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Thailand Only: Local dishes with foreign country names

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Strange but true, there are many local Thai dishes named after other countries around the world even though they originated right here in Thailand. From main dishes to desserts, check out these quirky dishes in Bangkok.

Khao Pad American

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The dish is simply fried rice mixed with ketchup, a sunny-side-up egg, sausage, ham and fried chicken on the side. Legend has it the dish originated in the 1940s when a flight from America that was due to land in Bangkok was cancelled, resulting also in the cancellation of a breakfast and lunch booking at an airport restaurant. The restaurant manager then had to make use of the leftover breakfast staples such as sausages and egg, and named the dish “American fried rice” or “Khao Pad American.” Another version says that the dish was invented during The Vietnam War, when American soldiers were stationed in Thailand and wanted something that reminded them of home. Whatever the true story, for many Thais, Khao Pad American may evoke childhood memories as it’s quite a popular dish for kids. Try it while you’re here, as you will rarely find it elsewhere.

Lod Chong Singapore

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Lod Chong is similar to Cendol, which is a traditional Southeast Asian dessert that looks almost like green worms. It’s made out of rice flour and pandan and eaten with coconut milk and crushed ice. Strangely, this dessert isn’t specifically from Singapore--you can find it all over Southeast Asia including in Vietnam and Malaysia. The name of this particular variation can be tracked back to the first shop that brought this type of dessert to Thailand back in the 1960s. The shop was called “Singapore Restaurant” and as the dessert gained popularity, the so-called “Lod Chong from Singapore Restaurant” was shortened to “Lod Chong Singapore,” as it is known today.

Ka Nom Jeen

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“Jeen” in Thai means China, though, as you may have guessed, this dish does not originate from there. It’s also not technically considered “Ka Nom,” meaning dessert in Thai, as it’s actually eaten with main dishes. This fermented rice noodle is believed to be a traditional food staple of the Mon people, an ethnic group native to Burma, Cambodia and Thailand. The traditional name of this dish was pronounced “Ka-nhom Jin”, but as it spread throughout the region, the name may have been altered to “Ka Nom Jeen,” as it is widely known today. Each region of Thailand actually has lots of different names for this dish: in the north they call it “Ka Nom Sen” and in the northeast it’s “Khao Pun”.

Ka Nom Tokyo

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This cheap street dessert with a sweet or savoury filling was inspired by a Japanese dessert, that (shocker) did not originate in Tokyo. Some say it became popular when popular Japanese Mall Daimaru, opened their first Thai branch in the 1960s. When Japanese dessert Dorayaki (or Yatsuhashi) became available, Thais loved the pancake-like outer shell, but weren’t crazy about the red bean filling, so they invented their own take on the beloved Japanese dessert, and named it “Ka Nom Tokyo”.

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