Condiments are a really important part of the dining experience in Thailand. In many Western restaurants adding anything other than salt and pepper is often seen as a taboo. Not so in Thailand. For many dishes adding condiments yourself is expected. This is particularly the case with any kind of noodle dish.
The condiments for noodles cover the major taste groups in Thai cuisine: hot, sour, sweet and salty. The idea is that the diners themselves can decide how they want the noodles to taste. Generally Thai people will add a bit of each, taste the food and then add some more to get it perfect. There is something of ritual involved.
Herbs and Nuts
The things that will typically be added to a bowl of noodles doesn’t end with the contents of the glass containers on the table. It is normal also to add from a plate of herbs, in particular Thai Basil is normally added. For noodle soup and Phad Thai ground peanuts are also frequently added.
Of all the things which get added to noodle soup my personal favourite is bogs of pork scratching you can often buy separately. Pork scratchings in Thailand are not like the dense moist pork scratching from the North of England, but fluffy, crisp, dry and delicious. These get broken up and eaten like croutons.
If you want to eat noodles like a local, add everything that is on offer. The chef is guaranteed not to be offended!