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Ordering Rice at a Restaurant Posted by on Nov 30, 2010 in Beginner, Culture, Intermediate

Considering all that rice in Thailand, you’d think ordering food with rice should be easy to figure out. ข้าว means rice, so you’d think if you said ‘I want it with rice’ you’d be set to go. But actually it’s much more complicated than you think. For example, if you order your food กับข้าว, which literally translates as ‘with rice’, you won’t get any rice at all! To add to the confusion, the กับข้าว option is the more expensive one, too!

It took me weeks to figure this one out.

When ordering food, you have three options when it comes to rice.

กับข้าว

This option means ‘no rice included’. Counter-intuitive! It’s typically the most expensive option as they give you more food instead of more rice. This is a common option when people order it as takeout, and already have rice back home. It can also be considered a ‘family size’ serving.

ราดข้าว

This phrase basically means ‘food over rice’. You’ll get rice with this option, and it may or may not be kept separate with the rest of the food. This option is cheaper than กับข้าว because it has more rice and less actual food. It’s considered a single serving.

ข้าวเปล่า 1 ที่

If you want a plate of rice to be charged as extra, use this option. Just say it after you order the dish.

Suppose you order something and the seller asks, “ราดข้าวรึเป็นกับ?” He’s basically asking if you want rice with it, or a larger serving without rice. If you respond by saying ‘กับ‘, it might be assumed you want it as take-away.

To avoid the takeaway confusion, you can say one of two things:

ใส่จาน

This means you want the food in a plate, meaning you’ll eat here.

ใส่กล่อง

This means you want it as take-away in a container.

ใส่ถุง

Put it in a bag for take-away, such as for soups, drinks, and oftentimes solid food that doesn’t have rice.

Now let’s make things efficient. Suppose you want two dishes as take-away and both includes rice. First, include the word ข้าว in front of the dish name. After you include the quantity, and add either จาน or กล่อง, depending on where you want to eat it at.

ข้าวเปรี้ยวหวานสองกล่อง

Two orders of breow-waan, both with rice, to go.

ไข่เจียวหมูสับกับข้าวใส่จาน

One omelet, no rice, to eat here.

For the second example, you don’t need to say ใส่จาน if it’s obvious you’re going to eat there.

There is one last example to bring up, for sticky rice, or ข้าวเหนียว. Let’s say you walk over to a street vender selling หมูปิ้ง. Well, it’s typically eaten with sticky rice, so you should imply how many bags of it you want. Just say:

หมูปิ้งสิบไม้ ข้าวเหนียวสอง

10 sticks of pork on a stick, and two bags of sticky rice.

Notice how I left out the unit word for sticky rice – this is acceptable for when it’s generally obvious.

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