How to order noodle soup in Bangkok

July 16, 2019
Thanai Yuangsuwan

“How do I order soup?” may sound like a silly question, but there are lots of options when it comes to broths and meats and more in Thailand. We asked our local guide Nai in Bangkok how to place an order like a true Thai soup expert.

Noodle soup is called “kuai tiao” /gŭai-dtĭao/ in Thai. There are many different types of noodle soup dishes, so at first it can seem intimidating, but once you understand the options, it’s easy to order.

First, decide what kind of stock you would like. Some options are nam sai (clear stock), tom yum (clear stock mixed with lime juice, crushed peanuts and chili flakes), narn tok (clear stock mix with pig or cow blood, garlic, coriander, and basil), yen taa foe (noodle stock with red sauce served with fish balls, shrimp balls, deep-fried dumplings, tofu, dry squid, and morning glory), or mee giaw (noodles with clear stock and pork or shrimp dumpling and add with crab meat and topped with kale and deep-fried garlic).

Next up, choose your type of noodles: wide rice noodles (sen yai), small rice noodles (sen lek), angel hair or fine rice noodles (sen mii), yellow egg noodles (sen ba mii), or vermicelli or glass noodles (wun sen).

Thirdly, you can choose to have your noodle dish with soup or stock served together or served separately. Noodle dish with stock is called kuai tiao nam. Noodle dish without stock is called kual tiao haeng.

Lastly, season your noodles to your liking with the provided condiments. There are usually four things you can add: sugar, fish sauce (salty), vinegar with fresh chili, and chili flakes.

You may have heard that we eat blood soup as well. If that scares you, don’t worry, there’s only one type of Thai noodle soup that uses blood! It’s called naam tok, and it’s made with pig’s or cow’s blood. If you don’t want blood, just say “mai-aow-leuat” or “mai-aow-nam-tok.” (Fun fact: the word “nam-tok” means waterfall.) The only time you’d say “mai-aow-nam-tok” is when you are ordering noodle soup — say it any other time and no one will know what you want!