Best Thai Food Portland, OR – 16 Best Thai Food You Must Try

Are you looking for delicious Thai food near you? Portland loves its Thai food and there is definitely no shortage of options for delicious Thai food in the Portland area. To help you, we’ve compiled a list of our current favorite dishes in Thailand.

Portland has one of the best Thai food scenes in the nation, and it’s no secret. The New York Times highlights Portland and Los Angeles as the leaders of the American renaissance of Thai food, led by Chef Earl. Regionally Ninsom and in once historical settings in terms of Thai cuisine and Nong Poonsukwattana’s beloved simple Khao Man Gai, Portland Thai chefs have achieved celebrity status by opening up the sale of sauces in grocery stores and building restaurant empires.

Thai takeout is a fundamental part of many Portlanders’ dining rituals, and in many cases, the mandatory switch to takeout and home delivery has not changed these weekly traditions. Finding a good spot for Khao Soi or Pad Kee Mao wasn’t too difficult a task even during a pandemic.

Best Thai Foods That You Should Eat In Portland:

Following are the best Thai foods that everyone should taste when going for a visit to Portland.

1. Pad Thai (Thai Style Fried Noodles):

Pad thai is one of  Thailand’s national dishes and is a go-to for tourists who are starting out their Thai cuisine exploration. Pad thai is available on almost every street corner and is a cheap and tasty meal.

Ingredients: Pad thai is a fried noodle dish that is usually made with shrimp or chicken, however, the vegetarian option is popular too.

 

Gaeng Daeng (Red Curry):

Gaeng Daeng is an aromatic red curry containing meat, red curry paste, and smooth coconut milk, along with a sprinkling of sliced kaffir lime leaves on top. Despite its striking color, Daeng Daeng is quite mild though you can request fresh chili if you’re in the mood for spicy foods. Vegetarians or vegans can still enjoy this curry by asking the chef to replace the meat with tofu.

Ingredients: Made with morsels of meat, red curry paste, and smooth coconut milk and topped off with a sprinkling of finely sliced kaffir lime leaves, this rich, aromatic curry always gets those taste buds tingling.

At its best when the meat is stunningly tender, it could be likened to a beautiful woman: it’s mild, sweet, and delicately fragrant. And like all true love affairs, absence makes the heart grow fonder.

 

2. Pad Thai (Stir-fried Rice Noodle):

Pad Thai (Stir-fried Rice Noodle)

From Cape Town to Khao San Road, the default international Thai dish!

Ingredients: Dropped in a searing hot wok, fistfuls of small, thin, or wide noodles (you choose) do a steamy minute-long dance alongside crunchy bean sprouts, onion, and egg, before disembarking for the nearest plate.

A truly interactive eating experience, half its fun (and flavor) lies in then using a quartet of accompanying condiments – fish sauce, sugar, chili powder, and finely ground peanuts – to wake it from its slumbers.

 

3. Khao Pad (Fried Rice):

Fried rice, egg, onion, a few herbs – nothing more, nothing less. A popular lunch dish served typically with a wedge of lime and slices of cucumber, the secret of this unpretentious dish lies in its simplicity. The concept is this: you’re the one devouring it, so you dress it.

Ingredients: To do so, Thais use everything from prawns, crab, or chicken to basil, chili, and left-over vegetables, in the process turning an unremarkable pauper into a gastronomic prince!

 

4. Pad Krapow Moo Saap (Fried Basil and Pork):

Pad Krapow Moo Saap (Fried Basil and Pork)

An incredibly popular ‘one plate’ dish for lunch or dinner, fried basil and pork is certainly one of the most popular Thai dishes.

Ingredients: It is made in a piping hot wok with lots of holy basil leaves, large fresh chili, pork, green beans, soy sauce, and a little sugar. The minced, fatty pork is oily and mixes with the steamed white rice for a lovely fulfilling meal. It is often topped with a fried egg (kai dao). You will most likely be asked if you would like an egg with it.

Be aware that most Thai people ask for lots of chilies in this dish so if you are not a fan of tingling lips, ask for your pad kra pow ‘a little spicy’.

 

5. Guay Teow (Noodle Soup):

Guay Teow is arguably one of the most popular Thai dishes and can be found almost everywhere. Guay Teow describes any type of noodle soup.

Ingredients:  It can be made with chicken, pork, or beef (rarely vegetarian-friendly) as well as either rice noodles or egg noodles. Most of the time, vendors also add wontons or meatballs to the broth. The dish is best topped with a selection of condiments including, sugar, dried chili peppers, lime juice, and fish sauce.

Guay Teow can be eaten at any time of day and is particularly good as a late-night snack.

 

6. Tom Yum Goong (Spicy Shrimp Soup):

Best Thai Food Portland - Tom Yum Goong (Spicy Shrimp Soup)

This iconic bowl of steaming goodness is bold, aromatic, and comes with a fairly strong spicy kick.

Ingredients: Tom yum Goong is created with quintessential Thai ingredients like lemongrass, chili, galangal, kaffier lime leaves, shallots, fresh lime juice, and plenty of fish sauce. Fresh prawns and mushrooms are added and coconut cream if you want the creamy version.

It is a versatile dish that can fit within virtually any meal, the distinctive smell reminds you of exotic perfume, and while its invigorating sour-spicy-hot taste just screams ‘Thailand’!

 

7. Tom Kha Gai (Chicken in Coconut Soup):

Tom Kha Gai is related to tom yum and offers people with a lower tolerance to spice the opportunity to taste the same beautiful flavors. Besides the spice scale, Tom Kha Gai is also unique in that it typically comes with lots of creamy coconut milk creating a rich sweet soup. Like most Thai foods, vegetarian options are easily adaptable by substituting a few ingredients.

Ingredients: A mild, tamer twist on Tom Yum, this iconic soup infuses fiery chilies, thinly sliced young galangal, crushed shallots, stalks of lemongrass, and tender strips of chicken. However, unlike its more watery cousin, lashings of coconut milk soften its spicy blow. Topped off with fresh lime leaves, it’s a sweet-smelling concoction, both creamy and compelling.

Tom Kha kai could be the best Thai food for people who are not so keen on chili dishes and could also offer them the same quality taste of Thai freshness.

 

8. Som Tam (Spicy Green Papaya Salad):

Som Tam (Spicy Green Papaya Salad)

 

Som tam hails from Isaan in Northeastern Thailand and is one of the most popular dishes in Thailand.

Ingredients: Som tam comes in a variety of styles, however, the classic som tam consists of shredded green papaya, tomatoes, carrots, peanuts, dried shrimp, runner beans, palm sugar, tamarind pulp, fish sauce, lime juice, garlic, and plenty of chilies.

The ingredients are mixed together using a mortar and pestle, which amplifies the flavors into a super moreish dish. Regional variations throw peanuts, dry shrimp, or salted crab into the mix, the latter having a gut-cleansing talent that catches many newcomers by surprise!

 

9. Yam Pla Dook Foo (Fried Catfish with Green Mango Salad):

‘Fluffy’ and ‘crispy’ might be the best words to describe this dish.

Ingredients: Catfish is fried in teeny tiny pieces (read “blown up”) creating an airy, fluffy, and scrumptious fish salad. The secret to this dish is the pairing of the crispy fish with sweet, sour, and spicy green mango salad. This dish is best enjoyed as an appetizer with a group of friends or as a beer snack.

 

10. Yam Talay (Spicy Seafood Salad):

Best Thai Food Portland - Yam Talay (Spicy Seafood Salad)

This mixed seafood salad is not only delicious but is also a healthy meal option.

Ingredients: Depending on where you are, this salad can have any combination of squid, shrimp, mussels, scallops or crab meat in it. Added to the seafood medley are tomatoes, onions, and rice glass noodles for good measure.

 

11. Laab (Spicy Salad):

Laab is a northeastern-style salad with meat or mushroom and mint which originates in the northeastern province of Isan.

Ingredients: Laab comes in a variety of styles including chicken, pork, and mushroom. It is not recommended for those who can’t handle spice as it tends to come with a hefty kick.

 

12. Khao Soi (creamy coconut curry noodle soup):

Khao Soi (creamy coconut curry noodle soup)

Arguably the quintessential northern Thai dish, Khao soi is a Burmese-inspired coconut curry noodle soup. Available in chicken, beef, pork, or vegetarian options.

Ingredients: This mouthwatering dish has a rich coconut curry base, boiled egg noodles, and is garnished with deep-fried crispy egg noodles, pickled mustard greens, shallots, lime, and ground chilies fried in oil.

Khao soi should be on every travelers’ ‘must eat’ list in northern Thailand with Chiang Mai being considered the khao soi mecca.

 

13. Kai Med Ma Muang (Chicken with Cashew Nuts):

Kai med ma Muang is loved by locals and foreigners alike.

Ingredients: This sweet and flavourful dish is stir-fried chicken with cashew nuts, soy sauce, honey, onions, chilies, pepper, mushrooms, basically whatever vegetables the chef has on hand.

Simple, yet very tasty.

 

14. Kai Jeow (Thai Omelette):

Kai Jeow (Thai Omelette) - Best Thai Food Portland

Kai jeow is one of the simplest Thai dishes but is a great protein-rich quick meal on the go or accompanying dish.

Ingredients: The ingredients include rice, egg, and some fried vegetables. Kai jeow is usually served on rice and served with sweet chili sauce. Ask for “kai jeow pak” if you would like some vegetables added to your Thai omelet.

If you’re new to Thailand and haven’t embraced “jok” (Thai rice soup) for breakfast, kai jeow can be a great way to start your day.

 

15. Kao Niew Ma Muang (Mango and Sticky Rice):

Looking for dessert? Look no further than the all-time crowd-pleaser of mango and sticky rice.

Ingredients: Kao niew ma muang is simple but extremely delicious, made with sticky rice, fresh mango slices, and lashings of sweet condensed milk.

 

FAQ’s:

Why does Thai food smell bad?
It’s the fish sauce or possibly shrimp paste, which is often an ingredient in Thai chili paste, such as red chili paste, which is used in pad Thai. Both fish sauce and shrimp paste are fermented and when cooked, they blow off their bad smell (in an odorous cloud), and after that, they smell rich and appetizing.
What is special about Thai food?
Thai food often pairs hot spices with sweet, light citrus flavors like lime and mango. The signature peanut sauce is somewhere between sweet and savory and adds depth to any dish. The layered flavors of Thai food make each dish feel completely unique and is what sets it apart from dishes in other Asian cuisines.
Why Thai food is so popular?
Thai food is one of the most popular cuisines in the world and is liked for its distinct and strong flavors. It is both healthy and tasty. Thai food is healthy; a lot of green vegetables and herbs are used in it. It is a blend of sweet, bitter, sour, and salty flavors.
Is Thai food bad for you?
“Chicken Pad Thai is one of the worst dishes you can order at a Thai restaurant. Thai cooks commonly use coconut oil, palm oil, peanut oil, or soybean oil, and while coconut oil can have some benefits, it is high in saturated fat, which can be bad for your heart if used in excess.
Is Thai food good for weight loss?
Thai food is fairly healthy and good for weight loss. In fact, many Westerners tend to lose between 3% and 5% of their body weight in 1-2 months if they switch from Western foods to Thai foods.

 

Our Verdict:

All of the above are the best Thai dishes you must eat when visiting Portland.

As a popular international cuisine, Thai food is characterized by its freshness, exotic fragrances, and extravagant spices. The best Thai food includes Pad Thai and Thai Fried Rice. However, there are many other delicious dishes that you need to order such as various Thai curries, a hot Thai hot pot, and a spicy shrimp soup.

All are ready to delight your taste buds to the extreme.

 

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