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If you are new to Thailand, chances are you won’t have any idea what kind of food to order the first time you sit down at a restaurant here.  You could do the typical farang thing and hit up one of the many flourishing fast-food restaurants in town and stick with the comfortable and the familiar tastes from back home with the extravagant prices of being in Thailand, or you could be brave and bold and try something Thai.

Restaurants in Pattaya have menus that would drive Gordon Ramsay batshit crazy.  They are typically 50 pages long and contain every possible Thai dish that you can imagine.  The worst part of it is that the waitress stands there from the time they hand you the menu like you are supposed to have pre-planned which of the 7000 menu items that you would like to eat.

Chances are if it is your first visit, you will be flipping through and looking at the photos for something that looks vaguely edible or familiar, most of the people that don’t read this article will end up choosing something like fried chicken wings because it is hard to screw up a fried chicken wing.

Once you have been here for a little while you start to figure out what things are and it becomes easier to order food.  When Thais are hungry but not quite sure what they want to eat, you can almost guarantee that you will hear the words “krapao kai dow” coming out of their mouth.

The dish Pad Krapao is a mixture of meat or meats of your choosing mixed with holy basil and chillies.  The basil stir-fry is then put atop a mound of steamed rice and covered with a fried egg.

For newbies, this dish is a safety net.  I happen to be one of the pickiest eaters in the world, but I eat many different types of Krapao.  It can literally be any type of meat that the restaurant offers for the most part.  Krapao Chicken (Gai), shrimp (Kung), pork (Moo), Seafood (Talay) and Mixed (containing all of the above) are the most common choices in restaurants but some places offer speciality meats like rat (Noo Na), frog (Kob) quail (Nok) and crab (Pu) as well as several others.  Basically, if it is meat, you can Krapao it.

If you don’t wish to have your meal accompanied with the fried egg, leave the “Kai Dow” part out when you are ordering, simple as that.

Krapao can be ordered to a variety of varying heat levels from no heat at all to the fiery heat of an erupting volcano, the choice is up to you.   If you wish to enjoy your food without the tears, order your Krapao “Mai Ped”, if you want it a little bit on the spicy side but still bearable, order it “Ped” and if you want a dish that you almost can’t eat with a plastic utensil go with “Ped Ped”.

No matter how you take your Krapao it is delicious (yes, even the rat).  It is also a great hangover meal to snap you out of that blurry stupor from last night’s drinking.  Whether you are new here or have lived here for years, at some point in time you will probably end up trying Krapao and loving it.  May as well make it your first meal order instead of sitting around looking confused and bumbling through a menu as long as the Bible.

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