Located on Thailand’s Eastern Gulf Coast, Pattaya is a city famous for its beaches, luxury resorts, and nightlife. A place that less than a century ago was a quiet fishing village has turned into one of Thailand’s most popular tourist attractions. The city’s rich and diverse Thai cuisine also attracts foodies from all over the world. Eating in Pattaya is an experience in itself, as the streets are filled with a plethora of restaurants and street-food vendors. Read on as we explore some of the best street food you must try in Pattaya, Thailand, for an immersion into the spectacular tastes of authentic Thai cuisine.
1. Khao gaeng (rice covered with curry)
Khao gaeng, meaning “rice covered with curry,” is an authentic Thai dish that can be found at every corner in Pattaya. Already prepared and ready to be served, it’s an excellent choice if you’re on the go. You’ll see many locals enjoying a dish of khao gaeng around lunchtime, as it’s a quick alternative to a sit-down meal. The dish consists of stir-fried rice with curry, vegetables, and meat.
2. Som tum (green papaya salad)
Another authentic Thai dish that is popular in the streets of Pattaya is som tum, which can be translated as green papaya salad. The dish is made of shredded unripe papaya, peanuts, beans, dried seafood, tomatoes, fish sauce, and chili—which gives it an unexpected spicy taste. The salad is quite refreshing, and just like Thai food in general, it offers a unique blend of elements that you wouldn’t usually put together but creates an explosive taste full of flavor.
3. Tom yum goong (hot and sour Thai soup)
Whether you missed breakfast or you’re ready for lunch or dinner, tom yum is a traditional Thai soup that is worth a try. It is a hot and sour soup, usually cooked with shrimp. The soup is very rich in flavor, as it is made of a broth that contains lots of local herbs and spices, as well as fish sauce, crushed chili peppers, lime juice, lemongrass, and kaffir lime leaves. While in Pattaya, you might find different versions of the soup made with shrimp, chicken, beef, or pork.
4. Kai jeow (Thai-style omelet)
Another must-try dish while wandering the streets of Pattaya, kai jeow is a Thai reinterpretation of the popular omelet we find all over the world. Here, the local delicacy is served on a platter and consists of a fluffy omelet with cooked rice, flavored with chili and fish sauce. The omelet itself is pretty easy to cook, so you’ll be able to prepare it at home whenever you miss Thailand. All you need are two ingredients: eggs and fish sauce. Some recipes also suggest adding tomatoes, green onions, or shrimp, but they’re not mandatory.
5. Moo ping (Thai grilled pork skewers)
Spices and herbs are not the only ingredients locals like to cook with, in Thailand, but meat too. Moo ping is a great example, as it is easily found in the streets of Pattaya. The dish consists of grilled pork on a wooden skewer, and it’s usually served with a side of sticky rice and sauce. It’s a hearty dish preferred by locals and tourists alike. There are variations to it, with marinated chicken instead of pork meat.
6. Fried grasshoppers
Probably the most unusual dishes you’ll ever see served on the streets of Thailand are bugs and insects. Yes, you read it correctly. Bugs here are quite the delicacy, and they’re served lightly stir-fried in oil for an extra crunch. Grasshoppers, beetles, and cockroaches, you name it. While cockroaches might be a bit too much, especially if it’s your first time trying these types of insects on a plate, you can start with grasshoppers. If you don’t focus so much on the idea that you’re eating an insect, you might even enjoy the taste.
There’s something about Thai street food on a stick. It’s easy to cook, as it usually comes in small portions, and it’s easy to eat on the go. Satay is an excellent option—it’s basically grilled meat on a wooden stick. The classic satay is made with chicken, but you can also find sausages, fish, steak, and even fruit on a stick. It’s the Thai spices that make the difference and give this dish a fantastic taste.
8. Pad Thai (stir-fried rice noodles)
Another tasty dish served, either as street food or in Thai restaurants, pad Thai is a type of stir-fried rice noodle dish. There are many variations of pad Thai in Thailand, not to mention all around the world. The authentic, classic version is made with rice noodles, shrimp, shallot, garlic, chili flakes, radish, beansprouts, lime, and roasted peanuts. Some versions you’ll find sold on the streets of Pattaya have a bright orange color—it comes from shrimp tomalley and is called pad Thai mun goong.
9. Pla pao (Thai grilled fish)
Pla pao is Thai grilled fish cooked, uniquely, in a thick layer of salt. First, the fish is stuffed with kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass and then coated with salt. The salt crust will keep the fish meat juicy and moist, without making it too salty. It is a very healthy way of cooking the fish, without too much oil or additional ingredients. The recipe is as delicious as it is simple and will leave you with a scrumptious fish dish with a wonderful lemongrass taste and a subtle lemony fragrance.
10. Jok (rice porridge)
Jok is the Thai version of congee, also known as rice porridge. It may not sound or look too appealing, but prepare to be surprised, as by most Thai dishes. Jok can make for a hearty Thai breakfast either on the go or at sit-down restaurants. The rice porridge can be cooked on a stove or charcoal, although the latter will give it a slightly smoky flavor. The bowl usually contains pork too, but you can order it without meat as well. The pork is usually pre-cooked separately and added to the order by request.
The many flavors of Thai cuisine
Thai cuisine is rich in color and flavor. It is diverse and very versatile. Walking the streets of Pattaya can be quite the feast for your senses, as street vendors will compete in flavors and appetizing dishes, ready for you to grab and enjoy on the go. Before placing your order, check out our list of the best street food you must try in Pattaya, Thailand.
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