Throughout the near-month I toured Thailand, khanom bueang became my white whale of street food. I saw it constantly within my first two days in Bangkok, but suddenly, just as I decided I needed to try the puzzling snack, it disappeared into the depths of food streets nation-wide.
Khanom bueang drew my attention thanks to its familiar appearance — it’s a tiny taco.
Who doesn’t want to eat a miniature taco?
The problem for me was, I’m in Thailand, it’s obviously not a taco. More likely, it’s a rice-flour shell coated in sour cream with shredded carrot on top to give the illusion tacos are a thing you can easily access in Southeast Asia.
Spoiler alert: they’re not. However, this snack still exceeded my expectations if not for the taste, than for mere intrigue.
While the name in Thai is khanom bueang, it’s commonly known as a Thai crepe and tastes nothing like a taco, despite its appearance.
I finally purchased this tasty lie on my final night in Thailand. Spotting the cart, I stopped in my tracks and reached for my wallet, nearly losing my friends in the process.
For only 50 Baht (less than $1.50) I was given a plate of six small crepes. I passed them out to my friends and we all went in for a big bite, all with an instant and identical reaction: what in the world?
Not only are these Thai crepes nothing like tacos, they are sweet (although I have been told that some stalls sell savoury versions). Incredibly sweet to the point that even my chocolate/frosting/ice cream-loving self couldn’t handle more than one.
The “shell” was very similar to a normal crepe, but the white fluff we mistook for sour cream was some form of frosting loaded down with sugar. The whole concoction was topped with candied fruit, adding yet another sweet layer.
While delicious, khanom bueang was nothing I expected and definitely a street food that should be shared.