Thai street food in Bangkok
They say you never go hungry when you’re in Thailand because there is always a food cart located in every direction you take. Especially snacks which will satisfy the most savoury or sweet cravings.
This is a bucket list of local favourites that first-timers need to try when in Bangkok.
1. Khao Tom Mat
Image credit: @kanombannkallaya
These are the most common banana leaf-wrapped snacks you’ll find around Thai markets and streets. Khao tom mat comes in a few variations, but the most common fillings are banana and taro with black beans.
Image credit: ร้านเราขายถูก
They are commonly found in markets and are usually eaten as snacks. You still want to eat only a couple at a time, as sticky rice is as filling as a light meal.
Image credit: @baankanom_grandma
The sticky rice mixture smells strongly like a mix between green tea and pandan leaves because they are wrapped and steamed in banana leaves. There is a grilled version called khao niao ping or grilled sticky rice if you prefer a smokier taste. It comes with similar fillings as khao tom mat.
2. Khanom Khrok (Thai Coconut Pancakes)
Note: Most stalls do not have abundant toppings
The vendor pairs two pieces of khanom khrok together and serves them as clam-shaped treats. It’s very similar to takoyaki because it’s grilled on the outside but has a gooey filling. Since it’s made with coconut and rice flour, it tastes doughy and sweet.
Image credit: StarvingTime
There are riceberry versions with a texture very similar to khao lam (sweet sticky rice in bamboo) that you’d want to pair with the original.
There is an alluring coconutty scent if a nearby stall is serving these, so it’s hard to miss them. It is highly recommended that you wait for the vendor to grill a new batch for extra crispiness. As tempting as it is to chomp it all down, don’t eat too fast or you might burn your mouth!
3. Khanom Buang (Thai Crispy Pancake)
Image credit: @akephanphruk
Khanom buang is by far the most well-loved street khanom in Bangkok, you’ll by kicking yourself for not trying it before you leave.
You will be asked by the vendor if you want your khanom buang to be sweet or salty. They have pancakes topped with salty shredded coconut and shallots or sweet foi thong* – don’t worry, you can ask for both.
The salty one has a very unique cross between shredded coconuts and mild onion-like scent from shallots. Foi thong has a stringy, sugary texture very similar to tamago (Japanese egg omelette) but much sweeter. This snack is such a hit that there is even a DIY kit to make your own khanom buang at home.
*foi thong are golden strands made from eggs. It was based on the Portuguese fios de ovos, which was brought over by them during the Ayutthaya period.
Image credit: @tharathipk
Also, there is another version called khanom buang boran or ancient Thai crispy pancakes. This one is not topped with cream and is larger. Some stalls will swap the cream with more shredded coconut, and replace the red salty topping with traditional dried shrimp. Khanom buang boran is not difficult to find, but the cream variant is preferred by many.
Image credit: Cuisine Paradise
You can find these sold in ready-made packets as well, so they are pretty common. However, the ones served by food carts tend to be bigger-sized and it’s hard to beat khanom buang fresh from the grill.
4. Khai Nok Krata (Fried Quail Eggs)
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Khai nok krata is simply fried quail eggs served a nestful with a side of coleslaw. Most carts will add a few dabs of Maggi sauce and lightly season the dish with white pepper.
Quail eggs are to chicken eggs, as cherry tomatoes are to tomatoes – they taste very similar to chicken eggs but with a hint of duck. It’s milder in taste and odour than a chicken egg, and some will tell you that it is more nutritious but slightly fatter than its bigger counterparts.
Finding a stall selling khai nok krata is irregular, so your best bet would be to keep an eye open around marketplaces.
Image credit: @iamjeeja
They use a similar griller like khanom khrok or takoyaki (Japanese octopus balls), so you can easily make them at home as well.
5. Khanom Khai Nok Krata (Fried Sweet Potato Balls)
Image credit: @thipseeskitchen
If this sounds familiar, it’s because Khanom Khai Nok Krata got its name as it looks small and round like quail eggs. When served in a plastic bag or plate, it is bundled like a small bird’s nest.
These balls usually have mung bean fillings inside and are like crispier, more indulgent doughnut holes.
Image credit: @kippysnacks
You will sometimes find purple ones with sweet purple potato filling, and bigger-sized ones covered in sesame. Some carts also sell kluay kaek (banana fritters) alongside khanom khai nok krata.
Make sure you mention khanom (Thai word for “snack” or “dessert”) before the rest of the phrase, otherwise it can get confused with the savoury khai nok krata.
6. Mu Ping (Pork Skewers)
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It is a rite of passage for anyone visiting Thailand to eat mu ping at least once. It tastes different from a barbeque skewer because the pork meat is marinated in spices and coconut milk before being grilled. This gives the meat its tender, greasy taste that, along with the pork fat, makes it incredibly juicy.
Image credit: kinaddhatyai
It’s easy to come across a mu ping cart early in the morning because a lot of people have it as breakfast on the go. It’s also a perfect supper for people returning home from school or work. It is filling for any time of day, whether you like it plain or soaked in dipping sauce.
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Be mindful of the pork fat included on skewers, no matter how tempting it is. These can be eaten but are mainly there to help grill the meat better.
7. Sai Ua (Northern Thai Sausage)
Image credit: Wongnai
Sai ua has a distinct herby taste and the texture is more chewy than a regular sausage from the supermarket.
Image credit: @versathaisauce
You can find them at carts selling “on a stick” foods and sometimes a som tam (green papaya salad) cart. They are served with spicy-sour dipping sauce and complimentary assorted vegetables. It is recommended that you also try them with sticky rice.
Image credit: Thairath
It has a cousin called sai krok Isaan (Isaan sausage) that tastes closer to naem (fermented pork meat) but has a similar look.
8. Khanom Thang Taek
The name thang taek means “broken bucket” and may refer to the snack’s bulky appearance compared to other Thai pancakes. Khanom thang taek is done quick and easy, which may be why it is called Poorman’s Pancake. It is also a term for a broke person; it is cheap but you get a lot compared to other Thai pancakes.
The egg white and topping mixture sits for a few minutes before being scooped out
Shredded coconut, foi thong, and sangkhaya (Thai custard) are the flavours available in most vendors. They are not crispy like khanom buang but spongy like an omelette. The shredded coconut is particularly flaky because it is sprinkled with a mixture of sesame seeds, sugar and salt.
This dessert is also hard to find, so if you find a vendor selling khanom thang taek, jump on the opportunity.
Different ways to taste Thai
Food is one of the first things everyone tries when visiting a new place. It’s always rewarding to find a new favourite dish from a short walk in a market or on the streets.
Remember to not eat the same thing every day, and balance it with other meals. Although, this wouldn’t be a problem since there are so many varieties of food in Bangkok, so we challenge you to try them all.
Check out our other street food articles:
- On-Zon Roti Bangkok Sells Thai-Style Pizza Roti With Gooey Cheese Pulls
- Talay Tord Saladaeng In BKK Sells Delicious And Affordable Fried Seafood Snacks
- Yaowarat Delicious Bread – Grilled Buns Stuffed With Fillings In Chinatown
- 50 Famous Thai Food To Eat In Bangkok Before You Die
- 10 Famous Street Food Stalls In Bangkok That Tourists Have Yet To Discover