A Food Lover’s Ultimate Guide to Thai Cuisine

A Food Lover’s Ultimate Guide to Thai Cuisine

Are you ready to dig in one of the world’s best cuisines? We sure are! Selina’s Thai food guide will take any fan across a diverse range of vibrant flavours. The country’s culinary culture is well-rounded in every aspect from ingredients to technique. 

The people of Thailand consider their food to be a central part of any occasion. They don’t see the need to celebrate anything grand to enjoy a splendid meal. Their cuisine brings families and friends together no matter the time of day it is. 

Are you a big fan of Thai food? Learn all you can about this culinary giant here:

The main flavours

Thai food is known for its diverse flavours and unique use of fresh ingredients. You’ll notice how much effort they put into it once you are served with a bowl of curry or a salad. In their culture, there are 5 main flavours:

  • Sweet
  • Savoury
  • Sour
  • Bitter
  • Spicy

In most countries outside of Asia, you’ll find dishes that focus on only one or two of these flavours. In Thailand, however, you get all 5 of them on a single plate. They enjoy their food spicy, which is something that foreign tourists might get intimidated by. You don’t have to worry much about the heat–they know how to balance them very well. 

Thai cooks love making use of different kinds of meat, fish, and poultry. Most of their dishes include a hearty serving of soup or vegetables. Much of their meals are shared by everyone on the table so don’t be shy to ask for more. 

If main dishes alone are enticing, you don’t want to miss out on their dessert. Thai people love eating fresh fruit and most of them are exotic or native to the tropical regions of Asia. You get guava, papayas, tamarind, mangoes, and more in a single platter. If that doesn’t sound enticing, you’ll be delighted to know that they love making sweet dishes out of rice and beans! 

Servings are often large and shared by everyone. Thai people would eat with their hands but sometimes use chopsticks. They also eat with a spoon and a fork, just like most of the countries in Southeast Asia. 


Thai cuisine is a melting pot of influences that date back to the ancient times. Some components being used today are similar to those in India, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Others believe that Thai cuisine is an offshoot of Indian culinary culture. They mimic each other’s technique in their generous servings of spices to flavour their dishes. 

Even with close similarities to others, Thai cooks have developed their own way of cooking with spices. They learned how to make medicine from scratch thanks to the influx of Indian herbs to the country. Their cuisine was heavily influenced by neighbouring countries until the 16th century when Western explorers arrived on their shores. 

At that time, Southeast Asia was experiencing a period of colonization except the Kingdom of Ayutthaya, a key figure to the development of modern Thailand today. It existed from the 14th to 18th centuries and was considered to be a major power in the subregion of Asia. 

The period was met with expansion and success, sparing the nation from the consequences of colonial rule. They were central to the international trade that occurred with the West. Perhaps the most important influence brought to Thailand was the use of chilli peppers. Today, it is the second most popular ingredient in Thai cuisine, next to rice. 

Regional cuisine

Just like other countries in Asia, Thailand is home to regional varieties of their own cuisine. You have people from the capital enjoy more elaborate dishes that fuse the flavours of Europe. Since Bangkok is where the royal family resides, you can expect that the city serves its dishes in the same style as their monarch enjoys them. 

The central regions of Thailand are where rice is abundantly grown. Their staple ingredient, however, is coconut and its milk. Northeastern states have closer ties to Laos, a neighbouring country, with fermented fish as their favourite. 

The tip of Thailand is filled with mountains, making it one of the cooler regions of the country. Due to the weather conditions and their close proximity to the northeastern states, they share a lot of similarities with the cuisine of a Thai ethnic group native to the country’s highlands. 

Southern Thailand is known to be the country’s coastal regions due to being the only region that is bordered by water. Here, you will find complex versions of curry, techniques, and chillies that are native to the region. Some people consider the cuisine to be a massive influence on the general culinary culture of Thailand. 

Popular dishes you must try

Do you want to learn more about the dishes that are typically served in Selina’s Thai restaurant? Explore our list below:

  1. Spicy tom yum 

This is perhaps one of the most iconic dishes you will find in most Thai restaurants. They are just that good! Tom yum is made out of shrimp, chilli, lime juice, and fish sauce. They can be served in a creamy broth made of coconut cream if you want a thicker slurp. 

Since this dish is packed with spices, you might want to pair it with a cool and refreshing drink. You can opt to have the chefs make a mild version if you want to try it out for the first time. We are sure that after every serving, you will want to order more!

  1. Som tam

Vegetarians will love this Thai salad! Som tam is made out of the freshest ingredients you will find on the market. What sets this salad apart from the rest is that it is made out of green papaya! Many regions across Thailand prepare it with other staple ingredients such as tomatoes, radishes, and peanuts. 

If you want to get the best out of all the flavours found in a single plate, sprinkle little bits of chilli and lime juice for an extra kick! Nothing is more refreshing than this light but flavorful salad. 

  1. Laab

Another salad makes it to the list! Taste the flavours of the northern Thai regions with this meaty dish. People enjoy it with mushrooms, chicken, and pork. Be careful, this salad is known to be really spicy so make every bite worth it! 

  1. Pad thai

Nothing else screams Thai than this rice noodle dish. This is another one of the country’s most iconic dishes that never gets old. They are best paired with slices of lime and shrimp. Get a forkful of sweet, salty, and tangy goodness! 

What makes this dish so special is that it can be found in almost every corner of Thailand’s biggest cities! Foreign tourists love them so much that they don’t mind walking through the bustling streets to get a plate of pad thai. 

Have our chef prepare other versions to satisfy your cravings! If you have any special dietary needs, please feel free to let our staff know and we will prepare your order just the way you like them! 

  1. Khao pad

Who doesn’t love good fried rice? Most Asian countries have their own versions of this classic dish. In Thailand, however, they like to amplify the flavours with lots of condiments and spices. We highly suggest adding fried egg to the mix to add more flavour. 

Comfort food doesn’t always have to be so hard to make. You can easily make this at home if you want to bring a taste of Thailand to your kitchen! 

  1. Panang

Thailand is home to a lot of curries and their panang is something every food lover should try at least once or twice! This dish is a lot milder than its other variants but you will still get a load of flavour in every bite. 

Tourists tend to order panang a lot when they are trying out Thai food for the first time. If you are new to the cuisine, we highly suggest going for this mild curry. We are you that you will not be disappointed. 

  1. Mango sticky rice

Another iconic dish is a dessert! Mango sticky rice is enjoyed across various countries in Southeast Asia but we believe Thailand serves them the best. No matter how many times you order it, you will never get tired of its gooey, sticky, and creamy goodness. 

Pair this delicious dessert with a generous amount of mango slices and shredded coconut. You can ask your server for extra servings of sweet condensed milk if you want. Tourists always order mango sticky rice and we know for sure that you will want more after your first try. 

  1. Tom kha gai

Chicken lovers will be delighted to try out this Thai coconut stew made of chicken, vegetables, and spices. If you want to taste the milder dishes, this is a good place to start. 

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