Thai BBQ_featured

Thai BBQ pork & chicken and the sauce

When you think of Thai food, soup or stir fried dishes may first come to your mind owing to famous Thai dishes like Tom Yum soup or Pad Thai. However, Thai BBQ is also delicious and have special features like the marination process and special sauces. Learn more about what makes this BBQ dish special in this post!

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What is Thai BBQ?

In general, Thai BBQ refers to grilled meat, primarily pork and chicken. This is because they are the most common meat options in Thailand. Thais traditionally use charcoal for grilling, and this is still being practiced today. As you might know, charcoal grilled meat carries a nice and unique charcoal fragrance.

One key factor that makes this type of BBQ special is the long marination process that makes the meat flavourful and tender. Moreover, it often uses a wide range of herbs and seasoning for marination that lasts for a few hours to overnight. Common herbs & seasoning include:

  • Oyster sauce
  • Light soy sauce
  • White pepper
  • Garlic
  • Coriander’s roots
  • A bit of sugar

Another factor that makes Thai BBQ unique is the sauce, which we will cover more of this later.

Thai BBQ_marination

Wongnai has a few recipe for Thai style marination here.

Popular BBQ pork and chicken dishes

Thai people make use of a wide range of pork and chicken parts in BBQ, some of which you may not be very familiar with. 

BBQ Pork

BBQ pork can range from the standard meat to pork belly and pork neck. Thai people also have BBQ pork skewers with sticky rice for breakfast! Moreover BBQ pork belly is a popular component of a Som Tum meal. Lastly you may also find unusual parts like BBQ pork intestine and pork ear in Thailand as well.

BBQ Chicken

If you visit a BBQ specialist in Thailand (usually street vendors), you will find almost all chicken parts starting from chicken breast, thigh, drum stick, wings to even parts like chicken butt, gizzard, heart, liver or chicken feet! You can also opt to BBQ a whole chicken which can be more affordable overall if you eat all chicken parts.

Thai BBQ sauce

Thai people love sauces so this local-style BBQ is often served with the special local BBQ sauce. The two most common sauces include Thai chicken sauce and Nam Jim Jaew.

Thai chicken sauce

While the name suggests that this sauce is great with chicken, Thai chicken sauce is great for all grilled and fried food. This includes any meat, seafood or spring rolls. The sauce is red in color and you will see some chili inside. However this sauce is mostly sweet and not really spicy. Most people find this sauce a perfect companion for any BBQ item!

This sauce is quite popular. In fact, McDonald’s even offers it in overseas markets like Hong Kong where they charge customers extra for this sauce.

Nam Jim Jaew

Unlike the sweet Thai chicken sauce, Nam Jim Jaew mostly tastes spicy and sour. The sauce is made from a wide range of seasonings and it is perfect for both BBQ chicken and pork. We have a dedicated article to talk about Nam Jim Jaew in case you are interested. 

Thai seafood dipping sauce

Another signature Thai sauce that typically goes with grilled/boiled/steamed seafood in Thailand. This spicy and sour sauce also goes well with grilled meat!

Thai BBQ chicken_BBQ sauce

Thai satay BBQ

Thai satay

The topic about Thai BBQ would not be complete without the satay BBQ. We put Thai satay BBQ under a different category as it typically has a different marination process and sauce.

In Thailand, satay generally refers to BBQ pork skewers which have a unique marination process. Marination process for the the satay BBQ uses herbs like galangal, lemongrass, coriander seeds, pepper along with other key ingredients like turmeric, curry powder and coconut milk. 

There are 2 types of sauce that is always served with the satay BBQ:

  • Ar Jad sauce: a transparent sauce mixed with fresh vegetables like cucumber, shallot and coriander leaves. It gives a sweet & sour taste, which is refreshing when served with fresh vegetables
  • Satay sauce: a mixture of curry powder and coconut milk together with peanut (watch out  for those of you who are allergic to peanuts). The sauce is sweet with a hint of spiciness and it has milkiness from coconut milk and peanuts. 

Mookata

When you think of BBQ in Asia, you may start thinking of something similar to Japanese yakiniku or Korean BBQ. The types of Thai BBQ we talk about may give off a different image than other Asian counterparts. Just like how Japan has both yakitori (BBQ skewer) and yakiniku, Thailand also has its own BBQ that we described above and Mookata. 

Mookata is the closest thing to yakiniku or Korean BBQ in Thai cuisine. However, we will cover this topic in another article.

Mookata_Thai BBQ

Is Thai BBQ delicious?

Yes, we love meat and we find the meat preparation in this type of BBQ really creates very fragrant, herby and delicious meat. We love the unique sauces available for Thai BBQ as well. Our personal favorite will be the Nam Jim Jaew, as we love both spicy and sour, and not sweet taste. If you love meat and BBQ, definitely you should try Thai-style BBQ and compare it with other types of BBQ you have had before. 

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Jim Jum hotpot_featured

Jim Jum hotpot: Thai-style spicy & sour hotpot

Hotpot is a popular Asian dish loved by many. We have previously covered Tom Yum hotpot but there is an even more popular type of hotpot in Thailand called Jim Jum hotpot. This hotpot is a local dish that can be regarded as a Thai hotpot. What is a Thai hotpot and how different is it from the regular hotpot? Learn more about this in this post.

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What is a Thai hotpot?

When you think of hotpot, the first thing that comes to your mind would probably be shabu shabu, sukiyaki ( the two types of Japanese hotpot) or huo guo (Chinese hotpot). However, Thailand also has its own local hotpot. 

So what is a Thai hotpot? First, you can probably guess that a Thai hotpot is hot, spicy, sour and is full of fragrance. That is right. That’s what a Jim Jum hotpot is like. Jim Jum originates from North Eastern Thailand (or Issan). The dish is very much like a hotpot where a hot soup is left to simmer at the table. Then, you can cook fresh ingredients like meat or vegetables by yourself at the table.

The name Jim Jum means “dip” in Thai, this reflects the action where you dip fresh ingredients into the soup to cook, then dip cooked ingredients into Jim Jum special sauce before eating.

Traditionally this hotpot is served in a clay pot where a heat source is put under the pot to keep the soup hot. However many modern operators have since replaced this more traditional way of cooking with a gas/electric stove. What makes this Thai hotpot a unique dish lies with the herb, the soup and its sauce. More on this in the following section.

A Thai hotpot soup base and sauce

Jim Jum or Thai hotpot soup base makes the dish unique. It has a herbal fragrance and spicy & sour taste. Thai hotpot soup base draws its fragrance from herbs like lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, shallot and other special ingredients like dried chili and ground roasted rice. The soup base is typically flavoured using fish sauce and lime as well to complete the spicy & sour taste.

The last unique component of this hotpot is its sauce called Nam Jim Jaew. This sauce is a North-eastern Thai sauce that goes well with hotpot but also grilled meat or Thai bbq. You will often find the same sauce on your Som Tum meal if you also order grilled chicken or pork neck. 

Nam jim jaew is also spicy and sour! Its key ingredients include fish sauce, sugar, lime, tamarind sauce, chili flakes, ground roasted rice and a lot of green onion/parsley (this sauce can also be used with Thai BBQ dishes!)

If you want to see more details about the Jim Jum hotpot, watch this great video from Wongnai here.

What can you put into a Jim Jum hotpot?

Jim Jum hotpot_sauce_ingredients

Similar to other types of hotpot, you can customize the content of your meal. You can add a wide range of fresh meat and vegetables, it really comes down to what you like. 

However, there are some standard ingredients including:

  • Vermicelli
  • Egg
  • Pork
  • Thai basil
  • Fresh vegetables like morning glory, cabbage or napa cabbage

Where should you try Jim Jum hotpot in Thailand?

As you can see by this point, this Thai hotpot is all about that spicy and sour flavour. Therefore, most of the Jim Jum hotpot you find in Thailand can get very spicy. Even Thais often find many of them too spicy!

If you do not want to take any risk, we would recommend established restaurant groups. This is because the taste tends to be milder and you would not have to worry about any hygiene issues.

Some places that you can visit to try Jim Jum hotpot:

You will be able to find branches from these restaurant groups quite easily in Bangkok.

Should you try Jim Jum hotpot?

Yes, you should. However, if you go to a more traditional/local establishment, the Jim Jum there is not for the faint of heart. That’s why we mentioned foreigners should go to a more established chain hotpot place that can offer a milder Jim Jum soup. 

Nonetheless, if you love hotpot and you are in Thailand, just go and try this local hotpot. you can try both Tom Yum hotpot as well as Jim Jum hotpot while you are in the country. 

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Kaffir lime_tom yum

Tom Yum Soup Calories & Health Benefits

Tom Yum soup is without a doubt delicious. However, for the health conscious, calories count and health aspects of the food also matter. So, how much is the Tom Yum soup calories and what are its health benefits? We’ll cover this topic in this post. We have also covered other version of Tom Yum-based products like Tom Yum noodle, Mama Tom Yum instant noodle and Tom Yum hotpot. Do check them out!

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Tom Yum soup calories breakdown

Tom yum soup calories_ingredient

Approximately, there is ~355 calories per serving for creamy version and 270 per serving for clear broth for a serving of tom yum soup.

How do we come up with this breakdown? It is actually complicated to come up with this number as there are two types of Tom Yum, clear and creamy soup. Moreover, there are numerous Tom Yum variations like seafood, chicken etc.

In this article, we will be focusing on a clear and creamy variation of shrimp Tom Yum soup dish. For our measurement, we will be referring to this delicious looking recipe from Wongnai for a full bowl enough for 4 servings. We use: 

  • 600 grams of shrimp:  ~830 calories 
  • 600 grams mushroom: ~130 calories 
  • 50 grams of shallot: 40 calories
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar: 50 calories
  • 2 tablespoon of fish sauce: 40 calories
  • [For creamy soup] 1 tablespoon of Thai chili paste: ~200 calories
  • [For creamy soup] 7 tablespoon of evaporated milk: ~130 calories

Hence, we can arrive at the following Tom Yum soup calories count: the creamy version has 1,420/4 = 355 calories per serving, while clear broth version has 270 per serving.

We also did not factor in calories from other herbal ingredients like lime, lemon grass, kaffir lime, galangal etc. This is because you do not typically eat the herbs in Tom Yum. Their main contribution is to add fragrance, taste and add some health benefit – more on this below.

Tom Yum soup's herbal properties

Thai herbs_mix herb

Tom Yum soup has these 5 main herbs: 

  1. Ginger
  2. Kaffir lime
  3. Lemongrass
  4. Galangal

Ginger will give the fragrance and also add spiciness to the soup. Kaffir lime is for the sour taste of the soup and also the refreshing citrusy fragrance. Lemongrass and galangal are for the unique Tom Yum soup fragrance, they are very important in giving Tom Yum its distinctive aroma. 

Being rich in herbs and spices, Tom Yum has a very rich, unique aroma that is popular among many. Therefore, no wonder that this recipe is also used in many other applications like Tom Yum noodle, hotpot as well as packaged instant noodle. 

Is Tom Yum soup good for colds?

Tom Yum soup calories_herbal

The herbs in Tom Yum may/may not have direct health benefits as cold remedies. However, if you have lost appetite or can not quite taste your food, Tom Yum soup might just be the dish for you. This is because the taste and the fragrance from the soup should be able to revive your appetite. 

The herbal properties in Tom Yum soup, however, might alleviate the sickness (but will not essentially cure it). Ginger, galangal and lemongrass all have some anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. These properties are essential in helping our body to recover from sickness.

Is Tom Yum soup good for colds then? To a certain extent yes, it is soothing and an amazing comfort food when you are sick. Also, its strong aroma can revive the appetite that you often lose when you are suffering from colds. However, we will not say it will cure the colds. Generally speaking, having nutritious meal, water intake and sufficient rest is always key to speedy recovery when you are not feeling well.

Is Tom Yum soup healthy?

Yes, it is healthy to consume Tom Yum soup. It is not high in calories and it is rich in herbs and spices. Herbs and spices have a lot of proven health benefits for us. However, as mentioned there are a lot of variations of Tom Yum soup. If you have certain conditions, you might need to tweak your Tom Yum ingredients. For example, if you have high cholesterol, you might want to add more fish and lessen the amount of squid and shrimp. 

In conclusion, Tom Yum is a highly customizable dish. Therefore, you can make it suit your health needs! 

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Tom Yum Hotpot_featured

Tom Yum Hotpot: A delicious way to enjoy Tom Yum soup

Tom Yum soup is a Thai dish known to be flavorful and fragrant. Having said that, the tastiness of its soup needs no further introduction. In this post, we want to talk about the use of Tom Yum soup in hotpot. Previously, we have talked about Tom Yum application in Tom Yum noodle and also Tom Yum instant noodle (like Tom Yum Mama instant noodle). Hotpot is another popular Asian “dish” across many Asian countries. So, what is it like when we combine Tom Yum soup and hotpot together i.e. Tom Yum hotpot? Learn more in this article if you are curious!

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Hotpot: What kind of dish is this?

Hot pot meal

Hotpot is a popular Asian dish where a boiling pot of soup is served at a dining table such that the hot soup can be left simmered at the table. Diners then cook raw ingredients such as fresh meat, fresh vegetables, meat balls, tofu, fish balls, etc. in the soup. The combination of the soup and the fresh ingredients as well as the different combo of hotpot sauces makes eating hotpot a really tasty affair.

We love hotpot meals as we get to sit around, enjoy fresh ingredients, customize our sauces and enjoy conversations with friends and families. Hotpot is a popular Asian dish that is typically consumed during get-together events. Having said that, you will find variations of this dish in many Asian countries:

  • Korea: Bulgogi Jeongol / Budae Jjigae
  • Japan: Shabu-shabu / sukiyaki
  • China: Huo Guo
  • Singapore: Steamboat
  • Thailand: Jim Jum / Tom Yum hotpot

Is Tom Yum hotpot delicious?

Tom yum hotpot

The answer is: absolutely! Similar to Tom Yum soup or Tom Yum noodle, Tom Yum hotpot is made of broth full of herbs like lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, chili, etc. The soup itself is mainly spicy and sour, but has a bit of sweet taste as well. 

Such a soup is a perfect match with fresh meat like beef/pork, as well as seafood such as shrimp/prawn or squid. Most vegetables would go well with Tom Yum hotpot as well. However, if you prefer your vegetables to not soak in too much of the Tom Yum soup, many restaurants would also allow you to split your hotpot into half. This way, you can have an option to have a clearer broth (milder tasting soup) in the other half. 

While restaurants in Thailand would give you sauces to go with your Tom Yum hotpot meal, we think the Tom Yum soup itself already adds enough flavor to the fresh ingredients. Hence, we typically refrain from using the sauce and simply enjoy the Tom Yum taste on the different hotpot ingredients.

Where can you try this kind of hotpot in Thailand?

There are a couple of top recommendations that we want to introduce here. These places have consistent quality and are tourist-friendly as well.

MK restaurants: This is the first and easiest option. MK Restaurants is Thailand’s largest hotpot chain with more than 400 branches across the country. MK Restaurants is known for their fresh ingredients and they have managed to maintain their quality across their branches.

Coca: An authentic Thai brand (they also own the Mango Tree brand) with history dated back to 1957. Today, Coca has a presence in 12 countries around the world. Another brand that will not disappoint you.

The above two names are our general recommendation as they are also foreigner friendly. But there actually are a lot of small hotpot/shabu-shabu operators in Thailand who also offer Tom Yum soup in their hotpot. Usually they exist as a standalone shop and they may not have an English menu. We can’t speak for their quality as there are so many of them. However, Google Map is your best friend if you want to check their reviews first before visiting the place.

Can you make this Tom Yum dish at home?

Absolutely, but you will need to prepare the necessary ingredients and Thai herbs for the Tom Yum soup. The typical ones include: lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, shallot, fresh chili, lime, fish sauce, and Thai chili paste. Apart from that, you will need fresh meat/vegetables to go with your hotpot. Wongnai has an interesting recipe for Tom Yum hotpot here. There is also a video with English subtitle available. 

Is Tom Yum hotpot worth trying?

Definitely. If you love Tom Yum and herbs/spices that Tom Yum has, this dish is for you. Also, if you have not tried hotpot at all (maybe you are new to Asia), this is also a good first hotpot dish to have! There are multitudes of hotpot soups out there, and Tom Yum soup is one of them – and our favorite too! Pick a reputable place, because the raw ingredients quality can make or break your hotpot experience, whether it is Tom Yum hotpot or other types of hotpot. 

It can be cheaper to have it at home if you are to eat the hotpot with your family members. You just need to make sure you have a good quality Tom Yum soup, quality raw ingredients, and the hotpot apparatus. Hotpot is such a fun get-together activity. Enjoy your hotpot!

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Mama Tom Yum Noodle_featured

Mama Tom Yum Noodle: Thailand’s Famous Instant Noodle

Tom Yum is delicious but, preparing your own Tom Yum is not that easy! This dish requires a wide range of herbs and spices which may not be readily available to everyone. Having said that, if you are craving Tom Yum, especially if you are overseas, an instant noodle with Tom Yum flavor might answer your craving (temporarily). Mama Tom Yum noodle is a quick (3-5 minutes) option for those who are looking to enjoy a quick Tom Yum meal. In this article, we will cover different types of Mama Tom Yum noodle and how can you best enjoy them.

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Instant noodle: Tom Yum flavour

Mama Tom Yum Noodle_Instan noodle in Thailand

There are many brands and flavours of instant noodles in Thailand. In fact, there is even an “instant noodle restaurant” that offers meals made exclusively from instant noodles. However, whenever someone talks about Thai instant noodle, the first thing comes to mind would be the Tom Yum flavoured ones.

There are many Thai instant noodle brands but the 3 largest ones are below (source). Also, all of them offer Tom Yum flavoured instant noodle

  • Mama: ~52% marketshare
  • Waiwai: ~24% marketshare
  • Yumyum: ~23% marketshare

Due to its market domination, the brand “Mama” became a Thai word for instant noodle. Its most popular flavor is also the Tom Yum flavor.  

Mama Shrimp Tom Yum noodle

Mama shrimp tom yum noodle

In the previous article, we have covered the 2 types of Tom Yum soups clear broth vs. creamy variation. As a quick recap, the creamy variation has chili paste and evaporated milk added on top of the clear broth variation. 

The classic Mama Shrimp Tom Yum noodle taste closer to the clear broth version of Tom Yum soup. Its spicy and sour soup is reddish in color but is still transparent. Official name of this noodle is Mama Brand Oriental Style Instant Noodles Shrimp Flavour.

Mama Creamy Tom Yum noodle

As the name suggests, this variation resembles the creamy Tom Yum soup. When compared to the classic version, Mama creamy Tom Yum noodle has a smoother creamy texture but still retains the spicy and sour taste of the classic one. Appearance-wise, the soup color is more orange than red when compared to the classic version. Official name of the noodle is Mama Brand Oriental Style Instant Noodles Shrimp Creamy Tom Yum Flavour.

What can you add to Mama Tom Yum noodle?

Instant noodles taste great! However, they can be made better (and more nutritious) with some additional ingredients.  

In terms of taste, Mama noodle is already spicy and sour. But, many still want to enhance the soup further to make the taste closer to the real Tom Yum soup. For this, adding more lime always works wonders. Those who prefer spicy taste can also add more chili to their liking. 

For herbs, adding sliced shallots or coriander and green onion can make the soup smell even more fragrant! You can also add the original Tom Yum herbs like kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass or galangal. (But honestly, if you have these ingredients already, you might as well make the real Tom Yum soup!)

For protein, you can add minced pork or sliced pork. Pork tends to go well with the Tom Yum noodle. However, the real MVP of protein would be eggs. You can simply add the egg in while boiling the noodles or add boiled egg directly. They taste really good with Tom Yum noodles.

You can add any kinds of vegetables into Tom Yum noodle for more fiber. We like cabbage and Chinese spinach the best to go with our Tom Yum noodles. 

Having said all the above, remember this pro tip from us: If you are adding many ingredients to the noodle, they might dilute its taste. Therefore, you might need to add additional seasoning accordingly.

Should you try Mama Tom Yum noodle?

You should, at least once. Definitely we will recommend you to try the real Tom Yum noodle that is freshly made at the store. However, sometimes you are hungry at night and stores are closed, you will not be disappointed with Mama Tom Yum instant noodle! 

Also for those who are not in Thailand, you can get a taste of Thailand’s Tom Yum by eating this instant noodle. Moreover, the noodle itself has a taste (go ahead and try the dry noodle). It is often used without its seasoning in making Thai salad. 

We believe in most households in Thailand, they have some stocks of Mama Tom Yum noodles – simply because it’s easy to make and very tasty.

Go ahead and try it yourself!

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Tom Yum noodle_featured

Tom Yum Noodles with Soup and its Dry version

Tom Yum is a famous Thai dish around the world. In fact, Thailand is submitting this dish to UNESCO to be included in the UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List. We are pretty sure Tom Yum soup does not need further introduction. So, Tom Yum noodle is a delicious adaptation of Tom Yum soup. In this article, we will be introducing some important points that you need to know about Tom Yum noodles. We will also talk about a few variations that you can try.

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Different types of Tom Yum soups

Clear vs creamy tom yum

Tom Yum soups generally taste spicy and sour, and are made with herbs such as lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and galangal. However, there is a major distinction in Tom Yum soups that you need to know. Clear broth Tom Yum comprises herbs mentioned above then seasoned with lime, fish sauce, chili and sugar which will produce an aromatic, spicy and sour clear broth.

Another type of Tom Yum soup is popular around the world for its rich spicy and sour taste. This type of Tom Yum soup also has a creamy texture. While this “creamy” version of Tom Yum soup shares the same base as its clear broth version, 2 key ingredients are added:

  1. Thai chili paste made from multiple spices like dried red chili, shallot, garlic, tamarind and in some version shrimp paste (reference)
  2. Evaporated milk

These two ingredients help to add richer and creamy flavors to this type of Tom Yum soup.

Tom Yum soups vs. Tom Yum noodles in Thailand

So we have introduced Tom Yum, but what is Tom Yum noodle? This question sounds simple but the answer to it is not. If you are familiar with Tom Yum soup, you probably know that it has a strong, rich taste filled with herbal aroma. So is Tom Yum noodle a dish where noodle is simply added to the Tom Yum soup?

In some cases, yes. However, given how strong the Tom Yum soup can taste (since it’s typically consumed with rice), some restaurants would dilute the soup slightly so that the noodle does not taste too strong.

If you are in Thailand and you order a bowl of Tom Yum noodle soup, you might be in for a surprise – more on this below.

Common Tom Yum noodle soups in Thailand

In Thailand, Tom Yum noodle most commonly refers to noodle with soup that has been flavoured using chili flakes, lime, fish sauce and sugar. These flavorings create a spicy & sour soup, almost similar to the Tom Yum soup we discussed above, but without the herbal aroma. Typically you can choose your noodle whether it would be thin/thick rice noodle, vermicelli or egg noodle. But even then, there are almost limitless variations on Tom Yum noodle soup you can find in Thailand. For instance, Tom Yum noodle with sliced/minced pork, with seafood, with fresh fish, with fish ball, with crispy pork and the list goes on.

If you are in central Bangkok, Rung Reung Pork Noodle is a good place to try pork Tom Yum noodle.

Does this mean you will not find noodles made with classic Tom Yum herbal soup in Thailand? While this is less common, you can still find them – for example, GreyHound Café has this dish on their menu.

Dry Tom Yum noodles

While Tom Yum is generally known as a soup, in Thailand, you can also find dry Tom Yum noodles. 

Dry Tom Yum noodle is everything like the Tom Yum noodle soup we mentioned above, minus the soup. This makes the noodles dry and tangy. Typically, dry Tom Yum noodles have a strong flavor as the taste is not diluted with any broth. Some restaurants would choose to serve a bowl of clear, soothing soup on the side for this reason. 

Common addition to dry Tom Yum noodles that is not found in the soup variation is the addition of roasted peanuts. Therefore, watch out for this if you are allergic to peanuts.

Dry tom yum noodle

Tom Yum egg noodles

Tom Yum noodles taste good, but many people prefer to have Tom Yum egg noodles with some egg flavour. You can either order your Tom Yum noodle with the yellow egg noodle. This is common in any noodle restaurant in Thailand. 

Some Tom Yum noodles however come with boiled egg, be it soft or hard boiled egg. Boiled eggs go surprisingly well with Tom Yum soup noodles so be sure to give it a try!

Tom Yum noodle_featured

Are Tom Yum noodles yummy?

Yes, Tom Yum noodle is one of our favorite noodle dishes in Thailand. It is our comfort food. Above all, we love that it is so customizable, from the types of noodle to the flavor of the soup. You can make the flavor more intense or less intense, anything up to your liking.

The difference between Tom Yum noodle vs other types of Thai noodle with soup is the more flavorful soup. With a more flavorful soup base, we can just give a little more additional seasoning to amp up the flavor to our taste. 

Go ahead and try Tom Yum noodle when you are in Thailand next! (or try an instant noodle version ahead of your travel / try out Tom Yum hotpot in Thailand)

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Does google map work in Thailand

Google Maps Thailand: Our Tips & Experience Using It

Google Map is indeed a powerful navigation tool for many. However, the coverage in different countries also varies. In Singapore and Hong Kong, for example, the coverages are excellent and almost always accurate with a few misses. But in a larger country, like Thailand, you might wonder “does Google Maps work in Thailand?”, or how accurate is the information available? Here we will discuss our own experience doing road trips in Thailand relying heavily on Google Maps. And this is because we are noobs in exploration!

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Does Google Maps work in Thailand for direction?

Google map Thailand_driving

If you are going by foot in Thailand, there is no issue following Google Maps. From our experience, the landmarks and the direction given are typically accurate.

However, if you drive in Bangkok or other cities in Thailand, you might want to watch out when you take the toll-way or underground tunnel. This is because the direction given may not be accurate. Sometimes you see the signs on the road telling you one thing, and Google Map navigator telling you something different. In that case, we advise you to see what are the signs on the road and follow that. Google Maps might miss out certain information especially if there are a lot of road splitting or turns around the same area.

We followed Google Maps closely when we went to Ayutthaya, Khao Yai and Hua Hin. And what we noticed is, and this is quite expected, Google Maps sometimes does not recognize smaller roads. Or, sometimes it mistaken smaller roads to be passable by any type of car. We followed Google Maps before to pass a bridge that was actually very narrow and there was no railing on the sides. We were thinking back then, what if the car that we were riding was a lot bigger/broader. Also, how unsafe it would be to follow the Google Maps without looking ahead at the road.

Does Google Maps work in Thailand for places reviews?

Both of us are avid contributors and users of Google Maps. We rely on it a lot when we are looking for restaurants, cafes, and accommodations. We would say that the reviews are very reliable. You can trust the ratings given on Google Maps, but always ensure you read through a number of reviews before trusting it.

There has been very few disappointing occasions where we visit places with 100+ reviews and average rating of 4.2+, so in general we tend to rely on Google map review quite a bit.

As an example, we visited Ayutthaya retreat which had over 1,000+ reviews and the average rating of 4.3, and the place did not disappoint!

Make use of Google streetview

Google street view can make your road trip in Thailand easier whether it would be to explore the road ahead of time or to check on store-front ahead of your visit.

Explore the road: streets in Thailand can be complicated, sometimes there are forking, highway, underground way, round about, bridge etc. Google street view can help you to check the road ahead of time so nothing catches you by surprise.

Check out the store front: Thailand is known for its street food, small vendors or local market. Sometimes the famous “restaurant” that your friend/the internet recommend to you may be on street side or a hole-in-the-wall shop. Checking the store front ahead of time can help you locate the shop once you arrive in that area

Google map Thailand_round about

What to look out for when using Google Maps in Thailand?

As mentioned before, small streets may not be accurately captured by Google Maps, especially small streets in cities outside Bangkok. Also, the Google Maps navigator might give wrong info sometimes (but this is rare to happen) when you are on the road. Hence, we advise you to always keep your eyes on the road and when you are in doubt with what Google Maps tells you, trust yourself and proceed slowly. In terms of finding places on Google Maps to see their reviews, the most important thing is to also have their address with you. There might be places with the same name and you might risk going to a wrong place if you cannot cross check with the actual address you are planning to go to. We had this issue when we were trying to find our hotel in Ayutthaya.

If you are solo-driving, we recommend buying a phone holder that you can attach to your car dashboard. This way, you can easily refer to Google Maps when driving without taking your eyes away from the road for too long. Also, if you have a companion in your car, ask that person to be your navigator and alert you on what’s coming so that you can still focus on the road.

Also, ensure your phone is fully charged and also you have strong internet. In places where internet can be a bit patchy, you should also expect the Google Map GPS working a bit less efficiently – as this is expected. 

Can you rely on Google Maps in Thailand?

Despite a few minor hiccups, Google Maps Thailand is very reliable. We are novice in terms of doing road trips and Google Maps was our best companion throughout our trips. 

Keep in mind that it is a technology that is supposed to help us navigate the road, but it is not always perfect. It is not 100% accurate and you should not panic it gives you inaccurate info/direction during your trip. You can always detour and get to your destination eventually. Google Maps will automatically adjust the direction when it notices that you are not following the original plan. It will let you know an alternative way to get to your destination based on your current location. 

Also, our last tip is if you are going to a totally unfamiliar place, spend some time reading the map the night before. It will help you to visualize the road and will help you to feel less nervous exploring the unchartered territory!

Happy driving & road tripping!

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Thai papaya salad calories

Thai Papaya Salad Calories: Is Som Tum Healthy?

In the previous article, we have introduced a few types of Som Tum or the spicy Thai papaya salad, and how the dish is relatively vegetarian friendly. In this article, we will be examining this dish from the health angle. This includes Thai papaya salad calories count and other health considerations.

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Thai papaya salad calories

Thai papaya salad calories_ingredients

Thai papaya salad itself has relatively low calories. Let’s take a dish of Som Tum Thai as an example, this Thai papaya salad dish may have around 150-200 calories by our estimate but this depends on the ingredients of each dish:

  • Raw papaya: approximately half of a raw papaya per dish would have less than 100 calories
  • Green beans: ~1-2 green beans: around 17 calories per serving (source)
  • Tomato: 4 small cherry tomatoes would have around 12 calories (source)
  • Peanut: 1 tablespoon of roasted peanuts would give ~40-50 calories

Following the above breakdown, a dish of Thai papaya salad would give around 150-200 calories, which is quite low. You can also cut the calories down further by removing peanuts from the dish!

Other variations of Thai papaya salad may contain slightly higher calories than the breakdown above. For example Som Tum with fruits that make use of ripe apple may contain higher calories as some fruits tend to have more calories than raw papaya.

100g comparison according to https://www.calorieking.com:

  • Raw papaya: 55 calories
  • Apple with skin: 93 calories
  • Grapes: 100 calories
  • Pomelo: 230 calories

A full meal: going behind Thai papaya salad calories

As mentioned in the previous article, Som Tum meal is often accompanied by carb (like sticky rice) and protein (like grilled chicken). Having said that, you will have to watch out for calories from those too if you decide to go with a full meal since the calories can add up to 300 to 500 calories easily!

  • Thai papaya salad: 150 calories
  • 200g of sticky rice: ~200 calories
  • A chicken drumstick: ~100 calories

Not to mention other components of a full Thai papaya salad meal like fresh vegetable, herbs or even other common dishes like grilled pork neck!

Is Som Tum healthy?

As you can see from above, the main ingredients for a Thai papaya salad dish like raw papaya, green bean, tomato and peanuts are all natural and do not have excessive amounts of calories. Hence, the short answer is yes. The dish is healthy unless you like really strong flavour and add too much sugar and fish sauce. Do note that a variation of Som Tum such as Som Tum Pla Ra contains fermented fish and there have been some warning against excessive consumption of such dish in Thailand. As always, moderation is key when consuming anything.

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som tum_Som Tum Thai

Som Tum: various types of delicious Thai papaya salad

Som Tum or Thai spicy papaya salad is a popular Thai dish originated from north eastern Thailand. The dish is famous for being rich in flavour i.e. a mix of sweet, spicy and sour. There are many types of Som Tum that you may find in Thailand, or at any Thai restaurant. Therefore, it is important to know your Som Tum before making any order! Also, you need to pay attention to some ingredients in Som Tum as it may contain ingredients like peanuts or shrimps which some people are allergic to). In this article, we will be covering different types of Som Tum and finish it off with whether the dish is vegetarian friendly.

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Different types of Thai papaya salad

The main ingredient of som tum is the shredded green, raw papaya. Other common vegetables include tomatoes and green beans (sometimes carrots as well). The dish derives its taste from garlic, chili, tamarind, lime, fish sauce and a bit of sugar. See recipe here.

som tum_Som Tum Thai

Som Tum Thai is the first variation of som tum that we will cover. It has unique ingredients including dried shrimp and peanut on top of your usual raw papaya, tomato and green beans. Som Tum Thai is common in central Thailand so you will be able to find it anywhere in Bangkok.

som tum_Som Tum Phu

Som Tum Phu or crab Som Tum is a variation where either preserved sesarma crab or flower crab is added to Som Tum dish to enhance the flavor. Recipe here

Som Tum Lao or Som Tum Pla Ra is characterized by a special ingredient called “Pla Ra” or fermented fish. This type of Som Tum with a small portion of fermented fish will have a stronger smell and flavor compared to other types of Som Tum. For those who enjoy the fermented fish enhancement, they will quote this is the best type of Som Tum. On the other hand, others who are not a fan will find the dish pungent. It is either you love or hate it. 

Som Tum cucumber salad replaces shredded green papaya with refreshing sliced cucumber for its main ingredient. Some variation of the som tum cucumber salad also add Thai sausage, shrimp or grilled pork into the mix which make the dish interesting.

Som Tum with fruits uses fruits as the main ingredient instead of shredded raw papaya or cucumber. Common fruits you will find in this type of Som Tum include apple, guava, pomelo and corn (although corn is not exactly a fruit). Some recipes will also add dragon fruit, grape, kiwi, pineapple. Actually, you can add any fruit you like, but the rule of thumb is to avoid adding watery fruit like watermelon. The reason being is obvious, you do not want your Som Tum too watery.

How to enjoy a meal with Thai papaya salad

You can have Som Tum on its own, but usually Thai people enjoy Som Tum with a number of other dishes. The most common one is to have sticky rice or kanom jeen as carb companion for Som Tum. Other than that, you can add some protein source like grilled/fried chicken or pork neck (which go really well with Nam Jim Jaew dipping sauce). This is because the typical Som Tum does not have any meat inside. Som Tum is already quite rich with vegetables but usually there are other raw vegetables and herbs accompanying this dish. This can include cabbage, basil leaves, green beans and cucumbers.

Som tum meal

Is Som Tum vegetarian friendly?

If you are a strict vegetarian then the answer might be no, as most Som Tum dishes contain fish sauce and Som Tum Thai contains dried shrimp. However, some shops offer vegetarian Som Tum, for example Som Tum Thai without dried shrimp. Otherwise Som Tum with cucumber or fruits are generally vegetarian friendly.

Find out more about the Thai papaya salad calories in our dedicated article!

Should you try Som Tum?

Yes, it is a famous Northeastern Thai dish that can be found everywhere in Thailand. It is refreshing, very apt for Thailand’s hot weather. There are a lot of variations that come with Som Tum. Also, most shops usually can customize your Som Tum (you can tell them what to include or not include) if you have a specific preference for this dish. If you are a vegetarian, you can try asking the vendor if they can make you a vegetarian version (sans fish sauce, dried shrimp etc). Given that it uses a lot of raw vegetable ingredients, you can treat it like salads and it does have similar health benefits like any other salads. 

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Thai coconut cake_kanom krok

Thai coconut cake and other traditional coconut desserts

You must have seen a plethora of coconut desserts when you were in Thailand, if you have visited this country before. Thai people have been using coconuts in their cooking and one major application is Thai coconut dessert. In this article, we will be covering a variation of Thai coconut cake and other common popular Thai coconut desserts. Do not mistake this with young coconut or roasted coconut which we have exclusive articles for.

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Modern Thai coconut cake

We have tried modern Thai coconut cakes in many places. On our recent trip in Thailand, we tasted a few different types. The first one is sponge cake with cream layers in between and young coconut meat on top. This is the typical modern coconut cake found in Thailand. We tried 2 of these in Summer House Ayutthaya and also Baan Gliwang in Hua Hin. 

thai coconut dessert_summer house ayutthaya
thai coconut dessert_baan gliwang huahin

We had a unique experience on our Ayutthaya trip where we visited Ayutthaya Retreat (a hotel with a restaurant inside). They serve young coconut cakes with a twist. The twist is, they layer sponge cake and coconut jelly in their cake, topped with coconut meat. The coconut jelly is made from young coconut water which added an interesting texture to the Thai coconut cake.

thai coconut dessert_ayutthaya retreat

Lastly, another type of modern Thai coconut cakes is crepe cake but using coconut as the ingredient. You can find it in modern establishments like Greyhound cafe

Traditional Thai coconut desserts

Traditional “cake” or “pancake” made from coconut milk

Thai coconut dessert_coconut cake

“Baa Bin” or Thai coconut pancake is made from mixing flour with coconut milk and young coconut to make the Baa Bin paste. You can then cook the paste on a flat pan or you can cake it in small trays. See full recipe here.

“Kanom tuay” which means dessert in a bowl. Kanom tuay is essentially coconut pudding/custard made by steaming 2 layers of ingredients. The first layer is sweetened rice flour and the second layer is coconut milk. The first layer is usually sweet, and it is also commonly mixed with pandan to provide fragrance and green color. You will find this dessert when you go to eateries to eat boat noodles.

“Kanom krok” is a unique Thai coconut “cake” which has a crispy shell but soft filling. You can make the soft filling from a mixture between sweetened coconut milk and flour. People can find this dessert on the street where vendors cook the coconut mixture in a hot pan with multiple small holes. See full recipe here.

Thai coconut cake_kanom krok

Other coconut desserts using traditional recipes

There are also many other traditional desserts that do not resemble cake or pancake but they use coconut or coconut milk as main ingredients. 

“Ruam mit” is one of the most common coconut milk desserts. It is a mix of items served in sweetened coconut milk. The items usually include sago, water chestnut (made into red ruby dessert), jackfruit, taro, chendol etc. 

“Khanom tom” or coconut ball with main ingredients being flour and coconut. You can make the ball using rice flour and the filling uses shredded coconut melted with palm sugar and coconut milk. It has a chewy texture and use shredded coconut as coating on the outside.

“Khao lam” or bamboo sticky rice is another popular Thai traditional coconut dessert. There are two types of this dessert, one uses white sticky rice and the other black sticky rice. You can mix the sticky rice with sugar, sweet red beans, and coconut cream. Then, you can insert the mixture into cylinders of hollow bamboo. Next, roast the bamboo over coals. See more information about Khao lam in this article.

Should you try Thai coconut desserts?

Definitely! Coconuts in Thailand are of high quality and taste really good. With good ingredients, you can expect tasty Thai coconut desserts as well. There are a broad variety of coconut desserts that you can find in the country. You might find your favorite after you try a few of them. If you are not a big fan of sweet stuff, you need to exercise caution when buying desserts in Thailand though. Also, try small quantity as they tend to be on the sweeter side (Thai people love sweets in general).

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