Slideshow: Snapshots from Thailand: The Best Things I Ate

Coconut–Sticky Rice Pancakes
Coconut–Sticky Rice Pancakes
One of many sweet-savory treats at a Sunday floating market in Bangkok.
Floating Market
Floating Market
Fresh, neatly-contained food in a mobile venue? Sounds like a precursor to the food truck concept.
Fried Omelet
Fried Omelet
A wok-coating layer of beaten eggs is cooked until set, then filled with minced pork, bean sprouts, and aromatics, neatly folded up like a package, and quickly shallow-fried in oil. This officially ruined diner omelets for me.
Grilled Seafood in Bangkok
Grilled Seafood in Bangkok
Shellfish such as lobsters, langoustines, and giant prawns were being grilled all around Bangkok—incredible, given that it was 100 degrees every day.
Life-Altering Pad Thai
Life-Altering Pad Thai
An overstatement? Maybe. But as someone who's always felt lukewarm about Pad Thai, this was a game-changer: light, fresh, barely sweet, and full of wok char.
Roast Duck with Chile Vinegar
Roast Duck with Chile Vinegar
Yaowarat Road is the main drag in Bangkok's Chinatown, and this roast duck was a clear example of the Chinese influence in southern Thai cuisine.
Isan-Style Laab Gai
Isan-Style Laab Gai
The epitome of Thai cuisine's flavor balance, this chicken laab was full of lime juice, fish sauce, chiles, and roasted rice powder.
Blue Sticky Rice
Blue Sticky Rice
No food coloring here. The brilliant cobalt color comes from adding a local flower to the water as the rice cooks.
Chiles!
Chiles!
This is why Thai food is spicy.
Crispy Catfish Salad
Crispy Catfish Salad
Minced, battered, and deep-fried, the bits of catfish perfectly contrasted the raw produce and tangy dressing.
Pea Eggplants
Pea Eggplants
These little gems are local to northern Thailand. They're no bigger than large peas, but much heartier; their taut skins burst when you take a bite.
Curry with Pea Eggplants
Curry with Pea Eggplants
A spicy Chiang Mai fish curry featuring local eggplants the size of large peas.
Kao Soi
Kao Soi
The so-called national dish of northern Thailand: a brothy curry with steamed and fried egg noodles, meat, shallots, and pickled greens. This version was loaded up with fatty, bone-in pieces of pork, which made it much richer than versions I've had in the States, and in this case, the red color was a good indication of the heat. Delicious.
Moo Yang
Moo Yang
Barbecued slabs of fatty, tender pork—the neck, I believe—with a sweet-tangy-spicy dipping sauce.
Shiitakes with Butter and Garlic
Shiitakes with Butter and Garlic
Fresh shiitake caps stir-fried in a buttery, rich-tasting sauce that's loaded up with garlic.
Pad Se Ew
Pad Se Ew
Probably my all-time favorite Thai dish.
A Truckload of Pork Rinds
A Truckload of Pork Rinds
Literally.
Rambutan
Rambutan
As sweet as they are stunning.
Som Tum
Som Tum
The most well-known version: papaya, green beans, tomatoes, crab, lots and lots of chiles, peanuts, lime juice, and fish sauce.
Northern Laab
Northern Laab
Unlike tangy Isan laab spiked with lime juice and fish sauce, this northern version gets its bold flavors from warm dry spices and chiles. Also, the meat mince (in this case, pork) is much finer.