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Ordering a Larger Portion of Thai Food

Today’s post is not only for tourists to Sakon Nakhon, but also the expats who want to learn how to order a large portion of Pad Thai or other Thai dish. Dining at a Thai food stall or village food vendor is delicious and cheap, but portion sizes can be a little small for the farang with a hearty appetite.

What many of Thailand’s tourists and expats don’t realize is that Thai food portions can be a little small for Thais too. That is why there is almost always a special large size offered. This holds true for street food vendors and stands that sell Thai noodles. It also is true at many (but not all) of the more formal sit down Thai restaurants that provide menus at the table — just ask your Thai waitress.

Follow today’s Learn Thai language lesson and your days of complaining about small food portions is over. Here is how to order that bigger plate or bowl of Thai food.

Special adj. – พิเศษ  – phée-sàyt
I’d like a large Pad Grapao with a fried egg. Make it spicy.
ขอ ผัด กะเพรา ไข่ดาว พิเศษ เผ็ดๆ ด้วย นะ
Khăw pàd gà-phrao khài dao, phée-sàyt. Phèt phèt dûay ná.
[Request fry basil egg star special. Spicy spicy also (soften).]

Learn Thai Language Tip: Usually you can freely attach adjectives to nouns in the Thai language and be understood. However, this isn’t always true when it comes to Thai food, as there may be a special name reserved for the food item. We see this in the above free Thai language lesson where the Thai word for fried egg is literally “egg star” because a fried egg looks like a star.

As you keep learning Thai and your Thai language skills get better, you might find the Thai food vendor asking if you would like a large portion (Phée-sàyt măi?). If you aren’t hungry and just want the normal size, you might reply simply with a shake of the head and the Thai word for ordinary/common: tham-má-dah (ธรรมดา).

Our rhyme to help you remember today’s Learn Thai vocab word is: “Before the tea is set, you better order phée-sàyt!”


David Alan