All the hotels do breakfast but it is more suited to Germans and Thais with smoked sausages and fish soup. In locations like Pattaya and Phuket there are places like Fat Joe's but that's about it for full English. Some of the more edible offerings are omelette or egg on toast and European salad stuff, though the bread has a sweet flavour.
Finding food in rural areas is a pain for non-Thai speakers but in Chang Mai resides an American who writes, occasionally, about rural food. Chanchao's thai travel menu is your food bible and worth taking with you. Pointing and hoping for the best is the regular way to order and usually leads to finding out what you do not like rather than getting lucky so prepare yourself.
Whenever I go to my local restaurant the chef asks me "For Thai or Falang?"
This page is not about Thai food, it is about food in Thailand.
The food sold on the streets is perfectly safe to eat and will not give you food poisoning. It also tastes great so don't be afraid to try it. Often they will announce their arrival by honking an old style hooter or ringing a bicycle bell or some have quiet ice cream van chimes. But everywhere you go, you can smell them cooking.
The fruit is prepared for you (pom lamai sap) and sold in portions with a stick and often sold by non-English speaking Thais so the following is useful:
Watermelon = Tang Moh, Mangosteen = Mang Khut, Pineapple = Sap Bpa Roht, Sugarcane = Dtohn Aawy, Mango = Mah Muang, Durian = Thoo Riian, Guava = Farang Dong, Rambutan = Ngaw, Coconut = Ma Phraao
BBQ street foods are:
key: not hot (mai phet) mild (phet nit noyn) very hot (phet maak) sour (phriew)
Gai Yang = chicken dressed with yoghurt oyster sauce soy sauce lemongrass pepper corns and garlic,
Gai Thaawt = chicken marinanded with fish sauce (nam pla) and herbs and deep fried in fresh oil (roht dee),
Dtap Gai Yang = chicken livers glazed with a secret recipe of sauces and spices,
Bpeek Gai Yang = chicken wings,
Toot Gai Yang = chicken bums (parsons noses),
Moo Yang = thin strips of pork belly dressed with oyster sauce soy sauce pepper corns and garlic,
Sai Krohk or Naarm = Vietnamese sausage that Thai/Laos are very are fond of. Very smokey flavour,
Luuk Chin Moo or Neuua = pork or beef meatballs sometimes with a Thai sweet gravy,
Luuk Chin Pla = fishballs made from minced fish,
Plaa Meuk Yang = squid, not like calamari and sometimes peppered so ask if phet or say mai ow phet, ?
Yang is served with a sweet chili sauce (nam jim warn) or a red dip called nam jim phet,
Thai fast food
The dishes are different to your local Thai restaurant but are generally much tastier as well as much cheaper. Most cafe's and restaurants use fresh local ingredients rather than frozen and service is usually paramount. This isn't always the case but there are indicators. If a restaurant is crammed with Thais the food will be good. It is a good idea to make sure your kids, or yourself come to that, will eat this kind of food before you book Thailand for a holiday.
Rural restaurants that delight:
|Translation menu PDF download at Travel Menu||Cheap and great fun at a Moo Yaang restaurant.||Khao Moo Daang at a Tesco Lotus. Pork in a sweet and sour sauce on rice with a clear soup.|
|Moo Sateak. Pork Steak in a black pepper sauce with a sweet salad.||Ghai Sateak. Chicken Fillet in a spicy red wine sauce served with Man Falang - chips.||Moo Priew Waan Phet. A sweet and sour pork dish with mild chilli on a bed of rice.|
|crispy fish with chilli, onion, peanut, and sour sauce served with Tom Yam.||Ghai Pad mun Himmaphaan. Fried chicken with cashew nuts served with fried rice.||Salad dressings. Crab carved out of a turnip on a bed of carrot, lettuce, and white cabbage.|
Popular Issan dishes:
What Thai eat at home:
Long ago Thailand was made up of four regions. Phaak Neuua, Dtawan Neuua, Ork Neuua, and Chiang Neuua or Issan to the North and East, predominantly of Laos descent, the poorest area having very simple dishes heavily spiced to cure the meat. Phaak Neuua is the Northern region of Chiang Mai and Sukhothai and is influenced by the Burmese. The food is also simple but is much richer in flavour and less spicy. The middle of the country is of Siamese descent with expensive quality food and known as Phaak Gaang Krung Thep and includes Bangkok and to the south is Phaak Dtai which has food of a fusion style and very much influenced by Malaysia with gentle flavours and tepidly spiced more with ginger than the northern region who like a lot of galangal, lemongrass, and chillies.
Today's Thailand is a fusion of all the different influences and is what makes Thailand the most diverse and some would say the best place in the world for food but family life has changed very little for the rural boroughs and Issan has a somewhat extreme palette. This isn't a problem for tourists but if you are visiting a Thai family you might want to be prepared. You will find family life is very welcoming and accomodating. They know that farang do not share their appreciation of more unusual foods but don't be scared to try it.
If you find yourself unable to locate a more western style food there are Tesco Lotus stores everywhere and they usually have a restaurant and you will be semi-safe at any moo yang. Most families have a small barbeque because they cook with charcoal and they also have moo yang at home. One of my favourite Issan dishes is Pla Yaang. It is a barbequed fish. The fish is caught and bred in the village pond and skewered on home grown bamboo and wrapped in home grown Panjan Leaves. Little is bought from the supermarket and though villagers are poor their diet is very rich and healthy.
Ingredients grown locally: