Monday 25 January 2016

How To Order Noodles In A Thai Noodle Shop

Have you ever been to noodles shops in Thailand and getting something the vendor thinks you want or wants to give you instead of really getting what you want?

Often, non-Thai speakers have trouble communicating with the vendor, so you end up getting what the vendor thinks you want, or just the "standard" dish, which is probably fine.

However, if you'd like to take control of what you're ordering and actually order what you want to eat rather than leaving it up to the mercy of the vendor, this guide is for you!

The Steps

1. Choose your noodles

Here are the more common noodles (kway tiew ก๋วยเตี๋ยว) you can get in a noodle shop:

  1. "Sen Yaiเส้นใหญ่  -  Soft, wide, flat rice noodles
  2. "Sen Lek"  เส้นเล็ก-  Thin, flat rice noodles
  3. "Ba Meeบะหมี่ - Yellow egg noodles
  4. "Sen Meeเส้นหมี่ or "Mee Khao" - thin rice noodles, also known as "bee hoon" & vermicelli.
  5. "Woon senวุ้นเส้น - Clear glass noodles. These are made from mung beans.
  6. There is also another type of noodle soup  you can get, that is getting a noodle soup without noodles! This variation is called "Gao Laoเกาเหลา 

2. Decide how you want your soup

  1. "Haengแห้ง, literally, "dry" - The noodles / extra bits are cooked in the stock, but served without the soup. 
  2. "Namน้ำ, literally, "water" - with soup
  3. "Yentafoเย็นตาโฟ   these are the pink noodle soup. The pink in the soup comes from fermented soy beans. It's generally served with "sen yai" (soft wide noodles) with morning glory and a cube of coagulated pig's blood. You can always take out the blood if you don't want to eat it (or ask for "mai sai leud" - no blood). 
  4. "Tom Yum" ต้มยำ  - The soup is pre-seasoned with lime juice, chilli powder, fish sauce and crushed peanuts, so tom yum noodles are usually quite spicy and sometimes quite sweet. I usually ask for "mai wan" (not sweet). You can also ask for "mai ped" (not spicy). This is usually available for noodles with pork or fish (not beef).

Ba Mee Tom Yum See Khrong Moo (Egg noodles, tom yum soup, pork ribs)

    For example, I mostly order "sen lek nam" (thin noodles with soup).

    However, when I have BBQ pork / cha siew and wontons, I always get "ba mee haeng" - yellow egg noodles without soup.

    3. Choose your meat

    Generally each noodle shop with have their own specialty. For example, a shop might only sell beef (and beef innards) noodles, some shop have fish balls and fish dumplings, other shops have BBQ pork/cha siew and wontons. 

    Beef Noodles:
    Generally, beef noodles contain beef, various beef internal organs (heart, stomach, liver, etc) and beef balls (look chin neur). If you just ask for beef noodles, you'll get everything (or whatever the vendor wants to give you). If you don't want certain bits, you'll need to be more specific! 

    Kuaytiew Neur ก๋วยเตี๋ยวเนื้อ / Kuaytiew Neur Ruam ก๋วยเตี๋ยวเนื้อรวม = the works! ie. beef + internal organs + beef balls
    Neur sod เนื้อสด= raw beef (quickly dipped in boiling water before serving, so you're not actually eating raw beef)
    Neur toon เนื้อตุ๋น  = stewed, melt in the mouth beef
    Look chin (neur) ลูกชิ้น (เนื้อ) เครื่องใน= beef balls
    Kreung Nai เครื่องใน = internal organs / entrails

    Sen Mee Nam Neur Sod  = Vermicelli noodles, soup, "raw" beef only
    Sen Lek Haeng Look Chin = Thin noodles, dry, beef balls only

    If you want to leave out something:
    "Mai Sai" ไม่ใส่ / "Mai" ไม่ / "Mai Ao" ไม่เอา = Don't put in... / Don't want

    Baa Mee Haeng (Neur) Mai Sai Kreung Nai = Dry beef noodles without entrails. 

    Pork Noodles:

    Moo sub หมูสับ = Minced Pork
    Kreung Nai เครื่องใน= internal organs / entrail
    Moo toon หมูตุ๋น - stewed pork
    Look chin (moo) ลูกชิ้น (หมู) = pork balls
    See krong (moo) ซี่โครง (หมู) = pork ribs

    Sen Lek Tom Yum See Krong Moo = Tom yum thin noodles with pork ribs. 
    (One of my favourites!)

    Note: Depending on the shop, not everything may be available.

    Fish Ball Noodles:

    Look Chin Pla ลูกชิ้น ปลา= fish balls (which may come in various shapes and flavours, and may not necessarily look like a ball)
    Kiew Pla เกี๊ยว ปลา = fish wonton / dumplings

    Sen Yai Yentafo. This will give you wide noodles, yentafo style with all the varieties of fish balls and wontons (if the shop sells them). 

    BBQ Pork:
    You'll see Chinese BBQ Pork/cha siew hung up in the cabinet in front of BBQ pork noodle shops. Sometimes these shops will have pork wontons as well. 

    Kiew (Moo) เกี๊ยว (หมู)  = Pork wonton
    Moo Daeng หมูแดง ="Red" pork / BBQ pork / cha siew

    My favourite is the Ba Mee Haeng Moo Daeng = Egg Noodles (Dry) with BBQ Pork. 
    If you want pork wonton and BBQ Pork: Ba Mee Nam Kiew Moo Daeng = Egg noodle soup with wonton and BBQ pork. 

    Sounds complicated? Here's a summary.

    You can save the picture on your phone and take it with you to noodle shops to try it out!

    Good luck and enjoy!

    PS. I forgot to mention that you can order the noodles in the regular size or large size.

    Regular size = tammada  ธรรมดา
    Large = Piset  (literally, special)  พิเศษ

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