Thai food is internationally famous. Whether chili-hot or sugar-sweet, harmony is the guiding principle behind each dish. Thai cuisine is essentially a marriage of centuries-old Eastern and Western influences harmoniously combined into something uniquely Thai. Characteristics of Thai food depend on who cooks it, for whom it is cooked, for what occasion, and where it is cooked. Dishes can be refined and adjusted to suit all palates. Let’s find out top 10 delicious Thai food and where to try them in Hanoi with Eatout!
1. Tom Yum (Spicy Shrimp Soup)
The quintessential Thai aroma! A bold, refreshing blend of fragrant lemongrass, chili, galanga, lime leaves, shallots, lime juice and fish sauce shapes this classic soup, give it its legendary herbal kick. Succulent fresh prawns and straw mushrooms lend its body. A versatile dish that can fit within virtually any meal, the distinctive smell reminds you of exotic perfume, while it’s invigorating sour-spicy-hot taste just screams ‘Thailand’!
2. Som Tum (Spicy papaya salad)
Hailing from the Northeast state of Isaan, this outlandish dish is both great divider – some can’t get enough of its bite, some can’t handle it – and greatly distinctive. Garlic, chilies, green beans, cherry tomatoes and shredded raw papaya get dramatically pulverized in a pestle and mortar, so releasing a rounded sweet, sour and spicy flavour at the same time, that’s not easily forgotten. Regional variations throw peanuts, dry shrimp or salted crab into the mix, the latter having a gut-cleansing talent that catches many newcomers by surprise.
3. Pad Thai (Thai Style Fried Noodle)
Dropped in a searing hot wok, fistfuls of small, thin or wide noodles (you choose) do a steamy minute-long dance alongside crunchy beansprouts, onion and egg, before disembarking for the nearest plate. A truly interactive eating experience, half its fun (and flavour) lies in then using a quartet of accompanying condiments – fish sauce, sugar, chilli powder and finely ground peanuts – to wake it from its slumbers.
4. Khao Pad (Thai Style Fried Rice)
Fried rice, egg, onion, a few herbs – nothing more, nothing less. A popular lunch dish served typically with a wedge of lime and slices of cucumber, the secret of this unpretentious dish lies in the simplicity that it brings to us. The concept is this: you’re the one devouring it, so you dress it. To do so, Thais use everything from prawns, crab or chicken to basil, chili and left-over vegetables, in the process turning an unremarkable food into an incredible dish.
Thailand’s northeast in one rustic dish: laap (also known as larb or larp) takes the form of minced meat seasoned with roasted rice powder, lime juice, fish sauce and fresh herbs. Be sure to eat it with sticky rice, short, fat grains of rice that are steamed and eaten by hand. The spicy meat combines with hot sticky rice will bring up all your senses.
6. Tom Kha Gai (Chicken in Coconut Soup)
A mild, tamer twist on Tom Yum, this iconic soup infuses fiery chilies, thinly sliced young galanga, crushed shallots, stalks of lemongrass and tender strips of chicken. However unlike its more watery cousin, lashings of coconut milk soften its spicy blow. Topped off with fresh lime leaves, it’s a sweet-smelling mixture, both creamy and compelling.
7. Gaeng Daeng (Red Curry)
Made with morsels of meat, red curry paste, smooth coconut milk and topped off with a sprinkling of finely sliced lime leaves, this rich, aromatic curry always gets those taste buds tingling. At its best when the meat is tender, it could be compared to a beautiful woman: it’s mild, sweet and delicately fragrant. And like all true love affairs, absence makes the heart grow fonder.
8. Gai Yang (Thai Style Grill Chicken)
Gai yang is the Thai word for grilled chicken, and throughout Thailand you’ll find many different types of grilled chicken, depending on regional location and also just personal family recipes. But the most common kind is a type of grilled chicken that’s usually cooked using a full chicken, and you’ll find similar tasting grilled chicken throughout Bangkok. Grilled chicken is especially common to eat along with som tam (green papaya salad), and hot fresh sticky rice. With this trio combination, you’ll have an award winning meal that will make your taste buds rejoice!
9. Khao Neow Ma Muang (Mango Sticky Rice)
Heavenly is the only way to describe the classic Thai dessert – Khao Niaow Ma Muang. It’s the most famous of all Thai desserts, and so very scrumptious. Be sure to get the right rice for this dessert: you need sticky rice, also known as ‘sweet rice’. The sticky rice is made it in a pot on the stove. Place some fresh mango slices over the sticky rice and smother with the easy coconut sauce – pure heaven! If you like mango and sticky rice, you’re going to love this exotic Thai dessert.
10. Bua Loy
This is a popular after dinner treat. It calls for mashed, steamed taro mixed with sticky rice flour and shaped into small balls, which are then boiled in water until they float to the top and served in warm coconut milk. The name of this Thai dessert means “floating lotus” and it comes in different colors created from infusions of pandan leaves and mashed pumpkin. The texture of Bua Loy is smooth and soft, which makes it very comforting to eat.
Here are some restaurants in Hanoi for you to try them out:
Address: Tirant Hotel, 38-40 Gia Ngu Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
Opening hours: 9:00 am – 11:00 pm
– Hanoi Ocean House
Address: 12 Hai Ba Trung Street, Hai Ba Trung District, Hanoi
Opening hours: 9:00 am – 11:00 pm
– Rue Des Saux
Address: 11th Floor, Boss Legend Hotel, 21 Hang Thung Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
Opening hours: 6:30 am – 10:00 pm
– Sawasdee Restaurant
Address: 141 Ba Trieu Street, Hai Ba Trung District, Hanoi
Opening hours: 10:00 am – 2:00 pm | 6:00 am – 10:00 pm
– Gusto Thai
Address: 9 Phan Chu Trinh Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
Opening hours: 8:30 am – 10:30 pm