The most popular part of world-famous Phuket island, Pa Tong is a vibrant beach town with picturesque white-sand beaches, endless shopping opportunities, exciting and vivacious nightlife, a thrilling offer of sea adventures, and a versatile restaurant scene. There is never a shortage of things to do and see in this colorful place, but one of the segments you definitely shouldn’t miss is getting a taste of its rich street-food culture. It is one of Thai staples, hugely popular and present everywhere. If you are a bit overwhelmed and intimidated by such an amazing variety of new food and flavors and don’t know where to start, we have come up with a list of the top street food you must try in Pa Tong, Thailand.
1. Kai yang (grilled chicken)
After a whole day on the beach, kai yang is the perfect dish to help you bring your strength back. Originally a Laotian/Isan specialty, this is one of the most-beloved meals across the whole land of Thailand—with many different variations. It is usually prepared by cutting a chicken in half, flattening it, and then smothering the meat in a delicious and spicy marinade with ingredients such as fish sauce, garlic, coriander root, turmeric, white pepper, hoisin sauce, lemongrass, ginger, and shallots. Once marinated, the chicken is grilled slowly over low heat, until the skin is crispy, but the meat stays moist and juicy. It is often eaten with another Thai classic called som tam (green papaya salad) and khao niaow (sticky rice). This dish is also delicious when paired with fresh veggies and hot sauces such as jaew bong.
2. Kanom jeeb (Thai steamed dumplings)
Kanom jeeb is a great way to start your day in Pa Tong. It is a Thai take on a classic Chinese dish called dim sum. You will find many colorful versions of these dumplings, but usually, it is a mixture based on pork, shrimp, and water chestnuts wrapped in wontons and served with sweet soy dipping sauce. When you buy it on the street, you will probably find many different kinds of dumplings but no menu, so you might have to pick with your eyes, but rest assured that these little aromatic balls will be a pleasure to your senses.
3. Moo ping (grilled pork skewers)
Similar to kai yang, the variants of this dish depend on the marinade used for the meat, but they are mostly based on garlic, coriander roots, and pepper. Pieces of marinated pork are then placed on skewers and grilled over a charcoal flame. You will easily spot them on the street—just look for the cart with the smoke around it. You will be hit by the tempting and irresistible smell and aroma of moo ping. This dish is even more delicious when paired with sticky rice and dipped into namchim chaeo spicy sauce.
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4. Khao pad (fried rice)
Khao pad is Thai-style egg fried rice, and it can feature different types of meat, such as chicken, pork, or seafood—but is always prepared with jasmine rice. It is traditionally served with exactly three slices of fresh cucumber and often topped with a fried egg. You can drizzle it with some lime juice, or if you want a full authentic flavor, then ask for prik nam pla—fish sauce with chopped chilies. It will add a bit of a kick to an otherwise classic and simple yet tasty dish.
5. Fish ball skewers
Fish balls are adored all over Asia. These mouthwatering bites can be eaten independently, strung on bamboo skewers, or as a delicious addition to other dishes such as green curry or soups. On the streets of Pa Tong, you will find them made with fish called pla krai and beautiful fresh ingredients like lemongrass, garlic, red onions, green beans, and more. The fish balls are deep-fried and served with tangy sweet chili or classic peanut dipping sauce. A great thing about Thai street food is that most of the food vendors specialize in preparing only one dish, so you can be sure they are true experts in their trade.
6. Pad thai (stir-fried rice noodles)
Easily one of the most popular Asian dishes, pad thai has become the favorite of tourists from all over. It is a stir-fried rice-noodle dish prepared with eggs, tofu, fish sauce, diced shrimp, garlic, and red chilies, then sweetened with some palm sugar. Sometimes it may include other proteins like chicken or crab. This simple, authentic food will probably taste a little bit different in each place you try it. Everyone has a secret recipe and their own ways to make it. Pad thai is often served with a side of garlic chives, bean sprouts, and even banana leaves, with a few wedges of lime and sprinkled with roasted peanuts. In 2011, it was pronounced the fifth most delicious dish in the world by CNN Go, so you know it would be a great shame not to sample the real deal when you come to Thailand.
7. Roti (Thai pancakes)
Roti is the most popular dessert in Thailand, and since pancakes are so universally loved and well-known, this delicacy is now often advertised under the English name, so you won’t have any trouble finding it when you need a little boost of energy after conquering Pa Tong’s shopping malls. It is a humble pan-fried bread made with wheat flour, but the trick is in the special techniques that street vendors use to make it extra thin, which is so mesmerizing to watch. Once done and crispy, roti is topped with all kinds of goodies—from sugar and condensed milk to Nutella, chocolate sauce, bananas, and fresh fruit.
8. Kuey teow (noodle soup)
The beauty of this dish lies in the fact that you can almost build your own. You will probably be met with a great array of different ingredients and condiments you can pick from, to make sure that the soup is just up to your taste. Pork, chicken, seafood, beef, boiled eggs, rice or yellow noodles—the choice is yours. If you don’t like to experiment with new food too much, maybe it would be best to remember the “mai nai” phrase, so you can warn the vendor that you don’t want entrails in your soup.
9. Tod mun pla (fish cakes)
These flavorful and fragrant deep-fried cakes are a popular and appetizing snack in Thailand, but if you pair them with some fluffy jasmine rice, it makes for an ideal lunch by the sea, to enjoy with the sound of crashing waves and the warm touch of the sun on your skin. They are made with fresh fish paste, red curry paste for extra taste, kaffir lime leaves, and long beans for a bit of crunch in an otherwise perfectly soft cake. To round everything up, dip them in a sauce that is an intriguing combination of fresh cucumbers and crispy peanuts spiced up with chili, garlic, sugar, and vinegar.
10. Massaman curry
Pronounced by CNN Go as the single most delicious meal in the world, massaman curry is an absolute must-try when visiting Thailand. This dish is not typical Thai food. Instead, it takes the best authentic Thai ingredients such as lemongrass, garlic, galangal, chili, and cilantro and mixes them with classic Indian dry spices like cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and cumin and creates this unique, mouthwatering fusion. All these ingredients are cooked with meat, coconut milk, roasted peanuts, onions, potatoes, and fish and tamarind sauce into a lavish creamy rhapsody of flavors and aromas. Since it is originally a Muslim dish, this curry is most often prepared with chicken or beef, but there are versions with duck, pork, and tofu—and some even include oranges. Massaman curry would be an unforgettable addition to any Thai night.
Have a taste of Pa Tong's amazing street food
The unique, colorful, aromatic, and delicious world of Thai street food is definitely worth exploring. You will get to know this beautiful land and its people much better not just by sampling the different flavors and textures of these hearty dishes but also by observing the skillful vendors and their techniques and styles of preparing the delicacies. No matter what best suits your palate, you will find a dish to fall in love with, and each time you come back, you will discover something new to amaze you.
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