The question I get the most, apart from what will you cook for me, when I was studying aboard was "How Do I order street food"? "What is there to eat?" "Is it safe to eat?"...
Plus, I have seen many foreigners wandering around street food stands and struggling with ordering or asking about what they want. This gave me the idea to write this article and help foreigners to enjoy their experience in Thailand.
Street food has uncountable number of foods and they are everywhere in Thailand. There are, made to order, noodles, cooked foods, fresh foods, sweets, and drinks... So I will stick with the simplest things so if you read this, and print it, and bring it with you, you will be able to order most kinds of food you would like to taste.
To say you don't want something in your food.
English = Thai
I don't want = Mai Ao (the name of the thing)
MSG (Monosodium glutamate) = Phong Chū Rot
Peanut = Thū Li Song
Shellfish = Ā Hān Thalē
Can't eat it = Kin Mai Dai
Allergy to = Phaē
I/me = Chan
- To say that you don't want MSG in your food, you may say; Mai Ao Phong Chū Rot Krab/Ka
- To say that you don't want shellfish in your food, you may say; Mai Ao Ā Hān Thalē Na Krab/Ka
To say may I get this for one (dish)
Ao/Khø _____ (followed by the name of the dish you would like to order/or just point at it) Neung Jan Krub/Ka
English = Thai
Dish = Jan
Bowl = Tuay
Stick = Māi
Piece = Chin/An/Haw
Cup/Glass = Kaēo
Bottle = Khūat
Tray = Thāt
One whole body = Tua
**And one last thing about buying fruit, in Thailand we don't sell it by the piece but by the kilogram**
Kilogram = Ki Lo
At some "fruit carts" you can by pre-cut, ready to eat fruit. There you may use the following words;
Pack = Toong
Fruit (coconut/mango) = Luk
From all units I gave you above, you can just replace the word with 'Jan' in the sample sentence "Ao/Khø _____ Neung Jan Krub/Ka"
English = Thai
Noodle = Kuay Tīo
**Point of interest about noodles,
There are different kinds of noodles for you to enjoy at Thai noodle stands. Sen Yai is the large strip of rice flower noodles. Sen Lak is the middle strip of rice flour noodles (these noodles are often used in Pad Thai). Sen Mī is the thread rice flour noodles. Lastly, Sen Ba Mī is the chinese vermicelli noodles.
You can choose not only the noodles to enjoy, but also the broth you want too. Nām Sai, is clear soup. Nām Tok is the soup that has pork blood. Tom Yum will have crushed peanuts, dried chilli flakes and lime juice. For Tom Yum type, you can order with soup in it or without (so it would be more or less like Pad Thai, dry noodles). To order Tom Yum without soup, you may say; Ao/Khø Kuay Tīo Tom Yum Haeng Neung Thuay Krab/Ka
This really depends on what the stand can offer. However, most places will have these things in house.
English = Thai
Beef balls = Luk Chin Neūa
Pork balls = Luk Chin Mū
Fish balls = Luk Chin Pla
Beef = Neūa Sod
Long cooked beef = Neūa Peūay
Pork = Mū Sod
- If you want to get large strip rice flour noodles and clear soup with pork balls, you may say; Ao/Khø Kuay Tīo San Yai Nām Sai Luk Chin Moo Neung Thuay Krab/Ka
The following words are numbers in thai, in case you are really hungry or come with a load of friends and would like to order more than one dish.
English = writing = Thai
Half = 0.5 = Khreung
One = 1 =Neung
Two = 2 = Søng
Tree = 3 = Sām
Four = 4 = Sī
Five = 5 = Hā
Six = 6 = Hok
Seven = 7 = Jet
Eight = 8 = Paēt
Nine = 9 = Kao
Ten = 10 = Sip
- If you want to order Pad Thai for three, you may say; Ao/Khø Pad Thai Sām Jan Krub/Ka
- If you want to order fresh Soy milk for two, you may say; Ao/Khø Nām Tao Hū Søng Thung(for takeaway)/Kaēo(cup)/Thuay(bowl) Krub/Ka
Many people think that Thai food = spicy/hot/burn! But there are also Thai foods that are not spicy/hot/burn. However, if you want to make sure that you will not get food that is so spicy you cannot handle or cannot enjoy, the following words may help
- If you want to order not spicy Papaya salad, you may say; Ao/Khø Som Tam (Kind of Som Tam) Mai Phet Neung Jan Krub/Ka
- If you want to order very spicy Tom Yum with chicken, you may say; Ao/Khø Tom Yum Gai Phet Phet Neung Thuay Krub/Ka
English = Thai
Chicken = Gai
Fish = Plā
Pork = Mū
Beef = Neūa
Egg = Khai
Vegetable = Phak
White rice = Khāo Sūay
**Point of interest Papaya salad
There are a number of kinds of Som Tam. And these are the most classic Som Tam that most stands/restaurants will have in house;
- Som Tam Thai is usually not spicy when compares to another type. It has crushed peanuts, dried wee shrimp, tastes more sweet and sour.
- Som Tam Pu is a little bit salty because of pickled crab. It is not too spicy.
- Som Tam Pu Pla La is salty and very spicy. It has pickled crab and fish.
- If you want to order a little bit spicy pickled crab dressing papaya salad with one pack of sticky rice and half a grilled chicken, you may say;
Ao/Khø Som Tam Pu Phet Nid Nui Gab Khao Nīo Neung Haw Gab Gai Yāng Kreung Tua Krab/Ka
Foreigners like to get fresh fruit drinks or shakes or Thai lime ice tea or coffee. Thailand is the place where drinks are very sugary. Not sweet by Thai standards is very sweet by western standards. It is like having a cup-cake in the drink. You may give it a try and just order the drink regular and if the shop/stand is really Thai, you will probably get the sweet drink. (If you like sugary drinks, you are now in the right place).
- If you want to order Thai lime ice tea with less or without sugar/sweet, you may say; Ao/Khō Cha Ma Now Yen Mai Wan Neung Kaēo Krab/Ka
- If you want to get an iced cappuccino not so sweet for 2, you may say, Ao/Khō cappuccino Yen Mai Wan Mak Søng Kaēo Krab/Ka
- If you want to get a hot latte without sugar, you may say; Ao/Khō latte Røn Mai Sai Nam Tan Neung Kaēo Krab/Ka
This is the land of fresh tasty fruits. Some are dreamy and some are strange. And as I mentioned above, here in Thailand, in the markets they sale by the Kilogram. So let's learn some fruit names first.
English = Thai
Mango = Ma Mūang
Banana = Glūay
Coconut = Ma Phrāo
Dragon fruit = Kaēo Mang Køn
Pomegranate = Thap Thim
Passion fruit = Sawalot
Lychee = Lin Jī
Rambutan = Ngao
Jackfruit = Kha Nun
Durian = Tu Rīen
Pomelo = Som Ō
Orange = Som
Mangosteen = Mang Knut
Grape = A Neun
Pineapple = Sap Pa Rot
Water melon = Tang Mō
- If you want to get Rambutan for two kilograms, you may say; Ao/Khō Ngaio Søng Ki Lo Krab/Kra
However, with banana they will sell by the bunch. So if you want to get one bunch of bananas, you may say; Ao/Khō Glūay Neung Wī
Or some fruit that are quite big like pomelo, coconut, water melon or durian they might sell the whole piece.
And to ask how much is it =
An Nī Thao Rai Krab/Ka
And when you get your food you say
Thank you = Khøp Khun Krab/Ka :)
I hope this article will be useful for everyone who is coming to Thailand and would like to communicate with the people at the stands in order to get the right food, be nice, and get the best experience you can by speaking Thai. One thing I would like to let you all, foreigners, know is that you shouldn't be afraid to speak Thai. We all have different mother languages. Most importantly, Thai people will adore you if you try to speak Thai with them. (Just like most people that I have spoken English with, with my thick accent, still understand me) Hope you enjoy the food and your stay. If you have any further questions, please leave a comment below.
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