Ever stand in front of a noodle shop, feel hungry but have to turn away because you don’t know how to order one? That’s a pity. Noodles are really yummy and are a must-try street food in Thailand. Anyway we understand the challenges you face. So, noodle newbies, heed this!
**When you’re in Thailand, you may find several more kinds of noodles which aren’t mentioned here. In this blog, we only talk about Chinese and fushioned Thai-Chinese noodle dishes. There is also Thai noodle which we called khanom chin. It’s served with Thai soup and curry and is significantly different from Chinese noodles.
‘Kway teow’ is a Hokkien Chinese word which is noodles in Thai. A noodle shop usually serves only one or two kinds of meat. The first thing you got to ask is what kind of meat they offer: moo (pork), nuea (beef), gai (chicken), pbed (duck), bpla (fish), tha lay (seafood) or krueang nai (offal, usually of pigs). A dish also comes with meatballs, and sometimes luead (congealed blood, usually of pig or duck) Typical ingredients and garnishing vegetables are bean sprout, coriander, garlic, spring onion, and lettuce.
Step 2 to Order Noodle Dish –> What Type of Dish Do You Want?
Now, how do you like the dish cooked? This defines the seasoning ingredients that go in it. 1) kway teow nam sai is a clear and rather plain noodle soup of chicken, beef, or pork stock. 2) kway teow tom yam takes the clear stock but adds sweet chili paste, chili powder, lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, crushed peanuts to it. Usually the dish is available with pork, fish, or seafood. 3) yen ta foe (yong tau foo in Chinese) is a pink noodle dish whose color comes from preserved red bean curd sauce or ketchup. Mildly sweet and sour, it’s available with fish and shrimp balls, tofu, squid, and morning glory. 4) kway teow nam tok or kway teow ruea is a pig or cow blood noodle soup.
Apart from these, there are 5) kway teow rahd na which is your choice of noodle type soaked in gravy sauce, and 6) kway jab, rolled up rice noodles with crispy pork belly, egg, congealed blood, and pig intestines. Kway jab is available in clear stock and in spiced-soup which yields a dark brown color.
Try to Say It: When you order, you can leave out the word kway teow (obviously that’s what you’re getting) So you just say nam tok moo, tom yam tha lay, and so on.
Step 3 to Order Noodle Dish –> Do You Want Soup or Dry?
Say if you want a noodle soup, and haeng if you want it dry. For a dry noodle, all ingredients are cooked in stock but served dry. The restaurant may offer a separate bowl of soup.
Try to Say It: nam tok moo haeng / yen ta foe nam
Step 4 to Order Noodle Dish –> Choose a Type of Noodle
There are 5 types of noodles in general. But you can also get a dish with everything else but the noodle itself. The dish is called gao lao which is usually eaten with steamed rice.
Step 5 to Order Noodle Dish –> Season It Up
Like your noodle salty, sour, sweet, or hotter? Explore the condiment set on the table. Typical condiment in a noodle shop includes roasted and ground chili, chillies in vinegar or a lime-based chili sauce, fish sauce, and sugar.
With this brief guide, we hope you can dive further into Thai street food scene and enjoy a culinary adventure more! Or let a local food expert like us guide you through. Noodles are featured in several of our tours. Feeling hungry now? Check out what you can do for your next meal!