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MSG in Thai Restaurants in Thailand (Misconceptions)

For decades, people in the West have associated the consumption of MSG with a wide variety of ailments. However, as journalist Alex Renton wrote in his MSG expose in the Guardian: “If MSG is so bad for you, why doesn’t everyone in Asia have a headache?” Renton’s article (which you can read here) is a fascinating and detailed look at the history of MSG and its supposed side-effects, which never have been supported by any serious scientific studies but merely anecdotal evidence.

When it comes to MSG in Thai restaurants in Thailand, including Sakon Nakhon restaurants, we have to admit that we are not objective observers. Currently we are cultivating a Thai noodle habit that has involved the eating of gŭay-dtĭo (Thai noodle soup) for lunch on 26 of the last 30 days. Whether this latest Thai food addiction is attributable to excessive MSG by the noodle shop cook or some bewitching love potion remains a matter up for debate — but frankly we don’t much care because it’s delicious!

Like the Chinese, the Thais (and pretty much everyone in Asia) do like to get their MSG groove on. However, we can understand how you might not buy into the whole MSG isn’t harmful attitude during your sojourn in Thailand. There are, in fact, increasing numbers of wealthier Thais who frown on the use of MSG. So, some restaurants in Thailand, such as Ban Suan Phu, state that they use no MSG in their dishes. And when it comes to other Thai restaurants, here is how to finish off your Thai food order with a request for no MSG — even though your taste-buds will hate you for it.


MSG (Mono Sodium Glutamate) n. – ผงชูรส – phŏng-choo-rót

ไม่ใส่ผงชูรสนะ ผมแพ้

Mâi sài phŏng-choo-rót ná. Phŏm pháe.

Not with MSG, okay? I be-allergic.

Don’t put any MSG in it, okay? I’m allergic.


Thai Language Tip: The Thai word for MSG (phŏng-choo-rót) doesn’t mean Mono Sodium Glutamate in a scientific sense. It is composed of the word phŏng (which means powder) and choo-rót (which means flavor). There are actually two kinds of MSG used in Thailand, and many food stalls use both in the preparation of Thai food. To experience genuine Sakon Nakhon cuisine like the natives do, we suggest throwing caution to the wind and don’t get freaked out about the MSG.

Now that you have learned about Thai MSG, how about learning how to order Thai noodle soup without the blood? Go to: Thai Noodles.