Eating like a local in Thailand
Those who have been following me on Instagram and Twitter know that I just got back from Hat Yai, Thailand. Although four days were a bit too much for the town, my girls and I had a blast. What was the highlight of the trip? Well, the food, of course.
The trip was all about eating off the streets. Agreed that there are a lot of good eateries and many fine dining restaurants too, but the pleasure of eating from stalls off the road is completely different. It helps you connect with the food at a different level. Let me take you through my recent street food journey.
Lyf&Spice goes food hunting
Where: Hat Yai, Thailand
What: Street Food and local delicacies
- Fried Chicken:
Well, this was the first thing we had as soon as we reached Hat Yai. Sausages, prawns, chicken fritters and chicken legs were being sold at a number of stalls. We opted for whole chicken legs that easily weighed close to a kilogram each. They were available in two sizes, costing THB 70 and 80. Such juicy, tender meat with crispy exteriors deserves a standing ovation. It was no short of brilliant. Oh, and did we mention that they were deep fried? 🙂 They ought to be delicious right?
- Pork crisps:
Stalls, road-side vendors and a lot of restaurants serve pork in various forms all along the streets of Hat Yai. Some of the most interesting varieties however, were that of BBQ pork, pork ribs and grilled pork. I spent quite some time watching them slow-cook or roast the pork by the fire pit.
- Nutella Roti:
Roti canai and its variations were available in at least one stall per street – roti pisang (roti with banana), roti jagung (roti with corn), roti telur (roti with fried egg) and a lot more. To top it up, we could choose a plain crispy roti with milo, nutella or chocolate. We had to order nutella roti. Need we say more?
- Fried Oyster:
What makes this oyster fry so different from the rest? Well, it is shallow fried with an egg, just like an omelette. You get to choose from the fresh lot of oysters and order it with an egg or two. Using oodles of oil, this delicious eggy delight is gooey in consistency, but is worth a try.
- Crispy Whole Bird:
These tiny little whole birds were fried and kept at the counters along with other fish and chicken fritters. While there could be a lot of species, the most commonly found ones are the quail. Cripsy, crunchy and tasty in every bite, they felt almost like fried chicken. However, just one was not enough for a meal. We had them as a snack with iced tea.
- Fish on stick:
Do not underestimate the worth of sausages, fish balls, chicken and other meat on a stick. They are the perfect snack on the go. Every vendor has their own style of making it – some fry it, while some slow-grill it. Additionally, they have different sauces to offer, thus making every fritter or meat on a stick taste different from the other. Beware of the hot sauces. If you can’t tolerate chillies, ask them for a sweet sauce.
- Street Noodles and Rice:
Delicious stir fry noodles or Phad Thai with our choice of meat used to be our hot favourite when hungry. Tofu, bean sprouts, chillies, garlic, vegetables and sweet sauce complete the dish. The ones I had at Hat Yai were too sweet for my liking, however the element of freshness and lightness is what made us have them for dinner, twice in a row. I found the rice in Thailand to be quite fragrant and delicious, thus, never hesitated to order fried rice with egg, chicken and sea food.
We had a lot of variations and close cousins of ABC or Air Batu Campur/Ais Kacang. ABC, the famous summer-soother is made of shaved ice and contains a lot of fresh and dried fruits, jellies, cendol, red beans, corn, peanuts etc. and is topped with ice cream after drizzling some condensed milk or coloured sugar syrup on top of the mound. Bringing about a twist, are some sago, sweet potato and coconut milk variations with a common factor – shaved ice. We tried bubur cha cha with shaved ice, coconut milk, sweet potatoes, purple yam, taro and a lot of colourful jellies, and laicikang that had laici or lychee fruit in a pool of shaved ice, jellies and basil seeds.
- Mango Sticky Rice:
This mango season, the king of fruits teamed up with its pale counterpart, sticky rice, and the duo nailed it. The most refreshing dose of supper I have had in a while. After clubbing, when the streets were still ablaze, we used to gorge on this chewy delight before hopping onto bed. It was served in a take-away container with coconut milk strapped up as an option. The best way to have it would be to pour the milk on the rice and then mix it with mango – and that’s exactly what we did.
10. Pulut Pisang:
This is the best sweet something to eat on the go. It comprises of ripe, cooked bananas wrapped in pandan leaves and steamed. The delicate pulp comes to life as you open the leaves and take the first bite. It is quite a heavy snack, which you will realize once you’re done eating -> mushy, greasy, satisfying.
Bonus mention – Iced Milk Tea:
Oh, this has to be my favourite. While the other friends opted for other versions of tea, I would order a tumbler of milk tea ice, as they call it. It tasted just like the Indian chai back home, but of course, as an icy variant. A lot of cafes and small outlets sell this, but you must try the ones that the local vendors make. Besides this, we also tried regular iced tea, carrot lime slush, mixed fruit juice etc.
Stay tuned for more food stories on Hat Yai
Till then, check out my Travel and Food stories on Instagram.
Read – Eat – Drool