1. Goong Ten
With a name that literally means "dancing shrimp," you'd better believe this dish is alive. A frenzy-filled salad, goong ten is mixed in a metal bowl while the transparent little shrimp attempt in vain to wiggle their way to freedom.
Why some people love it: I'll be the first to admit that a spoonful of the dancing critters is both entertaining and delicious. After taking a bite, the shrimp rupture with saltiness and climax with a pleasant crunch.
2. Larb Leuat Neua
This dish basically consists of dull red raw beef embellished with sprigs of mint. But since the beef is not bloody enough on its own, the salad is fortified with a thick dressing of extra raw blood.
It goes against what most of us consider common dining knowledge: it's not safe to eat raw beef mixed with uncooked blood.
Why some people love it: Nothing says manly like a spoon full of spiced blood paired with a nice big mug of ice-filled beer.
3. Som Tam Hoy Dong
Whether it's the idea of eating fermented oysters soaked in blood red goop or the fear of eating a dish that is almost certain to result in a severe case of diarrhea, most foreigners and even quite a few Thais are reluctant to dine on som tam hoy dong.
Why some people love it: Judging by the fans of this dish that I've spoken with, the appeal of fermented oysters most likely develops in the early childhood years and sticks with them for life.
4. Gong Chae Nam Pla
Raw mantis prawns soaked in fish sauce are a mean looking dish. Their claws, tentacles and bulging eyes stare at you as you attempt to slurp down their slimy flesh.
To make the experience even worse, it's very easy to stab yourself as you reach your tongue into the shell to suck it all down.
Why some people love it: It's salty, fishy, spicy and slimy. If you find that combination of textures and tastes is alluring, you'll love goong chae nam pla.
5. Larb Mote Daeng
Red ants and their eggs are prized trophies in a number of Thai dishes.
Blindfold a person, feed them a bite of red ant larb, and they will usually say it's delicious.
But unfortunately, it's purely the idea of eating ant eggs that's to blame for most people's revulsion.
Why some people love it: Red ants eat mango leaves so their bodies taste like a squirt of lime. Their eggs, on the other hand, are fatty, like precious morsels of rich butter.
6. Yam Kai Yeow Maa
This mixed Thai salad features duck eggs that have turned black and gelatinous due to the preserving process. Sounds gross, right? Well, to all but a few, it really is.The eggs come with a unique, chalky aftertaste, a reminder that you ate something that should have been thrown out long ago.
Why some people love it: Bored of the usual hard boiled eggs, fans of yam kai yeow maa like the textures and pronounced taste.
7. Kai Khao
Though more famous in the Philippines, Thailand does have a similar version of the notorious duck egg fertilized with an embryo. What appears to be a normal hard boiled egg actually takes you on a crunchy journey through odd textures that sometimes lead to regurgitation and the act of having to pluck feathers out of your teeth.
Why do some people love it: It tastes just like a hard boiled egg but is a lot more entertaining to eat given the diverse flavors and textures.
8. Gaeng Sataw
There's always going to be a psychological barrier against a dish where the dominating ingredient is the “stink bean.” If that's not enough to repulse the masses, the beans emit a gaseous sensation that could easily be mistaken for a human fart.
Why some people love it: Believe it or not, stink beans actually smell worse when they are far away than when they are sitting on the table before you. Though the beans don't have that much flavor, they are packed with a healthy dose of nutrients.
9. Baak Bpet
There's more to this dish than just a quick kiss on the lips with Donald Duck. Dining on plate of duck mouths is a full-on extreme sport that involves masticating dainty beaks until the structures are puréed enough to swallow without choking.
Why some people love it: The beaks, which include an extremely tasty bit of fatty duck skin, are marinated in a sweet soy base that bursts with salty flavor.
10. Malang Tod
Thailand's fried bug carts are legendary, though foreigners and Thais alike tend to be turned off by bite sized snackables that could have come from the gutter.
Including grasshoppers, crickets, water beetles, silk worms and whatever else the vendor found under his bed last night, these little critters are deep fried and served with a few shots of pepper and a spray of soy sauce.
Why some people love it: Come on, anything deep fried and heavily salted tastes fantastic. The water beetles actually taste a bit like chicken -- but with a tinge of sourness.
11. Teen Gai
You could say chicken feet are flat out ugly. They're scaly and covered in weird knuckles. But poultry limbs are the highlight in quite a few Thai dishes, best enjoyed by sucking on them rigorously until the pulpy fat rolls off the bones.
Why some people love them: Doing a little work to get to your food is like getting a reward. This reward is fatty, chewy and flavored with whatever the dish is cooked in.
It's the smell followed by the texture that makes most foreigners turn their heads in disgust while walking past a durian cart.
Many dedicated haters of durian will even turn aggressive if playfully approached by a pungent golden nugget of the king of fruits.
Why some people love it: There's no other fruit on this earth that comes as a natural handheld chunk of sweet cream sealed in a spiky shell. It's delicate enough to be babied like a child yet satisfies like a steak.
13. Mok huak
If a plate full of developing frog tadpoles doesn't already make you want to puke, add a generous dose of fermented fish sauce (pla raa) to the equation and you might just have the most repulsive dish available in the world of Thai cuisine.
Why some people love it: Forget the idea that these little tadpoles are cute. Because they're not. They've already started growing legs. Nevertheless, they're packed with nutrients and a unique flavor some find irresistible.