10 Best Thai Foods Available in Pattaya
Thailand has so much to offer that most people are scared of missing out on anything. To truly appreciate the country you have to open your mind and your senses and one of the most important senses is undoubtedly taste. To get a real taste of Thailand, in every sense, you need to eat like the locals eat and enjoy some of the local foods that we are perhaps not familiar with in the west. Pattaya has literally dozens if not hundreds of expat restaurants but if you only eat in these places, you will miss out on so much.
Pattaya is very multicultural city and that doesn’t just go for expats it includes Thais coming to the city from far and wide for various reasons. One of the great things about this is that they bring their region’s food to Pattaya with Isaan being a prime example. Isaan food is on the whole spicy and sour and when this is blended with fresh fish and seafood that is so freely available in Pattaya, then you soon end up with some exquisite dishes. We have sought to find 10 fantastic Thai dishes that are diverse in their nature but freely available in Pattaya.
1. Som Tum (Spicy Green Papaya Salad)
Som Tum is the dish that you see many of the bargirls tucking into on a frequent basis. It originates from Isaan and amongst farang (foreigners) it has something of a Marmite reputation – you either love it or hate it. The main constituent is shredded raw green papaya mixed with chillies, garlic, tomatoes and green beans. Added to this will be fish sauce and lime juice with some Thais also choosing to add peanuts, salted crab and dried shrimps. The dish is usually purchased from street vendors who are easily recognisable by their pestle and mortar.
2. Tom Yum Goong (Spicy Shrimp Soup)
Another favourite amongst Thais is Tom Yum a spicy soup. The main ingredient of choice appears to be shrimp although chicken is also frequently used. The aromatic soup is made from a combination of lemongrass, galangal, kafir lime leaves, chilli, shallots and fish sauce. With the abundance of seafood in Pattaya, there is little surprise that the dish is so popular and conjures up everything that you imagine Thai food to taste like. You will find this in most restaurants in Pattaya including my expat owned establishments.
3. Yum Woon Sen (Spicy Glass Noodles)
One of the most popular salads available in Thailand, Yum Woon Sen is often regarded as a low calorie meal. Glass noodles are the main ingredients and to it has added garlic, onion, lime, chilli and Chinese celery. Minced pork is sometimes added to the dish as well although many Thais feel that breaks the intended purpose of being part of a calorie controlled diet. You will find the in a lot of Thai restaurants in Pattaya with some offering the dish with large cooked prawns.
4. Pad Krapow Moo Sap (Fried Pork with Basil)
This is a dish that is popular with both Thais and farangs and is often served as a one-plate dish. The dish is made from minced pork and added to it is often chilli, garlic, green beans, onions, soy sauce and oyster sauce although. The holy basil is added at the end to ensure that it doesn’t get overcooked. This is a meaty and spicy dish with the fat and juices from the pan being served with the dish. It is usually served with steamed rice and a fried egg.
5. Gai Yang with Khao Niao (Chicken with Sticky Rice)
This is a very straightforward dish but one that is always very popular. It is just grilled chicken served with sticky rice. The dish is usually served with a number of different sauces such as sweet chilli sauce although, as this is Thailand, some locals prefer it to be served with something that has a little more of a kick. Often the food is eaten ‘on the go’ as it can be eaten by hand although this can be quite messy. It is a delicious and filling dish served on many food carts and at restaurants.
6. Pla Pao (Salt-Crusted Fish with Lemongrass)
If you have walked past a few barbeque stalls in your time in Pattaya, there is a good chance that you will have seen a whole fish being barbequed, complete with sticks of lemongrass coming out of its mouth and completely covered in salt. This is a very popular and tasty meal, the salt keeps the fish moist and succulent and protects the flesh from the harsh heat. The fish, a tilapia fish, has a fruity, sour flavour whilst the lemongrass adds a delicious addition. It is often eaten with garlic and chilli dressings.
7. Khao Pad Gung (Fried Rice with Prawns)
Fried rice is served with many dishes and forms an important staple of Thai cooking due to the fact that it can fill even the hungriest of stomachs. In recent years, it has been common to put a fried egg on top in an American style but the original had the egg mixed amongst the rice with onions, carrots, peas, herbs and seasonings added. It can be made with almost any meat but here in Pattaya it is popular with seafood. Thais and expats are regularly seen adding additional seasonings and condiments to the dish to add flavour – fish sauce, chilli and lime juice are prime examples.
8. Khao Niaow Ma Muang (Sticky Mango Rice)
This is an extremely sweet dish and a popular and well known dessert anywhere in Thailand. You will stalls and vendors that only sell this dish and it is a very simple comprising of mango, sticky rice and coconut milk. All of the ingredients are fresh and this certainly adds to the flavour but be aware that Thai mangos are very sweet and with the added sugar of the other items can make the food border of sickly sweet.
9. Pad Thai (Thai-Style Fried Noodles)
Pad Thai is one of the many Thai dishes that we have all heard of and can be found almost anywhere in the world but is sold in pretty much every restaurant in Pattaya. It consists of wide noodles, onion, egg and commonly a meat although in Pattaya, once again prawns are often the first choice. Fresh beansprouts are added along with ground peanuts, chilli powder, sugar and fish sauce.
10. Khao Tom (Rice Soup)
Often eaten for breakfast but can be eaten at any time of the day or if you are feeling under the weather, Khao Tom is effectively a rice based broth and looks like porridge but is actually made from jasmine rice. Included is ginger, spring onion, lemongrass, eggs, meats and fish sauce. It may not look great but it certainly tastes delicious!