Some of the best local Thai food to try in Koh Samui are unmissable features of the dining scene on the island. The concept of 3 meals a day – breakfast, lunch, and dinner – is not yet totally part of Thai feeding habits, with eating little and often, grazing throughout the day, still being the norm. This is the reason why street food is so popular in Thailand. You can get something to eat at an affordable price almost anytime and anywhere.

    Most Thai street food dishes on display below can also be found at standard restaurants, but sitting outside on a plastic chair to sample a snack on the sidewalk makes your dining experience pretty cool. In Samui, you can find Thai food stalls almost everywhere: along beach roads, near nightspots (such as Soi Green Mango in Chaweng or Central Plaza in Lamai), at markets and night markets, on walking streets – basically, anywhere you find crowds of hungry people!

    1

    Noodle soup (gwoy tiao)

    Served with beef, chicken, pork or seafood

    Thai noodle soup is made of chicken, beef or pork broth and served with a choice of beef, chicken, pork or seafood. You can usually choose the shape and size of your noodles – wide flat, small wiry or medium flat – and add dry chilli, white vinegar or other condiments to spice it up (it’s usually served without much pep).

    2

    Papaya salad (som tam)

    A tasty and refreshing cold dish

    Som tam is a tasty cold dish originally from Isaan, in northeast Thailand, but which has spread right across the country. It includes shredded green papaya, garlic, tomato, yardlong bean, peanuts and chilli. Preserved crab is often added to it. Papaya salad is usually served with barbecued chicken or fish, and with khao niao (sticky rice). An excellent variant with shredded carrots instead of papaya is also available for the asking.

    3

    Stir-fried noodles (phad thai)

    An all-time favourite Thai dish

    Phad thai is one of the dishes most favourited by visitors in Thailand. These hearty, stir-fried noodles seasoned with fish sauce, lime, red chilli pepper, sugar and tamarind sauce (to which eggs, dried fish, tofu and bean sprouts can be added) are served with shrimp, chicken or pork.

    4

    Satay

    Delicious, meaty, and easy to eat

    Originally from Indonesia, satay is a grilled or barbecued chicken, beef, pork or (very occasionally) fish skewer dish served with a peanut sauce. Before being grilled, the meat is marinated in turmeric, which gives its distinctive yellow colour. Delicious and easy to eat, this popular snack can be found at roadside stands all around Samui.

    5

    Rice noodles with curry (khanom jeen)

    Crisply thin and delicious

    Kanom jeen (often wrongly spelt "khanom chin") are crisp, thin rice noodles served with a spicy green or yellow curry, as well as boiled eggs and fresh vegetables. This tasty traditional dish can also be served with papaya salad instead of sticky rice.

    6

    Yellow chicken rice (khao mok kai)

    A popular rice dish rich in flavours

    Yellow chicken rice is originally from Malaysia and is served with fried shallots, sliced cucumber and a small bowl of clear soup. The yellow colour of the rice is made by boiling it with a mix of onions, oil, turmeric and garlic powder. The chicken is marinated with curry powder, turmeric, cumin, coriander and chilli powder. This combination makes it an extremely flavoursome dish.

    7

    Meat/fish/seafood skewers with sticky rice

    Tasty barbecued snacks

    Barbecued meat, fish or seafood skewers are a classic of street food in Thailand. From chicken breast to entire small squid, and from sausage to pork slices, they’re cheap and you'll often ask for more than just one skewer. It’s simply delectable and really easy to enjoy while walking around a night market.

    8

    Chicken rice (khao man kai)

    A tasty Thai classic

    Chicken rice is a classic of Thai cuisine that originated from Hainan province in southern China. Its name says it all: it’s a simple chicken breast with rice. The chicken is poached and the resulting liquid fat – mixed garlic and ginger – is used to cook the rice. It’s usually served with chicken broth, fresh vegetables and a spicy sauce.

    9

    Pancake (roti)

    Popular among those with a sweet tooth

    Thai pancakes are a favourite for those with a sweet tooth. This flatbread originated in India and is one of the most popular snacks for Thais and visitors. Served with egg, condensed milk, banana, chocolate sauce or jam, this snack can be eaten at any time of the day.

    10

    Cocktails

    Drinks served in plastic goblets

    Cocktail stalls is a new trend in night markets and walking streets around Samui. You can get a mojito or a Tequila Sunrise served in a plastic goblet, and drink it as you continue shopping. Despite their low price, these street cocktails are often as good – if not better and as potent – as the more expensive mixed drinks served in trendy bars.

    Stephan Audiger | Compulsive Traveler

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