If you are a Thai person living outside of Thailand…there is the one question that eventually everyone you know will eventually ask you. Its a difficult question to answer and I have contemplated the answer many times. For the ‘askers’ let me clue you in on what should be an obvious fact. There are very few instances that Thai people will go out to eat at a Thai restaurant.
- They are in Thailand
- The place makes them think they are in Thailand
- They are forced to go by their ‘farang’ friends (and are just being polite).
- They are forced to go by their freinds (relatives) that own the place (and are just being polite).
First of all, if you say you like Thai food, then you simply HAVE to go to Thailand. Don’t satisfy your palate with the same rubber stamped menus that you find in 90% of all Thai restaurants. There’s nothing like eating Thai food in Thailand. Also, incase you weren’t aware….I would say that most Thai food outside of Thailand is being cooked by a bunch of amateurs. Why would I pay 8$ for something I can easily make at home? (and better) I am sure a lot of my friends feel the same way.
The second reason is the best reason for you to go to a Thai restaurant. This is where they serve up the authentic fare with dishes that brings me back to Thailand. How can you tell? Look around. Is the place filled or frequented by Thais? Is there a Thai menu or parts of the menu in Thai? (That is usually a very good sign) I tend to be a little wary if my waiter/waitress cannot speak Thai. In every city there is atleast ONE resaurant that qualifies. In NY it’s Sri Prapai: 64-13 39th Ave., Queens, NY 11377 between 64th and 65th Sts. So many good things to eat here (Catfish salad, mussel pancake, Kha Mhu Pad Krapow, Grilled pork neck) but beware it tends to be very spicy!! If a Thai person is feeling homesick, they head to Woodside.
The third reason is why I often tolerate eating bad Thai food. When one of my friends say ‘Let’s eat Thai food” I TRY not to roll my eyes. Usually I try to identify SOME dishes that are pretty good in each restaurant. In my neighbourhood, there is… “Thai Cafe” – They are good for the noodles and stir fry dishes. They treat their customers well, occasionally they will have some good special dishes. That would be my first choice for Thai food in Greenpoint. I NEVER order curries at an untried place. I find that most curries are made from packets (the same way I make them at home) They are made quickly instead of being simmered for hours. And they just don’t taste right… I usually tend to stick with non-noodle stir fried dishes that are really hard to screw up. If duck is an option, that is what I will order since its kinda hard to cook duck your self. Tai Too on Bedford in Williamsburg has pretty good duck basil (but they give you chopsticks and a spoon… what is THAT? That really insults me…that’s like a Thai person who will not speak to you in Thai)
The fourth reason is, over all, not a bad reason to eat at a Thai restaurant. Usually it means some sort of freebies…and it means the chef takes a little bit of extra attention to make your plates memorable. So here is my plug for my friend’s restaurant… Tuk Tuk in LIC. It really isn’t bad at all. She puts in alot of hard work and thought into her restaurants and she is a great hostess! Go and visit a Tuk Tuk in your area…
I usually have a rant about the Thai restaurants I will never set foot in. But there are too many and I will save my ranting for another post.