Food Quest: Bangkok

Charles Frederickson

Dr. Charles Frederickson

Dragon fruit is as tasty as it is beautiful.

Thai cuisine features a unique blend of spicy, sour, sweet, and salty tastes. Eclectic, funky food choices range from deep-fried insect larvae to pla rah, pickled fish, to tiny spicy chilies called prik kee nuu, which translated literally means “mouse turds.”

One of the two globally best known Thai menu offerings is Tom Yum Goong: spicy shrimp broth simmered with fragrant herbs, lemon grass, shallots, galangal, kaffir lime, tamarind, and peppers. The other is the even more familiar Pad Thai: stir-fried noodles with egg, fish sauce, tamarind juice, ground chili peppers, bean sprouts, tofu, shrimp with a garnish of crushed peanuts and coriander. Perhaps a more interesting alternative is Pad Kee Mao: spicy stir-fried noodles with Thai basil.

One of my personal favorites is Gaeng Keow Wan Gai, green chicken curry which combines four flavors: green curry chili paste spiciness, coconut milk blandness, sugary sweetness, and fish sauce saltiness.

I also lean toward regional specialties, such as Southern Thai’s Panaeng with pork, chicken or beef red curry cooked in thick coconut cream or Gaeng Massamum, Thai Muslim nutty beef curry.

Northeastern Thai suggestions to accompany sticky rice are Lahb, marinated minced beef, pork or duck served with mint, chili and raw green veggies or Som Tum: zesty papaya salad featuring no fat, low calorie count, and high vitamin content.

Northern Thai gourmet cuisine is often served Kantoke style, including mini-portions of various nam prik chili sauces and such local sausages as sai ua and nham.

Recommended Thai appetizers are Malaysian-style Satay: grilled pork, beef or chicken on skewers with a sauce made of turmeric, curry powder and ground peanuts as well as Tod Mun Goong: deep fried breadcrumb and prawn patties with plum dipping sauce. Topping the kanom dessert list is Kaow Niaw Ma-Muang sweet glutinous rice with ripe mango, topped with coconut cream.

Scene from Bangkok's floating market.

Baan Kanitha Restaurant

A few always reliable, attractively furnished Thai restaurants:

La Na Thai Restaurant and cooking school

The Blue Elephant Restaurant

Aside from delectable Thai restaurants, Bangkok offers a variety of international epicurean options: Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Laotian, Vietnamese, Italian, French, German, and Scandinavian.

Dr. Charles Frederickson is a Swedish/American/Thai vagabond, free Lancelot spirit, “fabstract” artist/poet and international educator/enabler, who has always advocated tolerant multiversity and compassionate humanitarianism during travel and work to 206 countries. He is currently spreading molten feathery wings in his favorite country - Thailand.

Bangkok is famous for its excellent street food. For around $3.00 you can sample two or three courses:

Interested in Thai cooking lesson, but can’t make it to Bangkok this weekend? Click here for the Travel Curious Often cooking school.

Baan Kanitha

Charoen Krung

Gaeng Keow Wan Gai

Gaeng Massamum



Kaow Niaw Ma-Muang



Nam Prik

Pad Kee Mao


Pla rah

Prik kee nuu

Soi Petchaburi

Som Tum


Tod Mun Goong

Tom Yum Goong