Once a month, you and your friends go to your local Thai restaurant to keep up with the newest food trend. But are you really eating authentic Thai food? After traveling to many regions in Thailand for two weeks, I received a first-hand look at the heart of Thai cooking. Read more to find out what you should be ordering at your local Thai restaurants so that you eat true Thai cuisine.

1. Pad Thai

rice, egg, chicken, pad thai
Arianna Giaramita

Pad Thai is a classic Thai meal that is found all over Thai menus. This noodle dish includes eggs, tofu, shallots, and spices. To know if the Pad Thai, or any meal besides dessert, is really authentic, make sure fish sauce is an ingredient. 

2. Sticky Rice with Mango

sweet, cream, dairy product, mango, milk
Arianna Giaramita

Sticky rice with mango is one of the most renowned Thai desserts. To eat, pour coconut milk over the rice to soak the grain. Make sure each bite has both rice and a mango piece to have the perfect balance!  

3. Papaya Salad

pad thai, chili, papaya, vegetable, salad
Arianna Giaramita

Making this dish in a cooking class in Chiang Mai gave me a behind-the-scene peek. Because papaya is in season all-year round, you can order this whenever you're craving a lighter Thai meal. Biting into papaya salad tastes fresh, but - yes - this appetizer contains fish sauce.   

4. Khanom Buang

vegetable, carrot
Arianna Giaramita

Seeing Khanom Buang sold by every street vendor shows how this little dessert is a staple in Thai cuisine. Open to creative interpretation of the ingredients, the Thai crepe pictured above consists of raisins, shaved coconut, and golden thread (foi tong).  If you're looking for a quick treat, this will satisfy your tastebuds. 

5. Tom Yam Soup

broth, cream, parsley, vegetable, soup
Arianna Giaramita

Tom Yam soup combines savory, spicy, and salty tastes (thanks to the fish sauce) to form a well-rounded palate. The aroma is of sweet chile while the taste mimics lemons. Make sure you have a big appetite in order to finish this hearty bowl!

Even though I have only mentioned five authentic Thai foods, there are many more to try. Next time you are at a Thai restaurant, be on the look out for the true Thai dishes and steer clear of the phonies!