Jump to content

"Real" Thai Food


Recommended Posts

Hello to all thai food lovers,

i have been working in hospitality industry over 6 years now here in Thailand, running many different hotel restaurant operations. one thing that really bothers me is that constant comment from foreigners (and sometimes Thais) that the hotel thai food is not really thai... now what is it, that makes "real" thai food in their eyes? Is it the excessive use of glutomat in all local restaurants that makes it "real"? i doubt, this is more likely is a sign of degradation of thai food for me... is it that many do not see the difference between thai fast food on the street and (my understanding) of real thai food anymore and start to compare "fois gras & burges"...

Or is it the incopetence of the mostly farang executive chef that tries to put his style into the thai recipes (i doubt this, since i have worked with many farang chefs here in Thailand who really got into Thai cuisine and actaully know what it's all about) ? is it that we serve the beef tender and not chewy and the chicken without soft bones?

Or is it at the end really the case that all these highly experiences and well trained and paid thai chefs just forget how to properly cook thai food the moment they walk into a 5 star hotel??

Let me know what you think makes the difference.

culinary greetings.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Here are, from my experiences, the characteristics of 'tourist thai' or 'farangified' thai food. Not saying here that all hotels cook this type of food. I would say thai restaurants in heavily touristed areas are the worst culprits.

- Limited or no use of fish sauce in preparation, or substituting soy sauce instead :bah:

- Limited use of chilli. So many thai dishes (eg. 'yam' salads) need the spiciness, otherwise they lose all of their character.

- Overuse of sugar

- Overuse of peanut sauce and nuts. These aren't that common in thai cuisine, but for some reason are associated with Thai food among westerners. There are Thai restaurants in the west where over half of the menu has dishes with peanut sauce :blink:

You don't need MSG for great thai food, I think MSG is just used out of laziness more than anything else.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Simple. Fresh ingredients, especially the herbs. Salt. Sweet. Sour. Hot.

Dumb-ed down Thai food is the pits, but the restaurants are there to satisfy the customers' palette and make money, not necessarily to serve authentic Thai food. Unless I know the restaurant, I'd rather eat street food.

Fortunately where I'm at right now there are excellent Asian markets and I can get all the ingredients I need to make my own Thai food.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Cabbages and condoms is crap Thai food. In fact, most of the girls in my office think that you can't find very good Thai food within 10km of Sukhumvit. Though Gedhawa on soi 35 is excellent.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Just what the guys above say.. It's the usual dozen or so 'famous' dishes adapted or toned down so that foreigners don't find them too strange.

Tom yum goong with too much sugar and no chilli, Tom kha gai with condensed milk added, Khrapow muu/gai without chilli and hardly any garlic.. cooked without enough heat so the meat looks insipid and pale. Same for Thai omelettes and eggs. Instead of being brown and crispy they are cooked like western eggs and left soft and yellow.

This sort of food is so predominant now in Pattaya/Phuket/Samui etc I seldom eat in a place if I see English languag menus. Worse than the tasteless food is the price which is often three times that of the authentic dish in a Thai place.. I have to suffer the same thing at work where the campboss makes tasteless curry to suit the guys that don't like curry.. <deleted> ? If they don't like curry they can eat one of the other choices.. Don't ruin my meal cos they don't like chilli/spices.

If you want 'real' Thai food go to the market and eat what the Thais are ordering or get out from Pattaya and head out to the countryside... That's 'real' Thai food.. But don't be suprised if you don't like it.. Most of what the locals are eating has little resemblence to what the rest of the World thinks of as Thai food anyhow.

Link to post
Share on other sites

cooked without enough heat so the meat looks insipid and pale.

Man, you got that one right on. I've got a really nice wok but it ain't worth crap on the electric burner. It just doesn't make enough heat on the sides and makes too much on the bottom. Food never cooks properly. Stir fry like grapow should be in and out, on the flame long enough to get the flavors to meld and the meat to cook, but not so long that the loses the crunch.

Now that I can get fresh holy basil, kaffir lime leaves, lemon grass and other basic ingredients, many dishes that I would normally want from a Thai restaurant, I can make pretty decently at home. Same for salads like som tum and yum mamuang. I think I might try to make some tord mun or whole crispy fish tomorrow.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Can't imagine why I'd want to eat Thai food prepared by a foreign 'executive chef' in a 5 star hotel where the food is toned down for one week foreign tourists who want something safe and are afraid to go outside their hotel to local places. Not to mention the food is aimed at people who are ignorant of prices in this country. If I'm eating at a 5 star hotel it's for the international buffet

Link to post
Share on other sites

Some great answers in this thread by some knowledgable consumers of Thai cuisine.

Sugar. Lose it or serve it on the side so people may add to taste.

The way my wife prepares Thai food I can taste evry ingredient individually AND hoe that ingredient combines with all the others. It takes a lot of time. Mortar and pestle stuff, but it is well worth the effort. Like my wife like s to say Thai food is like a beautiful piece of music and you should be able to taste every note.

As for other types of "real" Thai food such as "stink squid" and pla ra (too much). :bah:

Edited by lannarebirth
Link to post
Share on other sites

I rarely eat out these days. The Thai menu's all the same. I don't ever eat at farang owned restaurants with 'Thai options', usually bland and overpriced. Although I remember some years ago a farang chef complaining that the usual Thai fare dished up at each and every restaurant largely consisted of the same tired old pla neung manao, pla tot gradtiem, boo prik Thai, khao pat goong etc. His opinion was that the Thai restaurants didn't believe farang capable of eating 'real' Thai food.

I believe he was right. On the odd occasion I do eat out, it's at the local Isaan caffs.They too seem to have gone the way of the 'what works' and rarely deviate from the norm.

Not so long ago, there was an old lady seated at one of my local talad nats selling bags of something interesting. Turned out to be one of the best authentic Thai dishes I'd ever tasted. Banana blossom with shrimp paste, dried shrimp, nam blpaa, coconut milk. Can't remember the rest, but never saw her again. So back to the pad pet, nam prik et al ...

Link to post
Share on other sites

I would think the menu of any restaurant has more to do with the clientele and what THEY are prepared to pay, instead of any particular choices made by the chefs.

I doubt whether the average Thai could afford to dine five star very often, hence they might consider anything a 5 star restaurant serves up as "not really Thai food".

In Australia it seems most restaurants can pass on the cost of expensive imported ingredients to a pretty dumbed down clientele, who probably don't even realise what real thai food is anyway, so long as everything is loaded with large portions of meat, and an horrendous overuse of coconut milk.

The use of MSG in Oz restaurants is banned in some places BTW, so i guess they do have to work a little harder in that regard.

Still,I dont know how many times ive heard Aussie punters say the food in Thailand is nothing like the Thai food we get at home in Australia. I also put that down to some of the silly methods used by the so-called "experts".

I guess if Aussie restaurants cut down the portions of meat and incorporated the use of condensed milk (and stopped taking the p!ss) prices may be more affordable..but while they are getting anything up to AU$30 for a simple main dish, im sure they are happy to be serving up thai food that is "not real"....it would be no different in LOS

Link to post
Share on other sites

One point I would make is, that "Royal Thai Cuisine", which many may consider to be 5 star, is not nearly as delicious as 3.5 star cuisine on offer elsewhere. The "royal" food here tends to be overly sweet and not even a bit spicy.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Can't imagine why I'd want to eat Thai food prepared by a foreign 'executive chef' in a 5 star hotel where the food is toned down for one week foreign tourists who want something safe and are afraid to go outside their hotel to local places. Not to mention the food is aimed at people who are ignorant of prices in this country. If I'm eating at a 5 star hotel it's for the international buffet

This would be the equivalent to "Thai" restaurants in the West. Very modified and westernized.

Link to post
Share on other sites

His opinion was that the Thai restaurants didn't believe farang capable of eating 'real' Thai food.

This is probably closer to the truth than not. This capability isn't limited to the casual visitor, but the Farang residents as well.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...