Phrao District, Chiang Mai, Thailand
During my time living in Thailand, I have discovered a whole new array of snacks. One of my favorite activities is walking into 7-Eleven (yes, there’s tons of them here) and picking out a new Thai/Asian snack to try. Some I love, others I vow to never buy again. Below is a list of some of the best and weirdest I have had.
1. Potato Snacks
There’s a large variety of these snacks that come in potato chip bags that are made from potato but aren’t chips. Many have interesting flavors like squid or lobster- very different than your sour cream & onion or BBQ flavors. I actually really enjoy these though and they are always super cheap.
2. Kanom Krok (coconut rice pancakes)
A friend bought these once from the village market because she thought they were made with egg. Because they are fried, round and white in the middle, they do resemble a tiny fried egg type of food. However, after one bite you realize the texture is much mushier and squishier than you would expect egg to be. Plus, there is not much flavor but whatever flavor there is, it is definitely not egg. To be honest, I didn’t even know these little treats were made with coconut until I researched what they were. Because of their squishy texture and minimal flavor, I wasn’t a fan but apparently a lot of other people are.
Mangoes are definitely a Thailand staple. There’s mango flavored everything and plenty of ways to serve it. The most famous and delicious in my opinion is Mango Sticky Rice. Sticky rice is a common food here used for savory meals as well but in this case it is used as a base for mangoes and coconut milk. The combo of sticky rice saturated with coconut milk with mango on the side makes for the perfect dessert.
Mango shakes are another popular item that you can easily find on a street corner or at a street market. It’s just ice and mango (and sometimes sweetener or condensed milk) but the large availability of them here makes them unique to Thailand.
4. Banana Chips
Banana chips are nothing new to much of the world but since being here, I have eaten loads simply because they are sold everywhere and are so fresh. Even in the most rural areas, you can find perfectly crisp and sweet banana chips sold by a market vendor. Why? Probably because you can buy a large bundle of bananas for what’s equivalent to about 70 cents in USD.
5. Meat Sticks
Along any main road, at the markets and even in the most remote places, you can find a vendor selling cylinders or balls of meat on sticks. It could be pork, chicken, liver, fish, or some kind of animal fat or skin. I don’t know what the ball shape is for except that they may think it looks cool? It’s a weird concept and the meat tastes a bit different but they’re not that bad. You just have to be careful you know what you’re getting. I’ve had them a few times. Sometimes it was fine, like when it was pork for example, but the times I walked away having eaten chicken skin or liver, I was pretty disgusted.
Wafers are a frequented snack here. You can find a large variety at 7-Eleven or any local snack shop you go to. There are many sizes, flavors, and coatings, which often gives me a hard time deciding which to choose. One of my favorite ones I’ve tried is the coconut wafers. They are light and simple but have just enough flavor to be delicious. The most common ones are probably chocolate with different coatings. Some have caramel, some have nuts and others just have an outside coating of chocolate.
7. Fried Foods
People think Americans like fried food but I had never seen so many fried food options until I came here. Walking down the street or through a market, fried banana is probably the most common, aside from the obvious fried chicken. I’ve also seen fried sweet potato, fried meat of every sort, fried dough and just about anything else locals can get their hands on to fry.
8. Mini Cookies
Every market or convenience store I go to, there is an enormous variety of packages of tiny little cookies being sold. Some are simple like chocolate chip, some are knock offs of Oreos and others are original Asian cookies, like the ones below with the name brand “Dewberry” that are Thai-size and have some kind of fruit involved. I’ve tried a bunch of them since they are always so cheap and fun to try. The Dewberry ones have been my favorite from the beginning though. It’s rare that I leave a 7-Eleven without them.
Egg is made frequently and in every shape and form here. Many meals incorporate egg somehow and if they don’t, have no fear because you can always order a fried egg with it for something like 5 baht. You can find a lot of market vendors who sell fried egg with different ingredients mixed in as well. For example, I once bought some little fried balls that were made of egg and crab once. I added the delicious sauce that came with them on top and those are still one of my favorite market foods I’ve tried.
10. Banana Leaves
Anywhere there is food, there is food wrapped up in banana leaves. One of the most popular in northern Thailand is Khao Tom Mud, a snack wrapped in banana leaves with sticky rice, beans and banana inside. I’ve tried a few different foods wrapped in banana leaves and they have all been interesting but not my favorite. None of them have had much flavor to me. It’s like they leave all the flavor and excitement of the snack to the wrapping. It’s also a mystery of what’s inside because if you can’t communicate well with the vendor, you’re in for a surprise.