8 Must Try Thai Food from 4 Regions

Written by Team Expique
Published: April 8, 2020

Thailand is a land of food and a heaven for foodies, due to so much variety of food that you can eat till you drop. Pad Thai, Tom Yum, Papaya Salad (som tum) and Mango Sticky Rice, these well-known dishes are only the tip of the iceberg. There is a wide diversity of foods that are waiting for you to try.

If you would like to experience diversity of Thai cuisine then you need to explore the regional cuisines from the 4 main regions of Thailand; North, Central, Isaan (Northeastern Thailand) and South. Each region has its differences, with varying spiciness, local ingredients and unique dishes.  To get you started, here are 8 must try dishes from 4 regions of Thailand Let’s start from the North and move down to the South!

Northern Thai Food

Khao Soi (Coconut Curry Noodle Soup)

Khao Soi image from bump23: https://www.shutterstock.com/th/image-photo/khao-soi-recipe-curried-noodle-soup-1132945196

A classic Northern Thai noodle commonly found especially in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. The word “khao” in Thai basically means “rice” but surprisingly, non of the ingredients made from rice. Khao Soi is a traditional food that was influenced from Burmese Muslim cuisine, so it is usually made with beef and chicken (can made with pork or other meats as well but not pupular) combines with boiled and crispy noodles served with slight pickled lettuce. The curry is similar to green curry as they both made from coconut but yellow curry in Khao Soi is more watery and eaten as a soup. Curry in the original Muslim version has a very strong flavour as they use a lot of coconut cream and is quite spicy. On the other hand, Khao Soi from the North of Thailand will be more diluted and has a good balance of flavours.

Nam Prik Noom (Green Chili Dip)

Nam Prik Noom image from Alpha: https://www.flickr.com/photos/avlxyz/7219959430

A green chili dip that can blow your mind at first taste. Chili, garlic and shallot are roasted and mixed well until soft, served on a small saucer with boiled or fresh vegetables and sticky rice. This can be considered as a healthy food. However, you should try with crispy puffed pork rinds (Kap Moo), they amazingly go well together! You might enjoy eating them til forget about calories. 

For more ideas on Northern Thai food check out this article on Northern Thai Food.

Isaan Food (North-Eastern Thailand)

Isaan Sausage

Isaan Sausage image from Creative Commons Zero - CC0, DMCA Contáctenos: https://www.pxfuel.com/es/free-photo-jsdir

Isaan Sausage or Sai Krok Isaan is a much loved local munched street food from Isaan that can be found throughout Thailand. Its unique savoury, sour, and a little bit sweet flavours come from a mix of fermented pork, garlic and rice which give them a sour flavour, and then seasoned with salt and pepper. In some recipes, they also add vermicelli (glass noodles) to create more texture. Their skins are crunchy at first bite but when you start to chew, all the flavours will come out and spread all over your mouth. To experience a perfect Isaan flavour, you should eat it along with fresh green chillies, galam, and thin cuts of ginger. 

Khao Jee (Grilled Sticky Rice)

Khao Jee image from Danaichanok Paetmon: https://www.shutterstock.com/th/image-photo/khao-jee-street-food-thai-style-1525196750

A popoular Isaan snack, round shaped sticky rice dip with egg, flavored by salt (sometimes stuffed with pieces of cane sugar) and grilled over charcoal until it’s perfectly crispy. You will feel a crunchy on the outside and a soft inside along with a smokey smell and little salty flavour.

For more ideas on Isaan food check out this article on Isaan Food.

Central Thai Food

Hor Mok Pla (Thai Curried Fish Custard)

Hor Mok image from Jidnun_gallery: https://www.shutterstock.com/th/image-photo/steamed-fish-curry-paste-329129156

Hor Mok is a fish mousse flavored with red curry paste, egg and coconut cream before being streamed in banana leaf cups. It is a perfect combination of creamy, salty and sweet tastes (may be slightly spicy in some recipes). Also, it goes well together with rice. In Thai, “Hor” means to wrap, “Mok” refers to a traditional cooking method in which food is placed on banana leaves and cooked on charcoal and “Pla” is translated as fish. Hor Mok doesn’t originate in Thailand but has been adapted to fit into the framework of Thai cuisine. Currently, it has become one of the popular Thai dishes that often ordered in restaurants not only in Central part but all over Thailand.  

Tom Kha Gai (Thai Coconut Chicken Soup)

Tom Kha Gai image from Edsel Little: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edsel_/4692424284

A creamy coconut soup made with chicken. Tom Kha Gai is quite similar to Tom Yum but coconut milk makes it different. Rich, sour, salty, little spicy and full of aromatic ingredients like galangal root, lemongrass, ginger and kaffir lime leaves. Tom Kha Gai is one of Thailand’s most popular soups that you will never failed when order. Moreover, it’s gluten-free and vegan-adaptable! 

Southern Thai Food

Bai Liang Phad Kai (Stir-Fried Melinjo Leaves with Egg)

Bai Liang Phad Kai image from MIA studio: https://www.shutterstock.com/th/image-photo/close-delicious-stirfried-baegu-leaves-gnetum-754741168

A mouthwatering vegetable dish that people who don’t like vegetables can eat! Bai Liang is named a queen of local vegetables in the South of Thailand. It’s usually eaten as a side dish or stir-fried with either chili paste or egg. It has a unique flavour – greasy, sweet and mind. This dish is good for everyone as it’s healthy, not spicy and yummy!  

Moo Hong (Phuket Pork Belly Stew)

Moo Hong image from TEERASAK KHUNRACH: https://www.shutterstock.com/th/image-photo/moo-hong-stewed-pork-brown-sauce-1021991011

A famous stewed pork belly in Phuket which has been influenced by immigrant Chinese coming to Thailand in the past. It’s quite similar to Moo Palo, but with fewer ingredients. The pork belly is well stewed with sweet gravy soy sauce until it absorbs all the flavours and becomes juicy, sweet and a little salty – dainty!   

For more ideas on Southern Thai food check out this article on food in Phuket.

Photo Credits: bump23, Alpha, Creative Commons Zero – CC0, DMCA Contáctenos, Danaichanok Paetmon, Jidnun_gallery, Edsel Little, MIA studio, and TEERASAK KHUNRACH

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