Do you know how to order a bowl of beef noodles in Thailand? If you do, your lunch will be customized to your personal liking.
First start with the types of noodles, there are thin round rice noodles the size of angel hair pasta called sen mee. The next size is thin flat rice noodles or sen lek. This type of noodles is used in Pad Thai. The largest is fresh rice noodles, about half the width of lasagna (an inch). This fresh rice noodles are called sen yai, literally translated "big strand."
The next step is getting the meat that you like. Standard fare includes pork and beef. However, you can find chicken, duck and fish. We will concentrate on beef noodles here. For beef, your choice includes blanched (sod) and braised (piuay). If it is blanched, the pieces are thinly sliced. You may also want nam tok which is beef blood. If you desire for nice, soft, easy to chew big chunks of meat, go for piuay. However, this is not an easy way out. You can have tendon or just beef. Tendon is en in Thai. If you would like tendon, tell your wait staff at this point. Any type of meatball is called loog chin or known to noodle shops as chin. To add more complication, you can have tendon mixed in the meatballs or just pure meat, but standard beef balls are without tendon. So chances are that you will get just beef.
You can add a delicacy in your beef noodles by adding other parts of the cow. You might want to add heart hua jai and/or liver thub to your noodles. You will only get a thin piece or two of the delicacy.
Bean sprouts are not always loved. So, you have a choice of bean sprouts ngog or no bean sprouts mai ngog. Bean sprouts are called toa ngog in Thai but waiters and waitresses shorten it to ngog. Mai negates whatever that is in front of it. So, mai ngog is no bean sprouts. Now, that you've decided you want bean sprouts, you can have them fresh mai luuag or blanched luuag. Without any indication, you will get yours blanched.
Last is to add broth or not to add broth. If you want your noodles soupy, say nam. If you want your noodles dry, say hang.
Now you can order your noodles with confidence. Oh, only beef noodles. I'll tell you more about other types of noodles later. For now just practice, ordering beef noodles first. My favourite is lek hang ngog chin sod.