicious!

Comment by TalenNo Gravatar
2009-10-08 11:54:43

Tracy try Joys Thai food


She has excellent instruction on how to prepare many traditional Thai dishes.

Comment by JonNo Gravatar
2009-10-08 12:39:10

Nice list Talen though a few of my classic choices to add to it.

Guateo moo – pork noodle soup, a classic in my residence

Khao pad moo/gai – cos you can’t beat fried rice

Rad naa gobh – vegetable noodle and meat stir fry with sweet sauce (think Martyn mentioned this)

Massaman – pork or chicken curry with potato, peanut and spices

Pad na man hoi – beef and oyster sauce

Khao laam – coconut flavoured rice in bamboo (desert, of course)

I might follow your lead and get a food related post up, though half of them are here already.
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Comment by TalenNo Gravatar
2009-10-08 13:22:09

Now you you are making me hungry.

Khao pad moo/gai with duck is what I want right now.

Khao laam – coconut flavoured rice in bamboo (desert, of course)

Absolutely delicious…did a post on this back in April and now I want more :)

Comment by ChuckWowNo Gravatar
2009-10-10 05:20:12

Boy, you’re making me hungry.

My favorite dish is the “Green Curry Gai” served at P72 in Pattaya. (Not to be confused with Gaeng Keow Wan Gai that they also serve which is MUCH hotter.) It’s kind of a soup/stew with lots of white meat, potatos, and I think banana peppers. It’s not too hot and very tasty.

I love Som Tam, and Tom Yum Gai but my wife has to order them “pet nid noi for farang” for me.

One thing I find interesting about Thai cuisine is that most of the dishes I have eaten contain inedible ingredients. (“No eat” as my wife says when I ask her what these things are floating in my Tom Yum soup.)

Comment by TalenNo Gravatar
2009-10-10 07:46:49

I get the ” no eat” a lot as well. Sometimes because she knows it’s too spicy and other times because it’s only there to add flavor but not be directly eaten.

Comment by TomNo Gravatar Subscribed to comments via email
2009-10-10 23:12:02

Good post. I’m always on the look out for international vegan cuisine (no meat, eggs, dairy) and two of these certainly fall in line. Thanks – can’t wait to give them a try and see how badly I can screw them up!

Comment by The Fitness DivaNo Gravatar
2009-10-18 21:45:45

I just had some Pad Thai this afternoon! ;)

Will have to try some of those other dishes!
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Comment by CatherineNo Gravatar Subscribed to comments via email
2009-11-05 02:47:07

I just finished eating, but after reading down through your list I’m hungry again!

Time to unwrap the durian… yum…
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Comment by TalenNo Gravatar
2009-11-05 18:37:29

And now you have reminded me that I’m hungry…where will it end! :)

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