A simple recipe for ordering Thai food
A trip to Thailand is incomplete without exploring Thai cuisine.
Content
Lingo Ninja Research Team
3 min read · published April 15, 2021
Eating local food from street vendors is one of the most authentic experiences you can have in Thailand. It is here where you find genuine Thai food, not in 5-star restaurants. If you step outside your comfort zone, you can find amazing choices of food. 

Thai food is heavily influenced by Chinese, Malay, Indian, Lao, and Burmese cuisines, but there is also a western influence that even Thais are mostly unaware of. During the Age of Exploration, when Europeans "discovered" (at least from the European point of view) the Americas, Asia, Africa, and Australia a widespread transfer of goods, culture, technology, and ideas happened. At that time chili, tomatoes, corn, papaya, pineapple, peanuts amongst other foodstuffs were introduced to Thailand from South America.

Thai cuisine varies from region to region with different local specialties. In general, the northeastern food (Isaan food) is known to be very spicy, the central plains (Bangkok) are home to soups and use a lot of coconut milk, while the southern food tends to be influenced by Indian and Malay food.
 
Ordering food in Thailand can become a little overwhelming for tourists.  It is relatively easy as long as you're in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, or Phuket and eat where the staff speaks English. But once you explore more remote locations or order your food at a food stall, a bit of Thai comes in handy. In the following article you'll find a simple way to order a variety of Thai dishes.

The basics

First, let's look at how you can politely request something in a store or restaurant. This also includes a small excursion on "Polite Particles", a central element of the Thai language. You can read more about polite particles here.

On a side note, the transcription from Thai into English is arbitrary -- there simply is no standardized transcription, and if you compare transcriptions in Thai language books and dictionaries you will find some variety. 

Back to our polite request. If you want something, e.g. food or goods in a shop, this is how you say it in Thai:

เอา take
See in Dictionary
  +  [something]  +  ค่ะ polite word for women
See in Dictionary
/ครับ polite word for men
See in Dictionary


The preparations

Here are four typical Thai meals:

If you would order one of these preparations, the conversation would most likely go as follows:
You: I'd like fried rice, please.
เอา take
See in Dictionary
ข้าว rice, food
See in Dictionary
ผัด stir fry
See in Dictionary
ค่ะ polite word for women
See in Dictionary
.

Waiter: Which fried rice do you want?
เอา take
See in Dictionary
ข้าว rice, food
See in Dictionary
ผัด stir fry
See in Dictionary
อะไร what; whatever
See in Dictionary
คะ question for women
See in Dictionary
?

Waiter: We have chicken fried rice, shrimp fried rice, and vegetable fried rice
มี have, own; include
See in Dictionary
ข้าว rice, food
See in Dictionary
ผัด stir fry
See in Dictionary
ไก่ chicken
See in Dictionary
, ข้าว rice, food
See in Dictionary
ผัด stir fry
See in Dictionary
กุ้ง shrimp, prawn
See in Dictionary
, ข้าว rice, food
See in Dictionary
ผัด stir fry
See in Dictionary
ผัก vegetable
See in Dictionary
ค่ะ polite word for women
See in Dictionary


The easiest way to order is therefore to combine the preparation with the main ingredient:

The ingredients

Of course, rice is the main ingredient added to fried rice. But Thais usually add another ingredient like meat or seafood. If you want no meat, it is a good way to say "vegetables" instead. Here is some ingredients that you can use:

Putting it together: Ordering food

Now we can expand our polite request to include the preparation and the main ingredient:

เอา take
See in Dictionary
  +  [preparation]  +  [ingredient]  +  ค่ะ polite word for women
See in Dictionary
/ครับ polite word for men
See in Dictionary


This is the perfect way to order food in Thai.

Let's look at some examples:

Extra: modify your dish

Not spicy, please:
ไม่ no, not
See in Dictionary
เผ็ด spicy
See in Dictionary
ค่ะ polite word for women
See in Dictionary
/ครับ polite word for men
See in Dictionary

ไม่ no, not
See in Dictionary
means "not". เผ็ด spicy
See in Dictionary
means "spicy"

Don't add MSG, please
ไม่ no, not
See in Dictionary
ใส่ put something in; put on (e.g. clothes)
See in Dictionary
ผงชูรส MSG, monosodium glutamate
See in Dictionary
ค่ะ polite word for women
See in Dictionary
/ครับ polite word for men
See in Dictionary

MSG is ผงชูรส MSG, monosodium glutamate
See in Dictionary
. ใส่ put something in; put on (e.g. clothes)
See in Dictionary
means to add or put something.
Share article:
content_copy
more_horiz
written by
Lingo Ninja Research Team
Visit The best way to learn Thai