It is acceptable to be quite picky about ordering your favourite noodle in Thailand... For some vendors, you can even choose the level of spiciness from one to ten, I personally stick with level four or five and never want to try to taste the level ten as the soup colour is dark red! - Parita Nobthai of @thecrafthumpy
There are plenty of noodle menus across Thailand. Guay Tiew, (Thai: ก๋วยเตี๋ยว) meaning noodle, was adapted from Chinese cuisine by Thais who created their own style of noodles, soups and other elements like meat balls, dumplings, slow-cooked beef, roast pork, crispy egg pastry and the like to perfect their own market point. Each noodle dish is different, even if it is the same style of noodle or even if it is from the same noodle franchise. There is around twenty-three different types of noodles as it’s considered as an easy and budget meal for everyone (Attakorn, 2016).
History of Thai noodles
It is believed that Guay Tiew was brought to Thailand by Chinese merchants in Ayutthaya era. However, Thai’s adjusted the flavours of soup and noodle elements to suit Thai cuisine and local ingredients found in different parts of the country.
Guay Tiew became a significant dish and was one of the interesting strategies that was applied to solve the economic crisis during major flooding in Thailand in 1930s. Noodle selling on the boat was one of a few options that civil servants and parliaments officers could have for lunch. At that time, Thai government under the leadership of Field Marshal Phibun Songkhram considered the financial and nutritious benefits of noodles and launched a campaign to encourage Thais to consume Guay Tiew, provide a noodle cart and a short course to train any Thais who want to own the noodle shop. Noodles turned to be widely popular among Thais and was promoted as being highly nutritious, cheap, convenient and a delicious meal for everyone.
How to order noodles in Thailand
It is acceptable to be quite picky about ordering your favourite noodle in Thailand. You can choose from different type of noodle (egg noodle, vermicelli, thin or big flat rice noodle)or no noodles at all which we call “Kao Laow” (Thai: เกาเหลา) There are also different types of meat balls (pork, beef, chicken, fish). You can have additions including crushed peanut, chopped coriander, chopped spring onion, bean sprouts or even soup on the side. For some vendors, you can even choose the level of spiciness from one to ten, I personally stick with level four or five and never want to try to taste the level ten as the soup colour is dark red! Remember that you always have the freedom to personalise your order. Moreover, most vendors provide the four-condiment set of sugar, chilli flakes, fish sauce and vinegar provide for both dine-in and take-away customers to flavour their own dish.
Guay Tiew is one dish you shouldn’t miss out on when you are in Thailand as not only it is delicious but it also went through a long history before it became popular and differentiate from the original Chinese noodles. Next time, we will get you to know the popular noodles from each part of Thailand such as Boat noodle, Khao Soi, Yentafo and Guay Tiew Sukhothai. Have a good weekend!
Parita Nobthai runs The Craft Humpy
"a homely place where you can get beautiful handcrafted gifts directly from the maker"
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