Instead of a big family-style meal, Thais love going for one-plate type dishes at a food stall or a food cart on the street.
These type of one-plate dish food stalls are all over the streets of Bangkok – and are available any time of day you are hungry: breakfast, lunch, dinner, or even late at night.
Unlike restaurants, these food stalls only serve one or two types of dishes.
We’ve compiled a list of the best quick one-plate dishes and their history, along with the places you can get them that have been well-loved by Thais for generations.
These street food stalls have proven that they are the best by being around for years and years. They have become household names with Thais for the dishes they make.
Want to eat like Thais? We’re also giving you tips on how to eat each dish like Thais. We guarantee the locals will be very impressed by you.
1. Khao Moo Tod (Fried Pork over Rice)
There is nothing more humble and simple in the list of Thai dishes available as Khao Moo Tod. Slices of pork marinated in soy sauce, garlic, and pepper, then deep fried until it’s an irresistible golden color.
Every Thai has grown up eating this dish. Children love it. Adults love it, and it’s the go-to dish when they can’t think of anything else to order.
How to eat like Thais: Don’t forget to add a fried egg on the side. To really eat like a Thai, if you like more spiciness and saltiness, accompany your plate of Khao Moo Tod with the Thai chili in fish dipping sauce!
1-1. Affordable price but luxurious taste – Jeh Jong Moo Tod (ร้านเจ๊จงหมูทอด)
Auntie Jong (Jae Jong) got the idea for opening her stall from tasting other fried pork.
She told herself ‘I can make it taste better than this’, and over a decade later – she now has 10 branches selling good quality fried pork, and at super cheap prices that attract everyone from the poor to the rich.
Her secret is using good quality pork belly and accompanied with Isan-style hot and spicy dipping sauce. (People love it so much, she has to put the dipping sauce in a big giant bowl on the table)
Don’t be surprised by the long queues. It’s common any time of day, but they are efficient and you won’t have to wait too long to be served.
How to order like a local: Order fried pork over rice, and for extra 10 Baht, you can add another side dishes, which there are plenty to choose from. The best part is that you’ll get unlimited rice refills, vegetables, bananas, and our favorite crispy flour flakes that Thais can just eat by the handful.
If you really need to categorise “Thai Beef Noodles”, you will have 3 categories based on how long the beef is cooked.
1. Sod (fresh) – a quick blanch before serving
2. Peuy (tender) – slow cooked beef
3. Toon (stewed) – melty fall-apart-on-your-fork tender beef
Kuay Teaw Neua Toon has an intense soup infused with a strong beef flavour, due to stewing big chunks of beef for long periods of time with Chinese herbs and spices. Some stalls even cook the beef tendons together with the beef.
How to eat like Thais: Because of the rich goodness of the soup, Thais prefer this dish with soup and rice noodles (flat, small, or vermicelli) instead of egg noodles. You can also order a bowl of rice and Stewed beef and soup without the noodles (called Khao Lao) as an alternative option.
2-1. The soup here is more than 60 years old… We’re not even joking – Wattana Panich (ร้านวัฒนาพานิช)
You read that right. The soup that’s used to stew the beef is a master stock that’s been around for over 60 years.
You might think that it sounds disgusting or downright weird, but it’s actually an ancient Chinese technique for creating complex and ultra flavourful dishes – and don’t worry, there’s a method to preserving the cleanliness and hygiene of the master stock.
According to Wikipedia:
“Master stocks after initial use, are not discarded or turned into a soup or sauce. Instead, the broth is stored and reused in the future as a stock for more poachings sometimes for up to 100 years.
With each use, the poached meats and other ingredients absorb the stock’s flavour while imparting their own back into the stock. Over time, flavour accumulates in the stock, making it richer and more complex with each poaching, while subsequent poached meats absorb this flavour and likewise become more flavourful.”
Since Wattana Panich first opened almost 60 years ago, they have saved their master stock at the end of every night instead of throwing it away.
The next morning, the soup that’s saved is poured back into the pot with a new batch of beef and stewed for over 6 hours. This is a process that has happened over and over, year after year.
It’s really rare to find places that practice this ancient cooking technique of master stocks these days, and at Wattana Panich, you will appreciate the rarity of it.
The combined flavours of beef and Chinese herbs is so intense in the soup, that you can smell the sweet deliciousness even before you see the stall. Just imagine how much better it could be when you taste it.
Not only do they serve melt-in-your-mouth beef, they also serve beef meatballs and beef tendons. (And if anyone likes goat meat, the stewed goat meat is equally delicious!)
How to order like a local: You can’t go wrong with any combination of meat. You can also order a Hot Pot set which comes with stewed beef soup in a hot pot, and a plate of raw meat and vegetables for you to ‘DIY’ your meal!.
3. Goong Ob Woon Sen (Prawn Baked Pot with Vermicelli)
Once only served in upscale Chinese restaurants, now you can find this delicious dish at most food stalls on streets of Thailand.
Vermicelli (glass noodles) seasoned with soy sauce are baked with prawns (or other shellfish for more varieties), Chinese celery and Thai herbs like ginger and galangal – all together in one pot.
Traditionally it is baked in a clay pot to infuse the food with an earthy aroma, but when it’s sold through food stalls on the street, you’ll see it cooked in an aluminum pot blasted with high heat.
How to eat like Thais: With rice and without rice, it’s totally up to you. You can easily get full from this dish alone. A good Koong Ob Woon Sen should have well-balanced flavours with no other condiments needed, except seafood sauce to dip the prawns in. Warning!! Skip the pork fat and slices of ginger on the bottom of the pot. Thais don’t eat those.
3-1. Unbelievable restaurant quality from a street food cart – Somsak Pu Ob (ร้านสมศักดิ์ปูอบ)
Don’t let the look of this small and simple food cart fool you. Even though it’s on a street, the taste and quality are on par with any big fancy restaurant.
For over 30 years, Somsak Pu Ob has been luring locals with its intoxicating aroma and the top notch big sized fresh seafood. Here you can witness the chef paying close attention to the food served by cooking only 3-4 pots at a time to ensure every pot comes out perfectly.
It’s so good that locals are willing to wait in queue, sometimes almost up to 2 hours just to get a taste of this delicious dish.
Somsak Pu Ob now has 3 branches in close proximity to each other.
How to order like a local: We recommend ordering 2 pots right from the beginning because you won’t be able to resist having just one. Not only can you order prawns, you can also try it with crab. The menu is also in English.
4. Pad Thai (Thai Stir Fried Noodles)
You’ve definitely heard of the most famous Thai dish of all time, Pad Thai. This classic dish introduced the world to the complexity and balance of all the Thai flavours in one wholesome dish.
Nearly 70 years ago during WWII, the Thai government had a plan to unify the whole country which resulted in the creation of this dish. Adapting Chinese stir fried rice noodles by eliminating the use of pork and adding Thai flavors such as tamarind, palm sugar, and chillies – and then giving it a unique name to promote Thai patriotism… Et Voila! Pad Thai was born.
Now, Pad Thai has become the national dish of Thailand.
Did you know, traditionally the dish doesn’t have any meat other than dried preserved shrimp? Now however, Pad Thai has come very far through the reinvention and imagination of locals – which is why you’ll find many varieties of Pad Thai on the menu.
How to eat like Thais: The dish is served with bean sprouts, a slice of lime, chives, and a spoonful of crushed peanuts on the side. You are expected to squeeze the lime over the dish and add sugar, chillies, and/or fish sauce to your liking.
4-1. It’s a shrimp flavour overload – Thip Sa Mai Pad Thai
You know when there are other food stalls that keep opening and selling the same dish as this stall in the same area – that’s when you know that particular stall is really famous.
Thip Sa Mai opened its doors over 50 years ago in Pra Tu Phi (Ghost Gate) area in Bangkok. It’s famous to the extent that locals have nicknamed it “Pad Thai Pra Tu Phi”. Since then, many Pad Thai stalls have opened up nearby in hopes to get some confused customers who come to seek Pad Thai Pra Tu Phi.
So if you hear people refer to “Pad Thai Pra Tu Phi”, they are talking about the one and only Thip Sa Mai Pad Thai.
Thip Sa Mai’s flavour emphasises on the shrimp. The secret ingredient is mixing shrimp paste in Pad Thai, hence, a vibrant orange color of the dish like no others.
It’s really rare to find places that practice this ancient cooking technique of master stocks these days, and at Wattana Panich, you will appreciate the rarity of it.
How to order like a local: There are 8 options of Pad Thai to choose from. The most popular item is Pad Thai with shrimp paste wrapped in egg omelette! #nowyouknow
4-2. Have street food with a spectacular show – Hia Dum Pad Thai Fai Look (Blazing Pad Thai) เฮียดำ ผัดไทยไฟลุก
Talking about a good food with a show. Mr Dum of Blazing Pad Thai will give you a high octane show.
Locals and tourists have been coming to this little food hall opening at night for the past 30 years and it has won many awards for the best Pad Thai in Thailand.
The signature of Mr. Dum’s Pad Thai is Flambé. The blazing flame not only gives you a spectacular show, but also adds extra smokiness to the dish that makes it so irresistible.
(Other than the Pad Thai, Hia Dum Pad Thai also serves other one-plate dishes on the menu.)
How to order like a local: Point at the picture of the dish to order. Besides traditional Pad Thai with shrimp which uses rice noodles, you can also try Woon-Sen Pad Thai which uses cellophane noodles instead.
5. Hoi Tod (Crispy Mussel Pancake)
Reinvented from the Chinese oyster omelette, Hoi Tod is usually sold with Pad Thai at street food stalls (maybe because it uses the same flat pan?).
Hoi Tod food carts are often associated with night markets. Wherever there is a night market open from dusk till dawn, you can be guarantee to find a Hoi Tod food cart cooking and serving through the night.
How to eat like Thais: Thais eat Hoi Tod that’s very crispy and served with a topping of flash fried beansprouts, with chilli vinegar hot sauce (the orange color looking sauce) as the dipping sauce.
5-1. Surrender to the King of shellfish – Daeng Racha Hoi Tod (แดงราชาหอยทอด)
Huge and good quality shellfish are what you can count on when you come here.
Mr Daeng, the fourth generation owner, moved his family’s Hoi Tod stall to this location almost 50 years ago – and before that, the generations before him that started the legacy had kept it open for more than 80 years.
Altogether, this Racha Hoi Tod’s been around for over 100 years. Daeng Racha Hoi Tod serves both mussels and oysters pancake.
Most Hoi Tod stalls usually open for dinner or late night but Daeng Racha Hoi Tod opens early in the morning and believe it or not, the mussel pancake is often sold out before noon. So get there early to avoid disappointment.
How to order like a local: You can order Hoi Tod with just mussels or a combination of mussels and oysters!
5-2. Try for yourself the crispiest batter in Bangkok – Sawasdee Hoi Tod Rachawat (หอยทอดสวัสดี ราชวัตร)
The secret that makes Sawasdee a go-to place for Hoi Tod is in the batter. For almost 50 years the owner, Auntie Samorn, created the special batter that when cooked, comes out super crispy.
She also pays attention to having only quality ingredients in the dish, from using female mussels which she says tastes better, to only specific type of chillies to make the accompanying sauce.
Sawasdee Hoi Tod also has oyster omelette (soft or crispy) served in a smoking hot plate, and Pad Thai with fresh shrimp which are equally delicious.
How to order like a local: If you order Hoi Tod, you’ll get the traditional mussel pancake. If you order Hot Plate, you’ll get the oyster dish.
6. Khao-Kha-Moo (Braised Pork Trotter over Rice)
With the use of the cheapest cut of pig, Thais have turned it into a million dollar dish. The whole pork leg is braised for hours with Chinese herbs and spices until the fat has melted and the meat falls off the bone. The dish is usually served over rice, with a side of hard- boiled egg and pickled green mustard.
The most sought after part of the dish is the ‘trotter’ (Kha-Ki). This crunchy delicacy usually runs out fast.
How to eat like Thais: Use chilli vinegar as a dipping sauce to balance out the fatty taste, along with cloves of garlic, and green Thai chillies.
To be considered a perfect Khao Kha Moo, the meat has to be tender but not greasy. Read on for these two stalls that have proven their dishes are the best for years!
6-1. Enjoy the whole pig trotter – Charoen Saeng Silom (ข้าวขาหมูเจริญแสงสีลม เลิดสิน)
Mr. Bancha, the owner and master behind this legendary food stall is still using the same recipe for over 50 years.
What makes people keep coming back to Charoen Saeng Silom is the size of pig trotter (2kg) and it’s very unique taste unlike others.
Mr Bancha, himself cooks the leg in the evening before for 4 hours, and again in the morning. The tenderness of the meat is guaranteed every time you enjoy the freshly-cooked dishes at this place.
How to order like a local: Instead of over rice, they serve each part of pork on separate plates: meat with skin, trotter, pig innards, or even the whole leg. (The trotter is sold out as quickly as the first few hours after opening!)
6-2. Trotter galore for pork trotters’ lovers – Kha Moo Tee Sam (ขาหมูตีสาม)
If you stroll along Yaowarat, look for a stall with glistening trotters stacked high on the edge of a huge brass pan. Believe it or not, there can be as many as 50 succulent trotters in one pan.
First opened over 30 years ago, this food stall was opened at 3am after all other stalls closed, and without an official name. So its loyal customers have nicknamed it “Khao Moo Tee Sam” which means “3am Pork Leg”.
Luckily for us, the stall has become very popular. Now it opens 24 hours. So you can come down whenever you’re in the mood for a good tender trotter.
They still use the same recipe after all these years, even the same brand of soy sauce. The soup here is soy sauce-based. It’s perfect for anyone who doesn’t like too much Chinese spice flavour.
How to order like a local: You can order either over rice or just meat on a plate with a separate plate of rice.
7. Kuay Teaw Moo Tom Yum (Spicy Tom Yum Pork Noodles)
Spicy Pork Tom Yum Noodles is an AMPED-UP noodle bowl with well-balanced favourite Thai flavours; spicy, sweet, salty, sour, and zesty.
Pork Tom Yum Noodles is every Thais’ favourite dish. Consisting of seasoned ground pork, slices of pork liver, a couple of pork meatballs or fishballs – it wouldn’t be Pork Tom Yum Noodles without a handful of crushed peanuts too.
How to eat like Thais: Order “Hang Cham-Num Cham”, a phrase that Thais use to order 2 bowls of noodles at the same time. One bowl with soup (“Num”, which means ‘wet’), and one without soup (“Hang”, which means ‘dry’). This way you can enjoy two different styles of noodles!
7-1. Bangkok’s famous Tom Yum Pork Noodles – Roong Rueng (ร้าน รุ่งเรืองก๋วยเตี๋ยวหมู)
For over 50 years, Roong Rueng has proven to be one of the best noodle spots in Bangkok. Going on to the 2nd generation of cooks, they still stick with the one and only thing on the menu, Noodle Soup.
Their soup is so fragrant and flavourful, Roong Rueng is famous for fresh and good quality toppings – especially big clusters of peppery ground pork that everyone keeps talking about.
How to order like a local: This place is extremely popular among Thais and foreigners, that the menu comes in 5 different languages (Thai, English, Japanese, Chinese, and Korean). Pick your choice of noodle, type of soup, and the toppings – and most importantly, don’t forget a plate of deep-fried fish skin.
7-2. Oozing onsen eggs in Tom Yum Noodles – Ko Boo Rod Zing Noodle (ร้านโกบู้รสซิ่ง)
Auntie Tang, the owner, reveals her secret on how she has kept this noodle stall open for almost 50 years and has since expanded to 4 more branches all over Bangkok.
Her secret is not just the fresh ingredients but she also puts her love and care into every bowl of noodles she makes. She even remembers how her long time regulars like their noodles.
She was the first to put two perfectly soft-boiled eggs in Tom yum noodles, along with Thai chili. It has become the signature dish of Ko Boo Rod Zing
How to order like a local: After you choose a type of noodle, soup, and topping, you can also choose the level of spiciness you prefer. Be warned, the maximum level of spiciness is really hot.
8. Khao Moo Daeng (Red Barbecued Pork Over Rice)
During the Chinese migration on World War II, Thais were introduced to Char Siu, the Chinese barbequed pork. Thais fell in love with it and have been eating this delicious red dish ever since.
How to eat like Thais: Besides BBQ pork piled on top of rice, Thais also add Chinese sausage, hard-boiled egg, slices of cucumber, and thick sweet red gravy on top. Often you’ll see stalks of green onion in a cup on the table. That’s not for decoration but for eating with Kho Moo Daeng with sweet dark soy sauce as a dipping sauce.
8-1. Can’t leave Bangkok without eating this legendary charcoal BBQ pork – SeeMorakot (ร้านข้าวหมูแดง สีมรกต)
SeeMorakot has been serving red BBQ pork in Yaowarat for over 70 years. Mr. Wallop, the 2nd generation owner, has never changed the method of cooking pork.
The pork is very slowly cooked over an open flame to ensure its tenderness, while using charcoal for that smoky aroma. SeeMorakot cooks almost 100kg of pork each day and it still sells out every day!
How to order like a local: Order “Pi-Set” which mean “Special” in Thai (120 Baht / USD $3), to get a generous tender pork loin cut and every topping available in one plate.
8-2. Succulent pork and sweet red gravy – Sunee Khao Moo Daeng (สุณีข้าวหมูแดง)
Located in a fresh market near the railroad track, this is as close as you’ll get to experiencing raw Thai culture.
Auntie Sunee started Sunee Khao Moo Daeng over 50 years ago. She uses the sirloin cut which provides a lot of meat and less fat for their BBQ pork. She even makes Chinese sausages by hand. Even though her son has since taken over, she still continues to make sure the food quality is up to her standards.
What keeps people coming back is their signature red gravy. The secret ingredient is extremely simple – ground toasted white sesame seeds. It makes the gravy extra thick and exudes the fragrance of toasted sesame seeds.
How to order like a local: Simply order “Khao Moo Daeng”, it’ll come with the meat trio – BBQ pork, crispy pork belly, and Chinese sausages!
8-3. You won’t believe the size of this BBQ Pork – Khao Moo Daeng Son Tod (ข้าวหมูแดง สนทศ)
Deliciousness comes in a big size at Khao Moo Daeng Son Tod. While other stalls may slice the pork in bite sizes, Khao Moo Daeng Son Tod slices it in huge chucks so you get absatisfying mouthful in every bite.