The 9 Best Thai Food Dishes

The 9 Best Thai Food Dishes

thai food

Thai food is globally renowned and loved for being warm, comforting, and jam-packed with flavor. With delicious notes of seafood, coconut milk, Asian spices, and chili, with the umami of fish sauce and the freshness of lime juice, the flavor profile of Thai food is a very unique characteristic of itself.

Thailand has certain signature dishes that have to be tried when you’re traveling there and these delicious dishes are the backbones of traditional Thai cuisine. From the scrumptious and flavor-packed Pad Thai noodles to the deliciously creamy Thai Green Curry, Thai cuisine is one of the best in the world. Nothing screams comfort and flavor quite like Thai food. Let’s look at the best Thai food dishes that you absolutely have to try.

9 Best Thai Food Dishes

Flat Noodle Stir Fry – Pad Thai

Pad Thai noodles

Pad Thai is a delicious dish of Thai stir-fried noodles featuring a delightful combination of five different flavor profiles sweet, umami, bitter, spicy and sour. Made of flat rice noodles that are stir-fried with egg, shallots, garlic, a protein such as chicken, shrimp, or fish, and vegetables like scallions, tossed in a sweet and spicy sauce made of soy sauce, fish sauce, red chili pepper, lime juice, and other such ingredients, is what gives Pad Thai its characteristic flavor. A highly popular street-style noodle cooked on a high flame in a wok, this is the most renowned dish of Thai food.

Spicy Green Papaya Salad – Som Tam

Thai papaya salad

The ultimate combination of freshness combined with the zingy flavors of sweet and sour, this famous Thai salad originating from Northern Thailand is made from shredded green papaya, carrots, green beans, dried shrimp, peanuts, and cherry tomatoes and is tossed in a dressing of chili, palm sugar, fish sauce, shallots, garlic, and lime juice. This salad, yet again, highlights the basic flavor profiles of sweet, spicy, and tangy or sour. Raw green papaya is believed to be extremely healthy.

Thai Green Curry – Gaeng Keow Wan Gai

Thai green curry

Made with a base of Thai Green Curry Paste, this fragrant and creamy coconut-milk-based curry is the most popular Thai curry. With hints of spicy green chilies, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, and shrimp paste, this curry is rich, aromatic, spicy, sweet, and extremely creamy. The creaminess cuts right through the spice, and the coconut milk adds a layer of sweetness to the curry. Served with Thai Jasmine Rice usually, and cooked with eggplant, chicken breast slices, and potatoes, this is a dish that is not to be missed!

Thai Noodle Soup – Kuay Teow

Thai noodle soup, Kuay Teow

A hearty bowl of warm broth soup usually had in the colder months or when sick, the noodle soups in Thailand are made in hundreds of different ways. The most common way to make Thai Noodle Soup is to use the base of a chicken or beef broth, thin rice noodles, and cut-up pieces of chicken, pork, or beef, with the addition of wontons or even meatballs. The broth has a ton of flavor from the stock as well as additional condiments like chili peppers, lime juice, sugar, and fish sauce. The most perfect pick-me-up comfort soup.

Spicy Shrimp Soup – Tom Yum Goong

Thai spicy shrimp soup - tom yum goong

One of the most famous Thai soups, the Spicy Shrimp Soup or Tom Yum Goong is spicy and sour and has very bold flavors. The soup is prepared with the base of a Tom Yum paste which uses signature Thai ingredients like galangal and lemongrass, but the highlights of which are spicy Thai chilies, kaffir lime leaves, Thai basil, and fish sauce. This is traditionally a clear soup with shrimp and aromatics but there are versions of it with other proteins like chicken, and sometimes coconut milk is added to the base to give it an edge of sweetness.

Thai Chicken Coconut Soup – Tom Kha Gai

Tom Kha Gai - Thai coconut chicken soup

Tom Kha Gai or Thai Chicken Coconut Soup uses the same base paste as the Tom Yum Goong soup with similar flavors but is characteristically prepared with coconut milk and chicken. This soup is perfect for those that prefer mild sweetened flavors in a creamy soup, with just a nice undertone of spice.

Fried Rice – Khao Pad

Khao Pad - Thai fried rice

This is the traditional hawker-style Thai fried rice that is beloved for its delicious umami flavors from the soy sauce, fish sauce, and sometimes even oyster sauce, cooked with egg and protein like shrimp or chicken and topped with some fresh green scallions. This is often even enjoyed with traditional Thai basil chicken and that makes for a heavenly pair!

Spicy Salad – Laab

Laab Spicy Thai Salad

This highly spicy salad is made with a protein such as minced pork, chicken, or mushroom and accompanied by chilies, coriander, shallots, fish sauce, lime juice, and mint. This is a refreshing and meaty salad but has a strong kick of spice as well. This is sometimes accompanied by a spicy dipping sauce as well, although this isn’t the traditional way to serve it. Authentically, it should be had on its own as it has dynamic and strong flavors.

Mango Sticky Rice – Khao Niao Mamuang

Thai Mango Sticky Rice

And last but certainly not least, we have this renowned Thai dessert of sticky rice that is cooked and topped with delicious coconut milk, and served with fresh mango slices on the side. Comfort at its finest, you wouldn’t find a more unique dessert than this. You will find this unique sticky rice dessert in most places right from the hawker food stalls to the fanciest Thai restaurants.


What Thai food should I try first?

Your first Thai food meal should be something that includes stir-fried noodles like Pad Thai, a delicious coconut milk-based Thai curry like Red, Green, or Yellow Curry served with rice and a delicious salad like their Green Papaya Salad or Laab.

What is the most popular Thai food?

Some of the most popular Thai dishes are:

  • Flat Noodle Stir Fry – Pad Thai
  • Spicy Green Papaya Salad – Som Tam
  • Thai Green Curry – Gaeng Keow Wan Gai
  • Thai Noodle Soup – Kuay Teow
  • Spicy Shrimp Soup – Tom Yum Goong
  • Thai Chicken Coconut Soup – Tom Kha Gai
  • Fried Rice – Khao Pad
  • Spicy Salad – Laab
  • Mango Sticky Rice – Khao Niao Mamuang

What is the best-tasting Thai dish?

The best-tasting Thai dishes are known to be:

  • Flat Noodle Stir Fry – Pad Thai
  • Spicy Green Papaya Salad – Som Tam
  • Thai Green Curry – Gaeng Keow Wan Gai
  • Spicy Salad – Laab
  • Mango Sticky Rice – Khao Niao Mamuang

What are the top 5 foods in Thailand?

The top five foods in Thailand are:

  • Flat Noodle Stir Fry – Pad Thai
  • Spicy Shrimp Soup – Tom Yum Goong
  • Thai Green Curry – Gaeng Keow Wan Gai
  • Fried Rice – Khao Pad
  • Thai Chicken Coconut Soup – Tom Kha Gai

What is a typical Thai meal?

A typical Thai meal usually consists of a variety of proteins including meats and seafood, vegetables that have been stir-fried, made into a salad, or a coconut milk-based curry and rice, or a clear noodle soup.

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