One of the biggest joys of travel is discovering new things, and Thailand is home to world-famous cuisine for you and your family to discover. One of the biggest perils of travel with children is that some kids can be notoriously picky eaters.
Rest assured, in most major Thai tourist destinations you can always find a taste of home. If your kids just need a McDonalds fix, the golden arches are probably only a few minutes away. But there are tons of yummy Thai dishes for them to try. With a little creative selling techniques and the right attitude, you may find your children falling in love with Thai cuisine.
Here are 10 Yummy Thai Foods to explore with your kids:
So maybe it’s not the healthiest dish in the world. But it’s delicious. It’s super easy to find (almost every restaurant you eat in will have it on the menu.) And unlike the Chinese take-out fried rice you might have in your home country, Thai fried rice is usually packed with veggies and has soft ribbons of protein-filled eggs, stir fried into the mix.
Fried rice with chicken is a crowd pleaser. Other popular choices are pork, shrimp and crab. If you order shrimp fried rice, the shrimp are usually mostly-but-not-completely shelled. The tail will still be attached as well as the last joint of the shell, which is directly connected to the shell. Crab-fried rice includes the crab meat only (not the shell). However, sometimes a few tiny bits of the inner or outer crab shell make their way into the dish. If you’re feeding it to a very young child, you may want to be a bit careful.
Fruit smoothies are everywhere in Thailand. They’re cool and refreshing and packed with vitamins.
Each shop will have a different selection. Let your children try a smoothie of their favorite fruit, mix fruits together, or let them discover new tropical fruits they’ve probably never tasted at home.
Of course the fruit selection will differ from menu to menu. Common choices include: mango, coconut, watermelon, orange, pineapple, lime, cantaloupe, strawberry, papaya and lychee.
Thai Grilled Chicken and Sticky Rice
How could kids not love a food with a name like “sticky rice”? Plus they get to eat it with their hands!
Sticky rice lets the little ones play with their food… because that’s how it’s supposed to be done! You break off a small chunk of the sticky rice, roll it into a little ball, and pop it into your mouth with a bit of other food or on its own.
Grilled chicken and sticky rice are a popular duo. Thai grilled chicken is bursting with flavor – and it’s healthy. It’s a much healthier option than fried chicken, though KFC is also ubiquitous in Thailand.
The Thai word for “grilled chicken” is very easy to pronounce – “gai yang”. It rhymes with “my song”. The word for sticky rice is “kao niow”. The first word sounds like the English word “cow”. The second word almost rhymes with the sound a cat makes, “meow”.
Note: The pieces of chicken are often chopped with a cleaver, so it’s not uncommon to find little shards of bone that have splintered off during the chopping process. It’s a good idea to carefully remove the meat from the bone yourself if feeding it to young children. That way you can be sure they don’t end up with any sharp bits on their plate.
Mango Sticky Rice
This Thai dessert is sweet, delicious and filling. You’ll find it in restaurants and at street stands all over Thailand.
Thais often consider this ‘children’s curry’. While it’s super delicious and extremely popular at Thai restaurants abroad, Thai adults tend to favor the grown-up fiery curries like green curry or penang.
Massaman curry is usually much milder and also has a pronounced sweetness and a creamy peanut base within the sauce. A word to the wise though: no two massaman curries are the same. And children are much more sensitive to spiciness than adults. Be sure to specify “mai pet” (“not spicy”) and to taste it before feeding any to younger children.
Kao Tom (pronounced “cow tome”) is Thailand’s popular rice soup. It’s very much like “chicken noodle soup” in America and many other Western countries. It’s a healthy comfort food, eaten any time, but also specially given to people to help them get well soon when sick.
The most popular varieties of Kao Tom are rice soup with chicken (“kao tom gai”) and rice soup with shrimp (“kao tom goong”).
Look Chin (Thai Meatballs)
This is a very popular Thai street food. You will see them being grilled all over Thailand, though it’s not incredibly common in sit-down restaurants.
If your children want a snack or you’re just having a quick meal on the go, give Look Chin a try. Calling them “Thai meatballs” is a sales trick that might help get your kids a bit more excited about trying them.
In addition to eating them grilled, you will also find them being served many places in noodle soup.
Pad Thai (Thai Spaghetti)
Another sales tip: call this majorly popular Thai dish “Thai spaghetti”.
Kao Mun Gai
This is a simple but delicious dish similar to the Hainanese Chicken Rice that is a star of Singapore cuisine. It consists of rich, chicken-flavoured white rice topped with slices of boiled chicken meat. It comes with a bowl of hot chicken broth that often includes pieces of a local vegetable that has a taste and texture quite similar to a potato.
A yummy desert option. This dish consists of squares of soft, buttered lightly toasted bread which is then smothered in a custard sauce.
The coconut custard sauce often comes in two varieties: bright orange and bright green. And kids love colour! The orange is flavoured with Thai tea, and the green is flavoured with pandanus leaf, but to be honest these extra flavours are not very noticeable and the two sauces taste almost the same. Just let your kids pick their favourite colour.