Cook-to-order seems like a general name for this type of food place, it usually has a regular set-up and standard menu to make it easier for you to order. However, if you ask Thais: “What is your favourite dish from Cook-to-order?” I can guarantee that they will come up with more customised dishes - Parita Nobthai of @thecrafthumpy
Back when I was in high school, I became accustomed to eating at a very popular “cook-to-order” street vendor, in Thai ร้านอาหาตามสั่ง, located across from my school. This place was always packed with customers and had many delicious dishes. The dishes I enjoyed the most were Holy Basil Stir-fried Chicken with rice, Oyster Sauce Stir-fried Beef with rice and Pad See Ew with pork. Sound delicious, right? And do these menus sound familiar to you? I am sure that these menu items are a predominant fixture on most menus in Thai restaurants around Australia.
อาหารตามสั่ง or Cook-to-order dish is also known as a single serving อาหารจานเดียว or Thai-style fast food อาหารจานด่วน as the concept of each menu needs to be simple, easy to cook and quickly enough to be served to the customers in rush hour and this is why they are located near town centres, schools, universities, government agencies and state enterprises. Most of Cook-to-order restaurants also provide delivery services and can handle hundreds of takeaway orders for special occasions.
It is a cheap and convenient option when compared to catering. The average prices for each serve of Cook-to-order dish varies from 10 – 35 baht ($0.50-$1.60AU)and it could be up to nearly 100 baht ($4.50AU) depending on quality of ingredients sourced. One of the most expensive cook-to-order experiences is at one Michelin’s star restaurant called “Rann Jay Fai” in Bangkok, where dishes costs between 500 to 1000 baht ($23 -$45AU).
In general, there are three main staple ingredients that we can see in the glass display and fresh meat is usually kept in an esky. First set of ingredients are meat: Seafood (squid, prawn, mussel, and crabmeat), pork, beef and chicken. Second is produce: Chinese broccoli, wombok, brown onion, baby corn, garlic, bird-eyes and long chilli, galangal, snack beans, lemongrass, tomato, kaffir lime leaf, lime, cucumber, Thai basil, spring onion, coriander and egg. Third is condiments: seasoning sauce, oyster sauce, vegetable oil, sweet soy sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar, salt, egg and pepper. Most of the shops also have century eggs ไข่เยี่ยวม้า, salted duck egg ไข่เค็ม, sardines in tomato sauce ปลากระป๋อง and crispy pork belly หมูกรอบ as their key ingredients.
Cook-to-order seems like a general name for this type of food place, it usually has a regular set-up and standard menu to make it easier for you to order. However, if you ask Thais: “What is your favourite dish from Cook-to-order?” I can guarantee that they will come up with more customised dishes. I am so curious to find out about it and conduct an easy survey among my friends, relatives and families to get the six most favourite dishes that they usually order at a cook-to-order restaurant ร้านอาหารตามสั่ง and the results for our top 6 are
As you may have noticed, fried egg is perfect partner with the top-three dishes. Thais usually have their own preferred way of how the fried egg ไข่ดาว should be cooked. My own-style of fried egg is crispy egg with a slightly undercooked egg yolk. We are lucky enough to have a cook-to-order shop that is always happy to cook the eggs the way we like them.
Another must-have and more popular ingredient for cook-to-order is หมูกรอบ Crispy Pork Belly. A big piece of crispy pork belly usually sits foremost in the glass display. The most frequently ordered item cooked with crispy pork belly are oyster stir-fried or holy basil stir-fried with steamed rice.
The reason why cook-to-order is still a place to go is because of the fact that it is freshly-prepared just for you and the special feeling that you can order what you feel like eating and how you would like it to be cooked. I hope this will give a bit of a guideline for your next food adventure in Thailand. If you have already tried a cook-to-order vendor, please share what your favourite menu item is in the comments below.
Parita Nobthai runs The Craft Humpy
"a homely place where you can get beautiful handcrafted gifts directly from the maker"
Check out her amazing work here!
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