Street food is unmissable in Samui, and more generally all around Thailand. The concept of three meals a day - breakfast, lunch, and dinner - is not yet totally part of Thai feeding habits, with eating little and often, grazing throughout the day, still the norm. This is the reason why street food is so popular in Thailand. You can get something to eat at an affordable price almost anytime and anywhere.
Most Thai street food dishes on display below can also be found at standard restaurants, but sitting outside on a plastic chair to sample a snack on the sidewalk makes your dining experience pretty cool. In Samui, you can find Thai food stalls almost everywhere: along beach roads, near nightspots (such as Soi Green Mango in Chaweng or Central Plaza in Lamai), at markets and night markets, on walking streets – basically, anywhere you find crowds of hungry people!
Noodle Soup (Gwoy Tiao)
Thai noodle soup is made of a chicken, beef or pork broth and served with a choice of beef, chicken, pork or seafood. You can usually choose the shape and size of your noodles – wide flat, small wiry or medium flat – and add dry chilli, white vinegar or other condiments to spice it up (it’s usually served without much pep). A noodle soup bowl costs between 30 and 80 baht.
Papaya Salad (Som Tam)
Originally from Isaan, in northeast Thailand, this tasty cold dish has spread right across the country. It includes shredded green papaya, garlic, tomato, yardlong bean, peanuts and chilli. Preserved crab is often added to it. Papaya salad is usually served with barbecued chicken or fish, and with sticky rice (khao niao). An excellent variant with shredded carrot instead of papaya is also available for the asking.
Stir-Fried Noodles (Phad Thai)
Phad Thai is one of the favourite dishes of visitors in Thailand. These stir-fried noodles seasoned with fish sauce, lime, red chilli pepper, sugar and tamarind sauce (to which eggs, dried fish, tofu and bean sprouts can be added) are served with shrimp, chicken or pork. This hearty dish is simply excellent and generally priced around 40-80 baht per plate.
Originated from Indonesia, satay is a grilled or barbecued chicken, beef, pork or (very occasionally) fish skewer dish served with a peanut sauce. Before being grilled, the meat is marinated in turmeric, which gives its distinctive yellow colour. Delicious and easy to eat, this popular snack can be found at roadside stands all around Samui. One skewer is usually sold for 10 baht.
Rice Noodles with Curry (Khanom Jeen)
Kanom Jeen (often wrongly spelled Khanom Chin) are crisp thin rice noodles served with a spicy green or yellow curry, as well as boiled eggs and fresh vegetables. This tasty traditional dish can also be served with papaya salad instead of sticky rice. One plate costs about 30-50 baht and 5 baht per boiled egg.
Yellow Chicken Rice (Khao Mok Kai)
Yellow chicken rice originally comes from Malaysia and is served with fried shallots, sliced cucumber and a small bowl of clear soup. The yellow colour of the rice is made by boiling it with a mix of onion, oil, turmeric and garlic powder. The chicken is marinated with curry powder, turmeric, cumin, coriander and chilli powder. This dish is extremely flavoursome, and usually sold around 30-50 baht per portion.
Meat/Fish/Seafood Skewers with Sticky Rice
Barbecued meat, fish or seafood skewers are a classic of street food in Thailand. From chicken breast to entire small squid, and from sausage to pork slices, they’re sold at 10 to 20 baht per skewer. It’s simply delectable and really easy to enjoy while walking around a night market.
Chicken Rice (Khao Man Kai)
Chicken rice is also a classic of Thai cuisine. Originated from Hainan province in southern China, its name says it all: it’s a simple chicken breast with rice. The chicken is poached and the resulting liquid fat - mixed garlic and ginger - is used to cook the rice. It’s usually served with a chicken broth, fresh vegetable and a spicy sauce. This flavourful dish cost about 30-50 baht per plate.
Thai pancakes are a favourite for all those who have a sweet tooth. This flatbread originated from India and is one of the most popular snack for Thais and foreigners alike. Served with egg, condensed milk, banana, chocolate sauce or jam, this snack can be eaten at any time of the day and costs between 20 and 50 baht.
There is a new trend in night markets and walking streets around Samui: cocktail stalls. You can get a Mojito or a Tequila Sunrise served in a plastic goblet for 70-100 baht, and drink it as you continue shopping. Despite their low price, these street cocktails are often as good – if not better, and as potent as the more expensive mixed drinks served in trendy bars.