Saw a couple of tourists trying to order noodles and their faces were full of total puzzlement, I hope this helps. (Note: all the various pictures came from the web, none of them are mine).
There are several types of ‘noodles based meal’ that you’ll see on the streets of Bangkok, for example, Duck noodles, Fish dumpling noodles, Beef Noodles, Goose Noodles, Pork Noodles and so on, but the ordering process is almost the same. Hopefully it will make your life a little easier when you want to order some noodles in Thailand :)
First Step: The Sequence
There is a sequence to the ‘order’, just like Starbucks, “Grande (Size), Decaf – Latte (Drink)”, of course it isn’t wrong to say it differently but it will help to get your message across especially when one doesn’t know the language well.
The Sequence is a simple one
#1 [‘Type of Noodles’] +
#2 [‘Dry or Wet (no soup or in soup)’] +
#3 [Additional Information, such as ‘No Beansprouts’ or ‘TomYam’ (will get into this later), and etc.] +
#4 [‘Special’ or ‘Normal’ (meaning extra or normal portion]
In short: Noodles Type + Soup? + additional info. + Special?
That is the gist of it, 4 commands in all, very simple trust me…
#1 Type of Noodles
Ba Mhee = Yellow thin round noodles (made with eggs)
Comes in two type, most common ones are round egg noodles, the other is just flatter.
Sen Mhee = White thin round noodles
Sen Lhek = White flat small size noodles (Lhek means small)
Sen Yai = White flat ‘wider’ noodles (Yai means big)
Woon – Sen = Glass Noodles (transparent, made from green beans, no carb :) )
Sen Mama, plain and simple it’s one of those instant noodles’ noodles.
#2 Hang or Nam? (No Soup or with Soup)
Hang means ‘dry’ and Nam means ‘liquid/water’, so after choosing your type of noodles you’ll have to choose if you want your noodles without soup or with (in) soup. Of course you can also have your noodles without soup and have your soup as a separate dish (for free, although some may charge a little).
Let say I have chosen Ba Mhee (egg noodles)
This is Ba Mhee Hang (a direct translation is ‘Egg noodles Dry’)
This is Ba Mhee Nam (a direct translation is ‘Egg noodles Liquid/Water’)
#3 Additional Information
After the noodles + soup/no soup it is time for #3 ‘Additional Information’, this is where you put in all your little quirks, to put it in ‘Starbuck’s language’ it would be like ‘low fat, one equal and etc.’.
These are some of the common ‘special order’
- No Beansprouts
- No Vegetables
- Only round fishball dumpling
- No Garlic
- Not too much soup
- Tom Yam (all the spices (hot) will be added so there is no need for you to add anything else)
If you don’t have any special demands that just skip this and go straight to #4.
#4 Pee-Ses or Tam-ma-dar (Special or Normal/Standard)
This final direction has to do with the portion ‘Pee-ses’ (Special) means extra portions and in general they will charge you 5 to 10 THB more, and ‘Tam-ma-da’ (Normal/Standard) means standard portion and pricing.
Moreover, you can order ‘specific’ type of extra portion, such as extra noodles, extra duck or extra fishball dumplings and so on.
There is no need to say ‘Tam-ma-da’ each time, your order will assume to be ‘standard’ unless you say ‘Pee-ses’
Summary and Additional information
- Ba Mhee + Nam + No Beansprouts
- Sen Mhee + Hang
- Sen Yai + Nam
- Woon Sen + Hang + Pi Ses
Etc… enjoy :)
The above four steps #1 + #2 + #3 + #4 should get you what ever you want, just don’t go to a duck noodles place and order noodles with fishball dumplings, lol. All of the noodle shops will have their ingredients display in front of the shop, if you see a duck then it is a duck noodle shops no need to try to read the signs :)
‘Yen-ta-four’, these are common enough for me to tell you about it, this is a ‘fish’ based noodles dish but they added red bean curd, and it comes with ‘morning glory’ vegetables and squids. So if you see red noodles dish either with or without soup it will be probably be a ‘Yen ta four’.
Not all shops sells Yen ta four, you’ll just have to look around. To order this, your first command will have to be, ‘Yen – Ta – Four’ then follow by your #1 + #2 + #3 + #4 direction, simple enough.
Of course there are more to it than it is written here, you’ll just need to be adventurous and don’t be shy, people will always wanting to help and because all of the ingredients are more than often, all out for you to see, you can just point and see what you get :)