Dine at any Phuket Thai restaurant and, no matter how much Thai food you’ve eaten in the past in any other country, your taste buds will be blown away by the experience. The flavours and textures are infinitely more vibrant and complex when you dine on Thai food actually made in Thailand. So, does the location make that much of a difference? Here are a few reasons why Thai food tastes better in Thailand.
How many times have you been cooking some exotic dish from a far-flung country at home, only to have your progress halted by unfamiliar names in the recipe. Often, we are forced to adapt, routing around in cupboards for ingredients that are near enough. Who has holy basil in their kitchen? Regular basil is basically the same, right? Well, no – not really. Each of the rare, hard-to-find ingredients you substitute in your made-at-home meal has a distinctive flavour and a specific role in making a fantastic Thai dish. Naturally, if you struggle to find those rare ingredients, The Thai restaurants around you will, too. In Thailand, by contrast, that kind of basic ingredient is widely and easily available.
On the rare occasion that you find a good Thai restaurant near you which imports the real ingredients from Thailand, the flavour will certainly be much closer to what you’ll find at a Phuket Thai restaurant, but still not exactly right. The difference is simple – ingredients cooked in Thailand haven’t spent several weeks in a shipping container. In some cases, they were picked by farmers that morning. They haven’t been blanched, frozen or smothered in preservatives. That kind of freshness will always make a big difference to the flavour, making it more robust and exciting.
The local recipe
Even if you find a Thai restaurant in your native country that is owned and operated by a Thai family, the flavours of the food they serve will not be exactly the same as those from a Phuket Thai restaurant. The fact is that the owners will have to adapt their recipes to suit the customers around them. Thais generally favour quite sour, bitter flavours, such as the famous papaya salad and tom yum soup. They also like their food spicy, with heaps of chillies – way more than most westerners can handle. Westernised Thai cuisine is often much sweeter and blander than what you will find in Thailand, and it is rare to find a restaurant that won’t compromise its recipes in favour of mass-market appeal.