Eating in Bangkok Thailand Thailand Travel Travel

How To Order Thai Street Food – A Beginners Guide

Thailand is famous for street food, it’s one of the main reasons for the large number of tourists that flock to the county each year. We know, however, that it can be a daunting task trying to order food in Thailand when you don’t speak the language so we’ve put together a list of useful Thai words to get you started on your Thai street food adventure.

Let’s start with ‘I want’ as this will be your most used word – ow, as in ‘ow, that hurt!’. Don’t forget to add khap/ka on the end (khap for a man, ka for a woman) to make it polite.

The next word which you should know is mai – no. Add this to ow if you don’t want something:

Mai ow khap/ka – I don’t want it thank you. This can also be used to great effect when someone is trying to sell you something!

The third word you need to know is nee – this. You can use it at the end of ow or mai ow:

Ow nee khap/ka – I want this please.

Mai ow nee khap/ka – I don’t want this.

These three words will get you through 90% of your street food ordering when you’re starting out. Just point and say ‘I want this’, ‘I don’t want that!’

When you’re ready to move on and up your Thai ordering game, you can refer to our list of popular Thai dishes below:

Noodle Soup:

Thai beef noodle soup.

When it comes to noodle soup, you can structure it to suit your own taste. You pick your meat then your noodle thickness.

Kuay teow – Noodle soup

Nam sai – clear soup

Tom yum – Sour and spicy soup with peanuts

Nam Tok – Soup with blood

Moo – Pork

Gai – Chicken

Beef –  Nuea

Sen yai – wide rice noodles.

Sen lek – thin rice noodles

Sem mee – Vermicelli rice noodles.

Sen bamee – egg noodles.

Nam – Soup.

Haeng – Dry.

Look chin: Processed meat balls (this is where I use the mai ow the most!)

Here’s an example of ordering a standard noodle soup:

Ow kuay teow moo, sen lek khap – I want pork noodle soup with thin rice noodles please.

Kuay Teow Moo Sen Lek – Mixed Pork Noodle Soup.

All noodle soup shops will have chopsticks (ta-geeab) and spoons (chaawn) but if you can use chopsticks, you can ask for a fork by saying ow sorm (pronounced a bit like some).

Popular stir fried dishes:

Pad Kapow moo/gai/nuea – Stir fried pork/chicken/beef with holy basil.

Pad Thai – Thai style fried noodles.

Pad see ew – Fried wide rice noodles in soy sauce.

Pad cha talay/gai/moo – Stir fried seafood/chicken/pork with Thai herbs.

Khao pad gai/moo – Fried rice with chicken/pork.

Gai pad med mamuang – Stir fried chicken with cashew nuts.

Kuay teow kua gai – Fried wide rice noodles with chicken

Pad prik gaeng gai/moo: Stir fried chicken/pork in curry paste.

Pad See-Ew – Fried Wide Rice Noodles.

They’re going to want to know if you can eat spicy food here so you’ll need to know these two phrases:

Gin ped dai – I can eat spicy food.

Gin ped mai dai – I can’t eat spicy food.

Gin ped nit noi – I can eat a little bit of spice!

Grilled meat dishes:

Moo Ping- Grilled Pork Skewers.

Gai yang – Grilled chicken

Moo ping – Grilled pork skewers

Kor Moo Yang – Grilled marinated pork neck (shoulder).

Moo Satay – Grilled Pork with Peanut Sauce.
So now you’ve ordered and eaten your food, you’ll want to wrap up proceedings:

Kep tang khap/ka – can I have the bill please (formal)

Check bin khap/ka – can I have the bill please (informal)

Aroi mak (a-loy in Bangkok) – very delicious (this always goes down well!)

Imm mak – I’m very full!

Now you know how to order, make sure you check out our guide to street food in Bangkok so you know where to put your new found skills into practise!

(4) Comments

  1. Wrong way round: kep (sa-) tang is informal, check bin formal.

    1. The Roaming Cook says:

      Thanks for pointing this out! My Thai friends don’t agree with each other on this. Some say it’s formal, some say it’s not. I probably should have written old and modern instead of formal and informal?

  2. Thanks for this….it’s the pronunciation where I struggle, especially when trying a new word.

    1. The Roaming Cook says:

      I’m glad you like it! Practise makes perfect, I was terrible when I started (some might argue I still am). I might do a video to go with it…

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