Posted by: gloowhyinthai | August 17, 2012

Food Guide to the Average Chiang Mai Restaurant

A little lesson in Ahan Thai – Thai Food

This is dedicated to the Thai-illiterate and the gastronomically-dissatisfied; for every insatiable soul who picks sadly at their fried rice and pad Thai at every meal.

Let me first acknowledge that this is hardly all there is;  there are a million and one websites you can find outlining the wider variety treats to be tried – this is limited to my local lunch menu. I’m making guide this for the incoming volunteer, based on the menu at the shop around the corner from BEAM (on See Ping Mueang Soi 4, next to the D-Milk!). But you can apply it to any and every 25-30 baht restaurant you visit – you can likely get all of these anywhere.  So forgive my transliterations, and let’s proceed.

The #1 perk of reading Thai: I can order anything! Not that I always know what I’m going to get…

When the woman making food asks you “Ow ah-rai ka?” เอาอะไรคะ (Want + What = What do you want?)….

Anything that’s not noodles or a yam ยำ (salad) will be served lad khao ราดข้าว (over rice)

First, choose your dish:

menu, column one:

 Khao Pad ข้าวผัด – Fried Rice (literally: rice + stir fry)

Khao Dtom ข้าวต้ม – Rice Soup (Gruel); more watery and less savory than Jok โจ๊ก (Jok is my favorite sick food!) 

 Khao Kai Jeeow ข้าวไข่เจียว – Rice with an Egg Omelet on top (literally: rice + egg + fry in oil/make omelet)

 Pad Pak Ruam ผัดผักรวม – Stir-Fried Mixed Vegetables (literally: stir fry + vegetables + mix)

Pad Grapow ผัดกะเพรา – Stir-Fried with Basil and Chilies; best with a fried egg on top! (literally: stir fry + basil)

 Pad Pak Boong ผัดผักบุ้ง – Stir-Fried Morning Glory (also known as Water Cress, also known as the most delicious vegetable ever)

 Pad Kana ผัดคะน้า – Stir-Fried Chinese Kale, usually with oyster sauce/ Namman Hoy น้ำมันหอย (popular with Mu Grawb – as seen here)

Pad Dawk-ga-lam ผัดดอกกะหล่ำ – Stir Fried Cauliflower, usually with oyster sauce (and other veggies too!)

 Pad Breeow Wan ผัดเปรี้ยวหวาน – Stir Fry in tangy red Sweet and Sour Sauce (literally: stir fry + sour + sweet)

menu, column two:

 Pad Prik Sohd ผัดพริกสด – Stir Fry with Fresh Chili, served with bell peppers, and onions (literally: stir fry + chili + fresh)

Pad Prik Gaeng ผัดพริกแกง – Stir Fry with Chili and Red Curry Paste, with long beans and eggplant

 Pad Prik Pow ผัดพริกเผา – Stir Fry with Roasted Chili Paste with Tamarind (spicier and delicious!)

 Pad Penang ผัดพะแนง – Stir Fry with Penang Curry, a sweeter, milder curry with coconut milk

Pad Pong Ga-ree ผัดผงกะหรี่ – Stir Fry with Yellow Curry Powder, a sweeter, Indian-based curry

Pad King ผัดขิง – Stir Fry with Ginger, especially yummy for an upset tummy!

Pad Kee Mao ผัดขี้เมา – Stir Fry with Chili and Basil (literally: stir fry + drunk! – this spicy dish is known to cure a hangover)

Pad Naem Sai Kai ผัดแหนมใส่ไข่ – Stir Fried Fermented Raw Pork Sausage (aaaah-mazing) and Egg

Pad Hed Fang ผัดเห็ดฟาง – Stir Fried Straw Mushrooms

menu, column three:

Pad Mama ผัดมาม่า – Stir Fried Mama Instant Noodles (Ramen style)

Pad Thai ผัดไทย – Stir Fried Thin Noodles, usually served with ground peanuts, bean sprouts, and tiny dried shrimp

Pad Woon Sen ผัดวุ้นเส้น – Stir Fried Glass/Cellophane Noodles (made out of mung bean)

Pad See-Ew ผัดซีอิ๊ว – Stir Fried Thick Noodles with Soy Sauce (the Chinese version of Pad Thai…that Thai people actually eat!)

 Rad Na ราดหน้า – Thick Noodles in an Egg Gravy (made from cornstarch or tapioca) with Chinese Kale

Suki สุกี้ – Boiled Vegetables and Glass Noodles with sweet and spicy Sukiyaki sauce (Thai hot pot), can be served dry แห้ง (Suki-Haeng) or in soup น้ำ (Suki-Nam)

Mu/Neua/Gai Nam Dtohk น้ำตก – Spicy Pork/Beef/Chicken Salad, sliced in juicy strips (literally: meat + waterfall), very similar to Larb ลาบ, just not minced

Dtom Jeud ต้มจืด – Plain, clear soup (literally: boil + tasteless)

Dtom Yam ต้มยำ – Spicy, clear soup made with lemongrass (best with shrimp!)

menu, column four:

Yam Ruam Mid ยำรวมมิตร – Spicy Mixed Seafood Salad

 Yam Woon Sen ยำวุ้นเส้น – Spicy Glass Noodle Salad with minced pork หมูสับ (mu-sap) or mixed seafood ทะเล (ta-lay)

Yam Naem ยำแหนม – Spicy Salad with Fermented Raw Pork Sausage

Yam Moo Yaw ยำหมูยอ – Spicy Salad with Vietnamese Sausage 

Yam Mama ยำมาม่า – Spicy Salad with Mama Noodles

 Yam Kai Yeeow Maa ยำไข่เยี่ยวม้า – Spicy Salad with “Century Eggs” or “Horse Piss Eggs” (literally: salad + egg + urine + horse)

Som Tam ส้มตำ – Spicy Raw Papaya Salad, pounded with chili, lime, garlic, sugar, fish sauce, dried shrimp, long beans, tomato

Dtam Ma-muang ตำมะม่วง – Spicy Raw Mango Salad, similar to Som Tam – lots of varieties in these, look them up!

Dtam Dtaeng ตำแตง – Spicy Cucumber Salad, again a Som Tam variant – these have all the Thai flavors: sweet, sour, spicy, salty

Then, choose your meat (or lack thereof):

Gai ไก่ – Chicken

Neua เนื้อ – Beef, but also used as the word for all meat in general

Mu หมู – Pork

Mu Grawb หมูกรอบ – Fried Crispy Pork (lots of crispy fat!)

Blah Meug ปลาหมึก – Squid

Gung กุ้ง – Shrimp

Pak Ruam ผักรวม – Mixed Veggies

Ta-Lay ทะเล – Seafood

Mai Sai Neua ไม่ใส่เนื้อ – Without Meat (literally: no + put in + meat)

Jay เจ – Vegetarian or Vegan (if you order a dish jay, it can mean without egg or strong flavors like chili and garlic)

And the extras:

Want a slightly larger portion? Ask for it Pee-sed พิเศษ (Special – XL size) for 35 baht – otherwise, it will be Tamadaw  ธรรมดา (Regular) for 30 baht.

w/ Kai Dow ไข่ดาว (Fried Egg): +5 baht: if you want the yolk cooked through, say “kai dow sook”; for runny yolk, say “mai sook” ไม่สุก (not cooked)

If you’re on the go:

Glap Bahn ลานบ้าน – Take Away (literally: go back + home)

Sai Toong ใส่ถุง – Put in a bag (literally: put in + bag)

Sai Glong ใส่กล่อง – Put in a box (literally: put in + box)

If you’re eating in – experiment with condiments:

Sawd Sriracha ซอสศรีราชา – Sweet Chili Pepper Sauce (Thai ketchup) – not pictured

Nam Blah น้ำปลา – Fish Sauce in the bottle

Prik Nam Blah พริกน้ำปลา – Peppers/Chilies in Fish Sauce

Prik Nam Som พริกน้ำส้ม – Peppers/Chilies in Vinegar

Prik Bpohn พริกป่น – Chili Flakes

Nam Dtahn น้ำตาล – Sugar

…and help yourself to some free water! (side note: I hate when places make you buy a bottle of water! Thankfully, most have a cooler and ice chest where you can help yourself)


“Gep Dtang, ka!” เก็บตังค์ค่ะ – literally: collect the money (I hear this used most often)

“Check Bin, duay ka!” เช็คบิลด้วยค่ะ –check-bill, please! (duay is used to soften a request)

“Tow rai, ka?” เท่าไหร่คะ – literally: How much?

Okay!! Are you hungry yet? Most of the pictures with rice are my actual lunches from the past week or so – they may look similar, but they taste quite differently – and all ah-roy mak อร่อยมาก (very delicious)!

I hope this helps those in Chiang Mai. (And family at home…I hope you enjoyed seeing what I eat for lunch!)



  1. This is perfect! Thank You!

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