Before returning to the United States, I spent nearly three years in Thailand. In Thailand, I eat a lot of Thai food. And I just adore it. When I returned to the United States for a brief visit, I realized that Thai cuisine has become fairly popular in the United States. At the next strip mall, nearly every neighborhood has its own “Thai Basil” or “Siam” restaurant.
Many Thai restaurants in the United States are even owned and operated by genuine Thais. However, Thai food in Thailand differs from Thai food in the United States. Not only are there variances in food and what is accessible, but Thai restaurants (despite their best efforts) must adapt and then follow American laws.
Size of the Portion
The sizes of food portions in the United States and Thailand are vastly different… After spending so much time in Bangkok, I had entirely forgotten about it. America is a huge fan of the word “huge.”
In Thailand, I don’t eat less; rather, the quantities are smaller, so I order numerous plates of rice per meal. I got a large plate of pad gra pao (lad khao – on top of rice) in Chinatown in Hawaii, and it was double or even triple the size of a typical Bangkok street food meal.
This one comes as no surprise. The cost of living in America is naturally higher than in Thailand. While a simple plate of rice with a single dish and potentially a fried egg costs 30 – 40 THB ($1 – $1.30) in Thailand, the same dinner would likely cost $7 – $10 in America. However, as previously said, the portion size is two to three times larger. Maybe I should have compared the weight to the price.
Thai Food: Spring Rolls
Thai restaurant in the United States feature an abundance of spring roll — just as everyone in the United States must have an egg roll with Chinese food, Thai food is always serve with a deep fried spring roll. I believe it is because Americans enjoy deep-fried food (and Thai restaurant owner figure this out).
Although Thailand has deep-fried spring rolls, I could easily spend months in Thailand dining entirely at local street stall restaurants and never touch one. In reality, I only know of one food vendor in Bangkok that regularly sells por pia tod.
A large amount of meat
Because America has long been known as a meat-paradise eater’s it’s no surprise that American Thai cuisine is heavy on the meat. A typical Thai cuisine will include some meat, but just a little amount compared to the amount of chicken or pig served in a single Thai dish in the United States. In America, the chicken is simply larger, and the pork is simply bulkier.
Herbs aren’t use as much as they should be
The basil in pad gra pao (stir fried holy basil) should be plenty. One thing I’ve noticed about Thai food in America is that it’s heavy on the meat and light on the herbs. I’m not sure if this is due to the high cost of herbs in America or because having a lot of herbs implies having a lot of flavor, which may be off-putting to some customers. Nonetheless, the best source of the delectable Thai ingredient repertoire is Thailand itself.
The price of a meal in America is higher than that in Thailand, but so are portion sizes which can make up for it to some degree if you’re not too hungry. Many American restaurants offer spring rolls with their meals as well because Americans tend to enjoy deep fried foods more than Thais do (despite all the frying they do). In general, there’s less meat served on plates in Thailand, while chicken and pork dishes are usually larger or bulkier when found in an American restaurant- especially when compared to street vendors who sell por pia tord regularly.
Also read about: What distinguishes Thai cuisine from other cuisines?