People ask us, where do you go for great Thai street food in KL? Well, we have five places that we frequent and love. Not just because the food is ultra spicy and tasty, but because of the humble set up and the authentic street food cooked by Thai residents in Malaysia. These are the closest dishes you will get to the thai street food, the sort you get in Thailand.
Here are our Top 5 Thai streetfood joints in KL:
1. Thai Somtam Seafood @ Jalan Alor, Kuala Lumpur
One of the best places for Thai street food in the bukit bintang area, is a small, unassuming restaurant on the top of the slope of Jalan Alor, called Thai Somtam Seafood. If you’re coming up the road from Changkat Bukit Bintang, it’s on your left, just after the lost cost hotel. If you turn right, you will enter Jalan Alor. The cook hails from Isaan Thailand, and the cooking is fantastic.
Thai food varies from region to region due to geography and history. In the West, most Thai restaurants serve Bangkok-style cuisine. The food of Isaan is famous for being very spicy and pungent, seasoned with fresh herbs and fermented fish (plah rah), featuring some of Thailand’s spiciest salads. The cuisine has more in common with that of Laos then the rest of Thailand, as Isan people historically have been influenced by their neighboring county’s culture and speak a dialect that is closely related to Laos.
Perhaps the most unusual feature of Isan food is their taste for water buffalo, and jungle creatures like rice-field beetles, geckos, lizards, frogs and sour red-ant eggs. Well we asked but they didn’t have that here;) Go for the Duck Noodles and the Tomyam Gung instead then. Both can be cathartically spicy so be sure to go armed with tissues, wet wipes and of course wear no more than T-shirt, shorts and flip-flops.
duck noodles – add your condiments.. I even add sugar to mine – you know they say, when in a Thai restaurant – do as the Thai’s!
succulent and meaty duck meat – not gamy at all
pad thai – a little on the moist side. Some places do it less wet
cathartic Tomyam Gung.. I found it just nice, but Cumi found it too spicy!
the cosy interior of Thai Somtam SeafoodAdd: Restoran Thai Somtam Seafood
88 Changkat Bukit Bintang
50200 Kuala Lumpur
+603 2145 8458 Non-halal
2. Lai Thai Market (Frame Thai) @ Happy Mansion Section 17, PJ
The next place on our list, is Lai Thai in section 17, now called, Frame Thai. This cramped little space functions more as a trader’s shop, for selling Thai imported food stuff. However, the owners decided to place a couple of long tables and chairs and voila, it became a coffee shop restaurant. The place gets really cramped and hot, so be sure to arrive early if you want a seat. Also, it’s not always open for business so that’s a bit of a put off, arriving and finding that they are not selling for the day, but hey, when it is open, the food truly is remarkably good.
Go for the Mince Pork and Chilli (Lap Mu) and the Thai Papaya Salad (Somtam) here. It’s super spicy, packed and fragrant with herbs. The Lap Mu is crazy tasty with bits of minced pork, pork offal, cartilaginous piggy ears, and so spicy you’ll be clutching your throat in pain and pleasure. The Somtam you should go for is the one with fermented crabs – this has a darker look to it, with a strong fish and shrimp paste flavour. It stinks like belacan .. oo heaven!
the lighter pork noodles, for those who cannot take too much spiciness in their food
The Lap Mu at Lai Thai is crazy spicy and can be eaten with sticky rice or normal white rice. We chose to eat it with our noodles because sticky rice is just too heavy. But the lap mu here is chunky, and I often see folks eating it with their hands -they take a chunk of sticky rice, and, using the sticky rice to cover the fingers, they grab a chunk of the minced pork, then stuff it in their mouths! Ah.. how heavenly. One day when I am carbo loading, I will try eating it like this!
Somtam with fermented crab
Green papaya spicy salad made from shredded unripe papaya. The dish combines the four main tastes of the local cuisine: sour lime, hot chili, salty, savory fish sauce, and sweetness added by palm sugar. The one to order at Lai Thai is the Somtam with fermented crab. Addictive, and pungent, you’ll find it hard to put down.
The ingredients are mixed and pounded in a mortar; the Thai name som tam literally translates as “sour pounded”. Despite the use of papaya, which one may think of as sweet, this salad is actually savory. When not yet ripe, papaya has a slightly tangy flavor. The texture is crisp and firm, sometimes to the point of crunchiness. It is this that allows the fruit to withstand being beaten in the mortar.
In Thailand, it is customary that a customer ask the preparer to make the dish suited to his or her tastes and it’s the same at Lai Thai. You can tell them more spicy, less spicy – I heard one lady say 3.5 times more spicy.. so go figure!
pad thai – the dry sort
money plant for good luck.. may it rain with good business!
Who would have thought that a quiet place like Happy Mansion would house such a terrific little thai restaurant?Add: Lai Thai Market (now Frame Thai)
AG-3, Block A
Tel: 03-7954 4688 Non halal
3.Baan Nok Thai Restaurant/ Thai Market Font @ Jalan Pandan Indah, KL
Baan Nok is a Thai restaurant located just above a thai gorcery shop called Thai Market Font, on Jalan Pandan Indah. The wife of Thai Market Font’s owner comes from Chiang Rai – she is the cook and the food here is awesome. This place is actually related to Lai Thai, so no wonder the cooking is so good. Of course Baan Nok/Thai Market Font came first – this place is way older than Lai Thai.
So what should you eat here? We love the somtam, the green curry, the tomyam gung.. and the thai desserts, though in all honesty, everything on the menu is good here. The somtam at Baan Nok is the lighter sort with loads of lime, sugar, groundnuts and makes it really good for the hot weather. There are grilled sausages, dried fish, all sorts of pickled vegetables, which you can select down stairs and even the somtam is made downstairs and sent up to the restaurant.
the Thai grocery store called Thai Market Font is situated in Pandan Indah. Baan Nok is upstairs
At the shop front, the lady prepares the Somtam and cuts up the sausages to be served upstairs
fabulous chicken green curry – thick and rich in fresh santan
Tomyam Gung – again mega spicy!
We love the Tako here. The tako is rich, decadent and filled with crunchy water chestnuts!Add: Restoran Baan Nok 43A, Jalan Pandan Indah 4/6B
55100 Kuala Lumpur.
4. Kolam 77, Restoran Sawadee 88 @ Jalan Chan Sow Lin, KL (Closed)
The Fishing Village that houses a nice little Thai restaurant
Thai pandan leaf chicken
Thai style otak-otak oozing seafood freshness and sweetness
Thai style steamed squid in chili hot, sweet and sour sauce. The mint leaves and basil made this dish phenomenally good
Restoran Sawadee 88,
Jalan 5, Off Jalan Chan Sow Lin,
5. Veg Fish Farm Thai Restaurant @ Hulu Langat
Follow that road till you hit a clearing and Lo and behold, the huts.
And these, folks, are the Thai street food joints that we truly enjoy in KL… what are yours?Add: Veg Fish Farm Thai Restaurant,
KM4 Jalan Ampang
Hulu Langat, Ampang
Tel: 012-286 8193/William, 019-260 6493/Eugene
Business hours: 11am to 11.30pm, daily