New York has a fascinating number of Thai restaurants and if you were to conduct a quick search for “Thai food near me”, you would most certainly get a wide range of alternatives for exclusive Thai food places and also multi-cuisine restaurants that serve Thai food. The reason for this influx in Thai food places, that everyone loves and frequents is the Thailand government’s strategy called gastro diplomacy to boost tourism in its country and create an avenue for exporting Thai specialties.
The emergence of the best Thai restaurant
The Thai government established the first pool of Thai restaurants, under the state-owned Global Thai Restaurant Company, Ltd. Though these restaurants did not grow to the proportions envisioned by the Thai government, they achieved the greater objective of promoting Thai cuisine and culture. Thai exports of fish sauce, coconut milk, peanut sauce, specialty meats, fish, grains, and spices increased as there was a demand for authentic Thai food!
The Thai Commerce Ambassador to the USA even had the special authority to award the “Thai Select” distinction to a Thai food place serving authentic cuisine. The best Thai restaurant recognized by the Thai diplomats in the US are advised on vendors from whom they can source authentic ingredients, they train the restaurant owners on techniques to promote their restaurant and what items can be added to the menu to make it more robust.
Why do we all love Thai?
Thai food captures all five basic tastes in every dish – sour, sweet, bitter, spicy, and salty. Of course, the Thai government’s efforts to popularize their culture through culinary diplomacy have ensured that there is always a place serving “Thai food near me”when searching for the comfort of the Tom Kha soup or the luxurious flavors of GoongPhadNamprik Pow. In the bid to popularize their cuisine in the country, Thailand studied the American taste palette and altered its recipes to suit the average American taste buds. Thus, you have variations in how spicy the food will be, some local produce is added to adapt it and make it familiar for the people.
How different is Thai food in America from the “Thai” Thai food?
The first difference comes in the level of spiciness of the food. So, even though there is generous use of pepper, chilies, ginger, and other spices in places serving “Thai food near me” in the US, the flavor is much milder than what is served in Thailand. Locally available products and ingredients such as broccoli or bell pepper are used in Thai food in the US, which is not produced in Thailand. The other difference is that there is more use of meat in American Thai cuisines than in locally prepared Thai food in Thailand. There will be a wedge of cauliflower or some cucumber or other salad in Thailand and comparativelyless use of meat.
Thai food that the best Thai restaurant will serve
Thai food has influences from its neighboring countries too, and while they are primarily a rice-eating community, there is an alternative to have noodles as an accompaniment thanks to the Chinese culinary influence. A popular accompaniment for Thai dishes is generally jasmine rice, sticky rice, or other flavored rice. These are typically had with the famous Thai curries. Aside from this, there are their soothing soups and hot pots that one cannot miss.
Some famous dishes that everyone loves to eat include the –
- Tom Yum Goongis a spicy shrimp soup made with fragrant lemongrass, shallots, fish sauce, kaffir lime leaves, chili paste, and juicy prawns.
- Tom Kha is a creamy alternative to the Tom Yum with the additional coconut milk ingredient and chicken added in place of shrimps.
- Massaman Currywith its Indian and Malay influence is a South Thailand specialty and has a mild flavor.
- Gaeng Penang Gai is a red curry with chicken made with typically Thai ingredients such as shrimp sauce, peanut paste, and coconut milk to give it a rich flavor and thick texture.
The best Thai restaurants will have these regular fairs and more. However, what sets them apart is the use of authentic spices and ingredients from the locale where they originate.