Best foods to try in Ayutthaya, Thailand (2023)
When we’re not walking around to check out the ancient ruins of the old Siamese kingdom, we’re walking around to see where locals eat or searching the best places to eat based on reviews. After serious deliberations, research, and on-the-ground testing, we rounded up the following list of what we think are the best foods to try in Ayutthaya, Thailand.
Roti Sai Mai
Roti Sai Mai is a popular Thai dessert that can be found in Ayutthaya. It consists of a thin, sweet roti (a type of flatbread) wrapped around cotton candy-like strands of colorful sugar. The sugar is flavored with pandan, which gives it a fragrant, slightly nutty taste.
The name “sai mai” means “silk threads,” which is an apt description for the delicate strands of sugar that are wound tightly within the roti. To eat Roti Sai Mai, you tear off pieces of the roti and use them to pull apart the sugary threads. The result is a sticky-sweet treat that’s perfect for satisfying your sweet tooth after a long day exploring Ayutthaya’s many temples and historical sites.
Although Roti Sai Mai can be found throughout Thailand, it’s especially popular in Ayutthaya due to its proximity to Bang Pa-In Palace, where it was first served to royalty during the reign of King Rama V. If you take a bike ride around the Chao Phraya river, you’ll see many stalls selling this local delicacy.
Thai Crispy pancakes
Thai crispy pancakes are a popular street food in Ayutthaya, you know they’re there because you’ll smell coconuts as you walk through the night market stalls. They come in the Thai taco form or sometime you’ll see them look like takoyakis or small round balls with filling inside. They are made with a batter of rice flour, coconut milk, and sometimes mung bean flour. The batter is poured onto a hot griddle and cooked until crispy on one side. Then, it’s topped or filled with a sweet or savory filling before being folded like a taco shell or filled like a takoyaki.
For the sweet version of Thai crispy pancakes, the filling typically consists of whipped cream and shredded coconut or custard and chopped scallions. Savory fillings may include minced pork, shrimp or crab meat mixed with vegetables such as radish or carrots seasoned with soy sauce and sugar.
The best Thai Crispy pancake we’ve had was in Ayutthaya simply because they serve it fresh. They come in multiple flavours–coconut, taro, corn, pumpkin, and spring onion.
We found that Thai crispy pancakes are stale after being prepared ahead of time, and this is the case for most vendors in larger cities. It’s best to enjoy them fresh off the griddle while they’re still warm and crunchy on the outside yet gooey on inside – talk about an explosion of flavors in your mouth!
Boat noodles, also known as kuai tiao ruea or ก๋วยเตี๋ยวเรือ in Thai, are a popular dish among locals and tourists alike in Ayutthaya. These small bowls of noodle soups used to be served on boats that float along the rivers and canals that traverse the city back in the 12th century.
The dish is made with rice noodles, beef or pork broth, meatballs or sliced meat, bean sprouts, and herbs such as basil and cilantro. Boat noodles have a distinct flavour profile due to the use of spices like cinnamon, star anise, and coriander seeds in the broth. They are typically served with condiments such as chilli flakes and vinegar to add extra flavour.
One peculiar thing about boat noodles is their size – they come in small portions that allow diners to try several different variations without getting too full. New shops specialising in boat noodles now serve it in larger portions but you’ll still see the traditional shops serving it in the smaller bowls. There are two shops we would recommend for these savoury noodles: Pa Lek Boat Noodles and Crying Tiger Boat house.
Pa Lek Boat Noodles
Pa Lek serves the boat noodles how they’re supposed to be–lots of bean sprouts, in small bowls, and a bit on the spicy side. The heat from Pa Lek’s broth made us sweat twice as much. Despite the Ayutthaya’s already hot weather, we can’t get enough of the hot broth and we went for two more bowls. At 20 THB per bowl, you can go for multiple bowls without breaking your budget.
Crying Tiger boat noodles
Crying Tiger’s take on boat noodles is well-received given the good ratings they got on Trip Advisor. Their broth is less spicy, peppery, and on the darker side, which tells you how concentrated it is. Noodles are also a bit gummier making it more filling. If you’re hungry, you’ll also appreciate how large the portion is. It’s on the higher end of the price tag though at 95 baht, but we both agreed that given the portion and taste, it was well worth the price.
One of the most popular dishes in Thailand is Pad Thai or Phat Thai. It’s a stir-fried rice noodle dish that’s typically made with shrimp, egg, tofu, bean sprouts, and scallions. The dish is flavored with tamarind paste, fish sauce, sugar and chili peppers which give it a sweet and spicy taste. It’s then topped with crushed peanuts for added crunch.
Pad Thai can be found at street food vendors or restaurants all over Ayutthaya. Its popularity has even spread worldwide as it has become a staple in Thai cuisine internationally. It has come a long way since it was said that Chinese traders brought it to Ayutthaya in the 1700’s.
Surprisingly enough though, we didn’t see a lot of stalls selling Pad Thai in Ayutthaya so we ventured into the Hua-ro market, where we met cheery grandma who satisfied our Pad Thai cravings. She ushered us into our seats as she cooked the rice noodles with peanut oil and added in all the tasty ingredients.
Seeing her make it gave it a homey feel to it. She even added a lot of veggies and banana blossoms when she saw the first batch of veggies gone. I’m not sure if it’s the hospitality or the freshness itself, but that 35 THB pad Thai from Hua-ro market has been the best pad Thai we’ve had in Thailand.
We hope you enjoyed this post on the Best foods to try in Ayutthaya. If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check our other post on why you should visit Ayutthaya here.