Thailand – A Brit of What You Like

Udon Thani street vendor

There are many reasons why people decide against holidaying in a country. They may cite the weather as being too hot, the country too backward, or perhaps not having a liking for the local food. A backward country baked in burning sunshine wouldn’t represent a problem to me, but a dislike of a country’s food might just mean me booking a vacation elsewhere.

I am still not the most ardent lover of Thai food but we are now slowing growing accustomed to each other. I now know the dishes I do like but still have a tendency to steer well clear of those I cannot recognize.

Irish Clock Udon ThaniThai food is one of the most popular cuisines in the world and there has been a huge influx of Thai restaurants here in the UK during the past twenty years. Thai cooking is favoured by many Brits but there is still a large proportion of us who prefer Britain’s more bland meals, and when we are on holiday we enjoy seeking out a taste of home.

Western Food in Thailand

The streets and markets of Thailand are filled with food stalls and small open air pavement restaurants serving the five fundamental ‘meat and potatoes’ of Thai food. Spicy, sweet, sour, salty and bitter dishes. Finding western meals and snacks outside of hotels requires local knowledge of the best restaurants or by visiting western bar areas which every tourist resort and each major city has.

Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket and all the other favourite Thailand holiday destinations have restaurant tastes to suit every corner of the globe. Taking your pick from the vast range of worldwide cuisines will literally leave you licking your lips in anticipation.

Pattaya alone has Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Indian, German, Scandinavian, Italian and French restaurants plus many others including Arabic, Swiss and my own personal sweetheart. Pattaya is full of  British bars with a menu on every table and prices that even at today’s money exchange rates offer excellent value.

The British bars will rarely get a mention in the ‘Good Grub Guide’ but a Sunday roast, fish and chips or a big hearty fried breakfast can make your stomach look a little fuller than usual on the beach, but it’s also the perfect pick me up therapy.

western food udon thani

Indian curries, pizzas, burgers and kebabs are hardly traditional British foods but nowadays in the faster paced and more cosmopolitan society we live in they are replacing more stable tried and trusted time-honored diets. Getting your fix from fast food restaurants in Thai holiday resorts and big cities is not a problem.

Big Mac is becoming as popular a word to Thailand’s youth as tom yum krung is to their parents. Every big city shopping mall has a combination of Pizza Hut, McDonald’s, Burger King and KFC. For the sweet tooth there are also Dunkin’ Donut outlets, but last year in Udon Thani I discovered one of Britain’s favourite fast food snacks at the local night market. Chicken kebab.

Thailand’s night markets are a buzz with cheap counterfeit clothes, fake watches, and the real McCoy and unforgettable smells of Thai cooking. The markets cater to Thai’s for whom the night markets are a main focus of their social activity. They are also great venues for tourists to pick up a bargain souvenir and a two-wash Lacoste t-shirt to showboat back home. Finding a western style snack can be a little more difficult.

When I first saw chicken kebab’s on sale at Udon Thani’s Centrepoint Night Market visions of golden crisp Thai barbecue chicken came flooding back to me. Thai grilled chicken looks really appetizing but the taste to me is not finger licking good. Whatever they marinate or coat the chicken with is not agreeable to me at all. I guessed the chicken kebab would be just as big a let down. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

At just 29 baht (£0.60p) or just under one US dollar the taste was sensational and I’ve been back many times since. The deliciously tasty kebab was proof to me that even away from the more tourist type areas Thailand’s markets can offer a taste of home if have a good hunt about.

Thai market foodThai markets can also leave you with some long lasting impressions of Thai food and a reminder to eat a good hearty western breakfast each morning before setting out for the day. Otherwise being caught hungry may force you to consume whatever is pictured on the right.

Some Thai dishes do put me off just by their look and this one achieved it from a few metres away. Then again, a lumpy western style stew or goulash may do similar to a Thai.

If you’re like me and you enjoy certain Thai dishes but at times fancy a Brit of what you like back home, rest assured Thailand serves a wide range of western foods and their standard is usually very good.

Book your ticket to Thailand, you’ll just love it.


I'm a sixty-year-old Englishman living in the town of Swindon in rural Wiltshire and I have a real deep desire to retire in Thailand one day. If you don't have a dream then you won't have a dream come true.

27 Responses

  1. john says:

    i certainly crave my English food in udon thani and always like to stop of at the Irish clock for the Sunday lunch its the dogs bollocks
    well hopefully roast beef
    i normally eat one western meal a day and the rest is normally Thai
    hoo don thanks for pointing out the kebabs i will take a look next trip into udon
    there is a stall down there where you may see a middle eastern guy working on a stall with is Thai wife try there food its just spot on
    he.s from Iraq and a decent bloke to boot sometimes you see him sometimes you don’t but he.s been around about 7 years that i know of
    my favourite falang meal of the day is a full English with black pudding at the Irish clock you don’t need lunch after
    .-= john´s last blog clock photo album udon thani thailand =-.

  2. Mike says:

    Martyn why on earth anyone would come to Thailand and head for the Irish Clock Sunday lunch I don’t know(mind you why would they head for the Irish Clock)? I have yet to try local “beef” although I fancy the real stuff is probably imported.

    Haven’t had an “English breakfast” since I’ve been here unless you include porridge which I do make with imported oats.

    All that said, I like Thai food, but like you I do choose, but I am also willing too experiment. I am also extremely lucky in having a cracking Thai cook in my house.

    By way of example(eating out) we went to Wanerkorn beach(National Park) today. 400 Baht at the food centre bought four freshly cooked dishes, rice and drinks plus an ice cream for Doy and a tip for the waiter.

    Fresh prawns, pork and squid with loads of vegtables. Great food and not a Big Mac in sight!
    .-= Mike´s last blog ..Wat Khao Daeng(วัดเขาแดง) Prachuap Khiri Khan =-.

  3. malcolm says:

    Martyn, loved you post and agree with you that as much as I love Thai food and as healthy also it is for you, I still get a craving for some good ole down home country cooking .Ciejay and me found this place in Kanchanaburi , that is a back-packers delight and most all the customers are tourist from elsewhere , and they have a great western menu and every week-in they have some great specials , goulash , one time and the cheesist mac and cheese you ever ate. also they make a mean burger and they bake all their bread and buns fresh on site. They also have very reasonable rates on their rooms for rent ,day week , or month. We have made it a almost every Sunday thing , right after church.
    I took a look at the stuff in the pan and had to turn away ,” I would.nt touch that with a ten foot pole “as they say where I come from.
    I think when you do get to move to the LOS full time (and I hope it’s soon) that you and yours should consider booking tours for your fellow Brits.
    If i didn’t already live here ,after reading this post I would be making serious plans to check it out , you’re a great PR man for Thailand. Malcolm
    .-= malcolm´s last blog ..FLOWERS and MORE FLOWERS and MANGOS =-.

  4. malcolm says:

    Wow , I forgot LOL —- the name of the place is THE JOLLY FROG . malcolm
    .-= malcolm´s last blog ..FLOWERS and MORE FLOWERS and MANGOS =-.

  5. Gene says:

    There’s nothing funnier than a Brit attempting to write about food.

  6. Hoo Don says:

    John I’m the same as you, I like one western meal each day. Before hitting the village we go to Tesco Lotus and top up with farang and Thai food. Steaks, chicken breasts, chips etc and whatever Wilai wants. I feel a lot more comfortable after doing that although the bill always hits the 3000 plus baht mark. I bring cheese from the UK with me every trip.

    I will lookout for the Iraqi guy on my next trip, thanks for the tip……Black pudding, now you’re talking. I sometimes take some over in my suitcase, it lasts for months in the freezer.

  7. Hoo Don says:

    Mike – Udon Thani doesn’t have a great deal of action for your typical farang and as far as the bars go the Irish Clock really stands out as the best about. The food is excellent and there is normally a few ex pats there. That’s always a good sign of a bars quality.

    Fresh prawns, pork and squid with loads of vegetables….Even at today’s low exchange rate, Thailand still has great value meals about. I like nothing better than seeing Wilai tuck into a good restaurant meal whilst I pick at something or other, I really do enjoy sitting at a Thai restaurant evening time with a couple of beers and chill the night away.

    Wilai is a good cook as well, I think the Thai way means they learn from a young age.

  8. Hoo Don says:

    Malcolm I certainly don’t love Thai food as a whole but certain dishes I really do enjoy. I would put a Thai green curry in my favourite top 10 dishes of all time, probably my top five.

    I know you love your Thai food but it’s nice to read you still hanker after the country grub of back home. I wouldn’t expect much else coming from a cowboy.

    As far as a PR business goes then that’s not really for me. I’m looking more into buying some land and planting a few rubber trees. 10 to 15 rai should do it but at the present exchange rate it will have to wait a few years. Maybe I’ll have gotten into wine by then just like you.

    The Jolly Frog is clocked and stocked.

  9. Hoo Don says:

    Gene – I’m glad you had a laugh about my food post. I kind of know where you’re coming from. Our food is somewhat bland and nowadays our favourites are all borrowed from other countries. That really does say it all.

  10. Talen says:

    Martyn, I can’t tell you how many of my Brit friends in Pattaya wouldn’t think of eating Thai food. They go to Kilkenny’s or the Pig & Whistle all the time…Pig & Whistle has an awesome breakfast. Later at night if they have the munchies they scope out the Kebab stands or get someone to call pizza hut.

    I’m still not that good with the hotter Thai dishes and some of those pots sitting out in the market make me wonder sometimes but for the most part I’ve had good luck with trying new things. Like you I love the green curry and the red curry has quickly become a favorite as well.

    I know I feel a hell of a lot healthier when I am eating just Thai food and a lot of fish. I do find myself missing the cheese though and what cheese is on offer in Thailand isn’t quite up to par.
    .-= Talen´s last blog ..Thailand in the News Week Ending 3/20/10 =-.

  11. Hoo Don says:

    Talen I’ve spent a lot of time in the Pig and Whistle over the years and I rate it as the best place for Brit food in Pattaya. I love the feel of the air con when you walk in there from the baking hot sun outside. And you don’t get hassled by any women in there, that’s a bonus at times.

    I love a Thai green curry and quite a few other mild dishes as well. On the spicy side I’m going to learn how to make a papaya salad on my next trip and then see how Wilai rates it. Pretty bad is my advanced guess.

    I think it’s always worth packing a couple of blocks of cheese in your suitcase (I do) because you are right about the quality of cheese and it’s bloody expensive as well.

  12. Mike says:

    Martyn I forgot to mention, after my mini rant about the Irish Clock, that Duen thinks the dish is either fish or pig parts, she did give me a Thai name, which I have forgotten.

    However she did say it didn’t look very nice!
    .-= Mike´s last blog ..Wat Khao Daeng(วัดเขาแดง) Prachuap Khiri Khan =-.

  13. Catherine says:

    Martyn, I’m with you on the Thai green curry. I will order varied selections, but a Thai meal for me is usually built around a green curry. I do like my food Thai spicy though.

    For eating at home, I focus on all healthy foods, no matter what nationality. Home is where the body rebuilds itself after having great times out.

    For eating out when not eating Thai, it’s usually British or Italian.

    The British Club has a traditional menu that is quite decent and not overly expensive – steak and kidney pie, bubble and squeak, spotted dick, sticky toffee pudding, etc. And of course, the second national dish for Brits – anything Indian.
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Red Shirts in Bangkok: Signs of the Time =-.

  14. Jungle Girl says:

    Hi Martyn, informative post as always. Great to get some perspective on the less appealing Thai dishes. Before I came here I considered myself pretty brave, but I am seriously daunted by a lot of it!
    Here’s hoping the even less brave try some of the street food based on your post!


  15. Hoo Don says:

    Mike – Thank Duen for the information, the photo is a bit clearer full size but still not that great. I am surprised she said it didn’t look nice, the pot and its like are a common site around and about Thailand. Thanks.

  16. Hoo Don says:

    Catherine the British Club sounds great and you say not too expensive, I always thought anything foreign in Thailand was an excuse to charge extortionate prices. That’s nice to read…… Bubble and squeak, you’ve planted a good village dinner in my mind and it’s going to stick. I love bubble and squeak, the more burnt on the bottom the better. Our works canteen makes an occasional pot of it for breakfast and you’ve got to get some quick because it soon goes. Sticky toffee pudding, that sounds mouth watering, I do like my puddings.

    Thai green curry is a winner but what amazes me is I’ve never seen Wilai and her family eat it. Wi makes it for me sometimes but nobody else wants to try it, I would have thought it would be a favourite amongst the Thai’s, especially in a village where it would be a rare treat. They all seem to prefer laab moo and laab neua. Wi does eat it (green curry) at a restaurant we often visit in Udon but never at home.

  17. Hoo Don says:

    Jungle Girl – How’s life on your island, paradise is my guess.

    Very slowly over the past few years I’ve been trying more and more Thai dishes and I must admit some of the milder ones I do enjoy. The spicy ones I only try if I’m in a bit of a reckless gung ho mood. I do eat occasionally off the streets but not too much, I prefer to eat at home or at a nice outdoor restaurant. Thanks.

  18. Camille says:

    That soup is pig intestines and actaully tastes really good, the Thai name is something like Kluang nai.

    A shop next to our house makes a clear broth version and I love it!
    .-= Camille´s last blog ..Koh Samui, Thailand daily weather update; 23rd March, 2010 [] =-.

  19. Hoo Don says:

    Camille your answer backs up Mike’s comment about it being fish or pig parts and thanks for the name of the soup. I’ll take your word that it tastes good because I won’t be trying it in a decade of Sundays. Thanks.

  20. Siam.Rick says:

    I come to food from a slightly different perspective. I am always trying to balance the day’s meals, making sure I get some veg, greens and protein (meat). I love noodle soup in the mornings with either pork or chicken. I feel rejuvenated. Afternoon, fried noodles with veg and/or meat, evenings a laab pork or chicken, or sliced chicken on rice or chicken fried rice. I eat mostly Thai when in LOS.

    The odd time I will go for a Burger King burger or chicken or fish burger. With fries, of course. McD’s is appalling, IMHO, even when drunk. I do like fish and chips but good ones hard to find in BKK. I love Indian food but have yet to try it in Thailand, which I understand has outstanding Indian eateries.

    I do find British pub food horribly overpriced, such as brekkie for 220 to 300 baht. Yes, now you know why I eat Thai food in the morning. 30 bt vs 250 bt. Hmmm . . .

    BTW, the pan of pig stuff reminded me of barnyard . . . . anyway, I steer away from those all-day pans baking in the tropical sun.

    Most people I have met who have visited Thailand rave about the food. I’m with them!
    .-= Siam.Rick´s last blog ..Happy 30th birthday, Tai Orathai! =-.

  21. Talen says:

    Martyn, I very rarely eat western food when in Thailand but I definitely hit the Pig & Whistle at least once each trip because they definitely have the best breakfast in Pattaya.

    Cheese is most definitely my downfall…I’ve heard of a couple of places in Bangkok that actually make their own cheese and it’s supposed to be great…will have to check that out my next trip.
    .-= Talen´s last blog ..Thailand in the News Week Ending 3/20/10 =-.

  22. Hoo Don says:

    Rick I agree with you on McD’s being appalling, but I do enjoy a KFC sometimes. Wilai likes to eat it with papaya pok pok.

    I’ve tried Indian food in Pattaya and it was first class and not overly expensive. As far as the breakfasts go then in Udon you can get a decent fried breakfast for about 130 baht but I know what you mean about Thai food being so much cheaper. There’s a place myself and Wilai go to for Thai breakfast sometimes in Udon and with coffee included the bill is about 60 baht. Amazing.

  23. Hoo Don says:

    Talen the P & W dishes up the best breakfast by far in Pattaya. You really should put some cheese in your suitcase, as long as it’s vacuum packed it travels well and there is nothing like an evening beer and some cubes of cheese. I think you’ll find the Bangkok cheese will be bloody expensive especially at 32 baht to the dollar. When is the baht gonna weaken, it’s crippling me.

  24. Catherine says:

    Martyn, the British Club is a membership club, so they are not trying to make ott money from their restaurants… so the food is cheaper than elsewhere. They went through a spat of awful food, but an Irish chef put them back on course. He’s since gone, but his Malasian first took over and she’s doing a great job.

    I’ve also noticed that Thais don’t often order green curry. Could it be because it’s not a low cal dish? Or is it more of a Central Thai dish, not a Northern?
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Thai Language Thai Culture: Telling Tails – Thai Ending Particles =-.

  25. Hoo Don says:

    Catherine – Good on the British Club, good home food at reasonable prices is a sure way to pack the expats in.

    I tried to track down the origin of Thai green curry but couldn’t get any definite information. It’s a bit sketchy but green curry paste may have Indian origins and been introduced to Siam during the Ayutthaya Period. Like I said sketchy. Going on that I’m guessing it’s a Central region dish.

  26. Catherine says:

    Packed in the back of my mind is that Thailand’s cuisine is a mixture of Chines and Indian, adjusted with heightened use of chilis, lemon grass and muckroot (and more).

    I googled and seems most agree:

    Approximately 4,000 years ago, the Thai people migrated from southern China to Siam (modern-day Thailand). Thai food is therefore influenced by Chinese cuisine; for example, the form of stir-frying (Phad). Thai uses its own spices, herbs, vegetables, sauces and cooking techniques to incorporate its own taste, which is different and unique. Indian cuisine has also influenced Thai food in the form of curry (Gang).

    How chilis came into being used:

    Chillies were introduced to Thai cooking during the late 1600s by Portuguese missionaries who had acquired a taste for them while serving in South America.

    I never connected Portuguese food with being spicy, but… good to know…
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Thai Language Thai Culture: Telling Tails – Thai Ending Particles =-.

  27. Hoo Don says:

    Catherine thanks for your own results from your voyage into Google’s deep dark black bottomless hole. I wonder what stretches further the universe or a Google search.

    Judging by the word Gang in your comment then I am going to upgrade my guess on the Thai Green Curry being a Central dish to a definite yes.

    The comments boxes of blogs are quite educational if you take the time to read them. Thanks.

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