“Hey! We are getting Thai tonight, but I always order the same thing, Pineapple Fried Rice. I want to try something else, but don’t know what’s good. What should I order??” One of my dearest old friends texted me the other day.
I totally get that! Because she likes Pineapple Fried Rice, so what if she branches out, and wastes her Thai night getting something that isn’t that great?
And how does she know what’s good because when I read descriptions of Thai dishes at Thai restaurants in America, I usually heave a big sigh.
Then I frantically want to find whoever in the restaurant wrote the menus, and say, “Could I give you a little tip? How about instead of describing Tom Yum Goong as “Shrimp, tomato, lemongrass soup,” try out:
“Tom Yum Goong: “Beloved soup of all Thais, packed with all the spicy, sour Thai flavors you love, and full of citrusy Thai herbs like lemongrass, kaffir lime and galangal, plus fresh tomatoes, white mushrooms and jumbo shrimp!”
Maybe it’s the writer in me, but I seriously do want to revise almost every Thai menu I find at American restaurants to help the Thai dishes Americans haven’t heard of get the credit they deserve.
I asked my friend to send me the menu from her Thai restaurant, and shared some of the not as well known Thai dishes that I love. Every Thai restaurant is different, but most will probably have some version of these, and if yours doesn’t, find a Thai restaurant that does and get it ASAP!
After reading Som Tum’s typical , description on a menu, a Thai salad made of unripe papaya, it might make you raise your eyebrows a bit and quickly skip by it as you search for Pad Thai.
But don’t skip it!! It has all your fav Thai flavors in one dish: spicy, sour, savory, umami, and a hint of sweetness. I adore the crunchy peanuts and how the crisp papaya, soaks up the lime, fish sauce, tamarind, garlic and Thai chili peppers.
Plus, adorable baby tomatoes? And a Thai version of a green bean? Wow! It matches perfectly with sticky rice, and you must try it today if you savor Thai flavors!
If it’s summer time, once a week I’ll be making larb, full of fresh herbs from our backyard garden. I often order it at Thai restaurants too because I can’t get enough of it. I love how it’s from Issan, the northeastern area of Thailand where soooo many of my favorite flavorful and spicy Thai dishes come from there.
You’ll love how the freshness of the cilantro, mint and green onion is paired up with a Thai flavor trifecta from the sour lime, umami packed roasted rice powder, and spicy roasted Thai chili flakes. It’s also served with sticky rice, which balances all out all those flavors perfectly.
Cold winter day and in need of a cozy heart-warming dish? Lad Nah or Rad Na, is at the top of my list. I feel like it’s the Thai version of chicken n dumplins’, with the wide, tender, rice noodles, thick gravy, crisp greens, and tender pork.
Plus you can give it a spicy zing by adding roasted Thai chili flakes, or leave as is if you aren’t into that. Give it a shot!
Whenever my Thai Hubby and I eat out at Thai restaurants, I adore ordering deep fried fish because I haven’t gotten the courage yet to fry an entire fish, head, eyes, tail, everything, like Thais do it.
Oh, but that crispy skin, paired with the soft, flaky fish and the zingy, spicy sauce on top?! Every bite is like entering a magical texture and flavor wonderland! So of course I’m ordering it!
I’m sure one day I will make it at home, but at the moment, I love having it made for me at Thai restaurants, savoring every bite by closing my eyes and breathing deep all the things. Soooo good!
I’ll never forget watching the sunset over the Adaman Sea, while sitting under a white tent at a table for two and gazing at my handsome Thai Hubby.
My toes snuggled into the white sand at my feet as I scooped up the perfect bite of sunshine yellow crab curry, aka Pad Phong Karee, onto my large spoon. How my heart thrilled as I tasted the turmeric, curry, crab, egg and green onion, so creamy and heart-warming!
That’s my memory of Pad Phong Karee, and obviously why I want to relive that dish any Thai restaurant we go to!
At home I usually use shrimp because it’s easier to find and work with, so that’s why I like to treat myself, and get it with crab if I see it on a menu. So you should too!
Let me know if there are any other Thai dishes you want to know more about before you try them at your favorite Thai place. The best place to reach me is to DM me at Instagram @thaifoodie!