Warming up to Thailand
By Jacqueline Dy UyTAIPEI, Taiwan -- More than just its pristine beaches and bargain shopping, neighboring Thailand is most famous for its cuisine. A fusion of different spices, curries and a blend of other Southeast Asian flavors to several dishes have won the heart of many tourists and have kept them coming back.
January 5, 2013, 12:06 am TWN
Although nothing beats authentic Thai food, here are some of our local suggestions if that recent trip to the City of Smiles has been haunting you in your sleep, making you want to go back for more tom yum goong and pad thai.
First stop is Sarathai (泰國小館) along Dingzhou Road Sec. 3, near Gongguan MRT Station. In business for over 40 years, Sarathai is owned by an overseas Chinese Thai who then wanted to start a restaurant and introduce Thai culture to Taiwanese. Walking into this restaurant may remind you of those unfamiliar streets and restaurants in Bangkok, but you're sure to be greeted with a smile.
Not easy to miss because of the many Thai goodies for sale outside the store, the restaurant offers Thai dishes that are easy on the pocket. A hefty meal with rice starts at NT$150. Our usual orders are spicy stir fried pork with basil (辣炒打拋豬肉) and spicy chicken in coconut milk (辣炒椰汁雞肉飯). The heat and aroma from the spices are perfect to warm you up in the dead of winter. Their shrimp pancake (月亮蝦餅 NT$180) is also a must-try. These shrimp patties are fried to a perfect crisp and tasty even without their sweet chili sauce.
Thai Town Cuisine (瓦城泰國料理) has a more upscale vibe and has locations across the country. Ask for their pad thai (泰式炒河粉 NT$250), stir fried noodles mixed with beansprouts, green onion, tofu, shrimp, peanuts, and a hint of fish sauce. Squeeze in some lime and top it with more ground peanuts or chili flakes and you're good to go. We haven't found locally available Thai milk tea (泰國冰奶茶sNT$99) as good as Thai Town's. If you're on a diet, you might want to skip this highly calorific drink, or visit on your cheat day, so you can have an order or two of the refreshing Thai tea, mellowed down with sweetened condensed milk.
Can't get enough of Thai food? How about an all-you-can-eat Thai buffet? Feast on a wide array of Thai specialties at Spice Market (泰市場), located at Eslite's Xinyi branch. Lunch and dinner buffets start at NT$700 and up per person. Enjoy a do-it-yourself Som Tam — Thailand's most famous salad — at the salad bar. Pound garlic and chilies using the their wooden mortar and pestle, throw in a handful of grated green papaya and toss in fish sauce, tamarind juice, lime and dried shrimp, and voila, Thailand's Som Tam in Taipei!