I dare you to try Thai a-la-carte

For those who have been to Thailand for several times, you might have been all too familiar with Pad Thai or Tom Yam Koong already.

I suggest you try eating at a Thai a-la-carte (ตามสั่ง) food shop. This is where local people actually eat everyday (not Tom Yam Koong). Besides, it’s cheap and delicious.

You can find Thai a-la-carte everywhere on the streets of Bangkok. Some of them are inside the building. Others are along the pathways. In case you are too concerned with hygiene, you can also find them at the food court inside the malls.

Thai a la carte

In general, there are two types of Thai food shops. The first one is pre-cooked and the second one is true a-la-carte. The pre-cooked shops usually display a lot of ready-to-eat food on trays in front of their shop, whereas the true a-la-cartes usually show raw materials such as uncooked meat or raw vegetables in front. The latter is the kind of food shop that I recommend. In some cases, they might have both types of food available in the same shop.

Pre-cooked Food Store

When you order the food, they might ask whether or not you want to add fried eggs (“Kai Down”, ไข่ดาว). Also, you might want to tell them if you don’t eat very hot (spicy) food by saying “Mai Pet. (ไม่เผ็ด)”

There are quite a few food to order at an a-la-carte. Most of them are generic, so they are available at every shop. The followings are those I suggest you to try.

  1. Basil Chicken with Rice (กระเพราไก่ไข่ดาวราดข้าว Kra paw kai kai Dao)

This dish is by far the most common food for local Thais for lunch. There is a saying if they don’t know what to order, they will order this every day. You can swap chicken with any kind of protein such as minced pork, pork, beef, shrimp or even squid. The fried egg is optional, but Thais people love to go with it so much.

2. Fried Pork with garlic and pepper served with rice (หมูกระเทียมพริกไทย Moo Ga Tiam Prick Thai)

Another typical recipe I want you to try. It might be a little bit dry but it is a great choice when you miss fried food.

3. Stir fried Kale with crispy pork on oyster sauce served with rice (คะน้าหมูกรอบ Ka na moo krob )

This recipe is a mix of Chinese and Thai cuisine. This crispy pork is so great. Alternatively, you can go with salted fish if you are too concerned about health.


4. Stir fried spicy sea food served with rice (ผัดฉ่าทะเลราดข้าว Pat Cha Ta Lay)

This recipe incorporates so many Thai spices and hence the perfect sauce for sea food.

5. Stir fried curry powder with seafood served with rice. (ผัดผงกะหรี่)

You can have crab with curry powder  at the restaurant, but you can also taste the same sauce at a la crate shop as well. Don’t miss.

6. Drunken Noodles (Pat Kee Mao ผัดขี้เมา)

As the name suggests, legend has it that the drunken noodle was created when the inventor was drunk. Aside from noodles, you may opt for spaghetti as well.

7. Suki (สุกี้)

You might have tried a “steamboat” before. In fact, you can have another version of steamboat at Thai a la carte, too. You can opt for either with soup or without soup. They are delicious.

Nobody knows for sure why this dish is called sukiyaki, but it has nothing to do with Japanese food.


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