Thai Street Food, Yes or No?
A question that we are asked here at Asia After Dark so many times is regarding whether or not the Thai street food is safe to eat, or will it end you up in hospital? Truthfully, I can only answer this based on personal experience and from friends and family I know here. In my short time living here (starting my seventh year in July), I can honestly say I have never had any problem eating Thai street food. In fact I have a few stalls that I visit regularly, and prefer their food to that of some of the high end restaurants in town.
So how do you know if the food vendor you are stood at will provide you with good or bad food? A good indicator is wait a few minutes and see how many Thai people buy food from there. Thai people are very fussy eaters, yes I know you are thinking I am mad saying this, especially based on some of the food they do eat. However, that said and done, Thai people really are very choosy when it comes to food. My misses for example, will happily travel 2 or 3km to get Som Tam from a specific food cart/street restaurant, rather than stop at one of the hundred or more stalls we pass by, getting to her chosen location. If a street stall is quiet, or moves on very quickly the chances are there is a reason behind it? If on the other hand, you see the same street vendor setting up in the same location night after night, well you know they are almost guaranteed to be safe.
So are there any foods to avoid or recommend?
Sure, there are things you need to be aware off. For instance, eating bugs and insects. Yes we have probably all tried it at some point. Myself, I eat them every week, they are delicious. But, you need to know how to eat them correctly otherwise you may end up in a bit of bother. I see many people buying insects and just shoving them in their mouth and chewing away. Beware, there are certain parts of the insects, you should really avoid eating. The legs of the locust should be removed, the same goes with the back wings of the large beetles. Why, well simply because if they get stuck in your throat, the legs have tiny hooks on them, so no matter how much water you guzzle, you won’t be budging it! The next thing is you will be in a choking fit and most likely need to visit the hospital to have the stuck leg removed. The same with the wings, these are very difficult for the body to digest and can cause internal issues. Watch the Thais eat these, you will see they pull the wings off, or remove the legs!
Khapao Moo or Khapao Gai (Spicy pork/chicken) dishes are lovely, be careful, they can be quite spicy. Pad Thai Gai is also a great dish to try, noodles with chicken and herds. A favourite dish I love, and you will need to hunt around is Khao Kookabi (Isaarn dish), this is a mix of meats, egg,rice,herbs and sausage, a really enjoyable dish!
So whats the conclusion?
Thai street food is great. Find the right places and you will never want to eat anywhere else! The normal fruit, pancakes, BBQ stalls are always easy to find, and quick to suppress a hungry appetite. For more established meals, take time to look around and soon you will find that golden gem!