The most experienced foodies can’t get enough of Thai food and we know why. Thai dishes are never boring and always stimulating. Zesty, sometimes light, sometimes rich, always fragrant and interesting, and addictively hot, it always teases and pleases the palate and tickle one’s taste buds. If you are not a fan of Thai food, maybe you haven’t given it enough chance to seduce you. Try these amazing local food in Koh Samui and we are sure that you will be a convert soon.
Every Asian country has their own version of stir fried noodles and Pad Thai is definitely one of the most distinct tasting.You can find these in small food joints in the streets as well as in 5 star restaurants in Koh Samui. The irony of it all is that the ones served at the street tastes a whole lot better than anything you can get in a fancy restaurant.
While you might think that this is just a rehash of the ever famous Chinese noodles, Pad Thai is very Thai because of the ingredients used to flavor the noodles. Sugar, chillies, and the tang of tamarind render an interesting touch of flavor that you won’t taste elsewhere. Then there’s the protein—chicken or pork, tofu, and shrimp to give it texture. Herbs are added to impart color and flavor, while beansprouts and peanuts provide layers in each bite. To give it a refreshing taste, a nice little dose of lime juice is added before serving. Truth be told there are so many elements to Pad Thai you would wonder if the combination will work. You’ll get your answer with your first taste. Hint: it is a big fat positive.
You can find this for cheap at any street food stall. There is big demand for spring rolls because they are easy to love and we highly suggest that you start your local food trip with these treats. Crunchy wrapping with a generous filling of sauteed vegetables and sometimes shrimp, this is best eaten hot and with a sweet spicy dip. Some eat this with spicy vinegar sauce and that’s okay too. Spring rolls are great quick bites and we are warning you, it is hard to stop with just one. Bite after bite, you will totally be hooked on these golden fried goodies. You can eat these as is but if you haven’t heard of it yet, they are yummy with rice too. In fact spring rolls are legit viands and served with rice in some countries like the Philippines.
Thai Chicken Soup
Always a pleaser, chicken soup is a no fail dish. Every country seems to have their own version and Thai chicken soup is as great as they come. It starts with the broth that is flavored by basic Asian spices like garlic, onions, ginger, and a stock base. Fish sauce is also added to the mix to give it a true Oriental feel. Aside from the broth, there is also the noodles, some use egg noodles but vermicelli is more commonly preferred. Vegetables like scallions, basil, bean sprouts, and mint are also added, along with the chicken meat. Thai chicken soup has several versions, some with a clear lighter broth, and one laced with coconut milk. Thai chicken soup is a complete meal and is very warming. Locals love to eat this when it is raining as it is filling and nourishing to the body.
Kai Pad Med Mamuang Himmapan
This is also known as sauteed chicken with cashew nuts and is another universally liked dish because it is not that hot like other Thai dishes. The flavor profile of Kai Pad Med Mamuang Himmapan is a mix of savory and sweet, so it is a balanced concoction many can’t resist. The cashews provide a delicious crunch factor that complements the juiciness of the chicken. This is very popular among kids and is recommended for those who are just starting to get to know Thai cuisine. Kai Pad Med Mamuang Himmapan is a good mix of Asian flavors of sesame oil, spring onions, garlic, soy sauce, and oyster sauce. This is a very visually pleasant dish too as it has so much color and elements in one plate. Stir fried chicken and cashews is amazing with steamed or fried rice and can be made spicy by adding chillies to the mix.
Tom Yum Goong
This spicy shrimp soup has captured the hearts of many because of its complex flavor profile. This soup is a party of tastes and is at the same time sour, hot, and rich. The aroma of Tom Yum Goong is beyond description. Aromatic flavors render their scent to the dish. There’s galangal, lemongrass, Kaffir lime leaves, and coriander in the mix so there is a lot going on in each bite. Of course, the star of this dish is the shrimp, which is freshly caught and cooked perfectly for it to be soft to the bite. Tom Yum Goong captures the gist of Thai cuisine in one bowl. Think Asian herbs, high quality protein, and chilli—these combined is the heart of Thai food.
Khao Man Gai
In Koh Samui, there are so many Thai dishes that you can try. An underrated dish that is so good yet so simple is Khao man gai.
This is boiled chicken served with rice. While that sounds boring and something they will serve you while you are on a soft diet, it doesn’t end there. The dipping sauce which is a mix of sweet and spicy carries the dish to a whole new level. Also, the rice used for the dish is cooked in broth that was made while boiling the chicken so it is flavorful and had all the goodness of chicken in every grain. The concept of this dish is similar to Hainanese chicken so if you love that, give khao man gai a try.
Its bright earthy color is synonymous to how rich tasting Panang curry is. This should be among the Thai food you must sample in Koh Samui. A little sweet, spicy, savory, and rich because of the coconut milk, this is a comforting dish that will get you hooked on Thai curry dishes. Compared to green curry, this is less aromatic and has more low tone flavors that will get you intrigued. Cumin also imparts an earthy exotic taste to it.
Beef and vegetables like eggplant comprise the bulk of this dish while traditional Thai herbs are used to add a fresh touch. Best eaten with hot steamed rice, this pairs well with Thai iced tea too.
A veggie based dish known as som tam or green papaya salad is a refreshing Thai dish you should not miss out on. This is basically shredded unripe papaya that is seasoned with fish sauce, sugar, garlic, and lime. To provide more complexity, peanuts and seafood meat are also added. Like most Thai favorites, this is spicy so chillies are also added in the mix. This is a very light yet filling dish that is best eaten with sticky rice.
Another street food staple, Thai fried rice or Khao pad is complete meal that is perfect on its own or as an accompaniment to other local dishes. Rice is a staple food in Thailand so the locals have mastered the best ways to prepare it. Steamed rice is pretty popular but fried rice is untouchable as a household favorite because it is a pleasure to eat by itself. Thai fried rice starts with sauteing onions, garlic, chilis, and meat. Chicken, beef, and seafood can be added depending on which is available. Rice comes next, then the chosen seasonings and herbs. Fried rice is also often served with sunny side up egg on top, which makes the dish even more filling.
Comparable to the classic beef and potato stew, this Thai staple is actually a curry dish with Middle Eastern influences. Massaman curry means Muslim curry and is distinguished from other Thai curries by the addition of spices commonly used in Muslim cooking like nutmeg and cinnamon. The easier method to do this is to use Massaman curry paste as base. Either way, the end result is always amazing. This dish is great when the meat is soft and tender and all the flavors have already combined as one. Slow cooking will bring out the best in this dish.
Pad Krapow Moo Saap
A humble comfort food called Pad Krapow Moo Saap or minced pork with holy basil is another hit among the locals. This is essentially stir fried pork with the herbal taste of holy basil. This is a yummy treat although it is simple to make. Cooking this begins with sauteing garlic, chili, fish sauce and soy sauce. This mixture is then added to the shallow fried pork along with half of the needed basil for the recipe. After mixing thoroughly, the remaining fresh basil is placed on top as garnish. Not to sound like a broken record but this is great with a serving of rice.
Kai Jiew Moo Saap
A visit to one of the walking streets or food stalls will get you to try Kai Jiew Moo Saap or Thai omelette. If you are bored with the usual vegetable omelette and you are looking for something more satisfying, this Thai version has a good dose of protein as minced pork is tossed in with the egg to make this nutritious treat. Once cooked, the dish is garnished with coriander leaves or a side of vegetables. This can be eaten lunch or dinner or as a snack. Others favor it as a breakfast food so it actually works anytime of the day.
Another no fail Thai dish that will appeal to people of all ages is gai yang. This is essentially just grilled chicken. How can you be wrong with anything barbecued? This is available everywhere and is good because it is hot and smoky and cheap too. Again, the ones found in the streets will give you the best value for money although we won’t judge you if you are curious with the gourmet versions of this simple local food. This grilled goodness is best eaten with sweet chilli sauce and using your (clean) hands. Or you can use the meat as a topping for salad—an idea you can do at home.
Mango Sticky Rice
This list won’t be legit without a shout-out to one of Thailand’s best desserts—mango sticky rice. The concept is so beautifully simple yet it tastes so good. Take a ripe tropical mango—the sweet, juicy kind that is perfection in itself, and sticky rice—which is cooked glutinous rice soaked in a mixture of coconut milk, sugar, and a little salt then garnished with sesame seeds. Eat them together and feel your taste buds explode and sing with pleasure. Though not as fancy looking as European desserts such as creme brulee or chocolate mousse, one bite and you’ll understand while mango sticky rice has charmed its way up into the dessert hall of fame. This Thai food seriously slays so make sure you try it on your Koh Samui holiday.
Kao Ka Moo
This slow cooked pork stew looks pretty unassuming but it is so tasty and deliciously sticky, you will eat endless cups of rice with it. The broth uses soy sauce and fragrant spices—cinnamon and anise. The dish is sinfully fatty, savory, and sweet at the same time. The meat used for this is pig’s legs so it definitely has an interesting texture when cooked. If you want something saucy other than curry, we highly suggest kao ka moo.
Plah Kah Pung Neung Manow
A light Thai food that anyone will enjoy is . Plah Kah Pung Neung Manow. This is snapper that is flavored with garlic, lime juice, and aromatics and steamed till cook. The flesh of the fish is cooked to perfection with hint of herbs. It is amazing.
Thai food is certainly worth a try. Head to some of Koh Samui’s notable Thai restaurants and start exploring Thai cuisine during your stay. Or better yet, head out and try these at the small street joints for a great food trip without spending a lot of cash.