A Vibrant Array of Flavor Calls out to You!
Detect the essence of Thailand in the array of dishes that speak to the country’s vibrant cultural identity. From marketplaces flush with luscious tropical fruits to the friendly smiles of those serving you a delicious meal, the cuisine of this country will leave you craving many happy returns. To prime your appetite for an enticing adventure, we suggest a variety of ways to experience the flavors of Thailand.
Thailand’s most reverently upheld traditions are the offshoot of the locals’ appreciation of food. Following rice harvest, the national festival of Loy Krathong held annually in November celebrates the water spirits who impart a fruitful growing season, beautifully marked by floating candles that set waterways aglow for miles. During Songkran, the Thai New Year in April, join the locals who visit wats (temples) to offer alms and meals to monks, or take part in a playful water fight as they splash one another in an act of cleansing and renewal. You’ll also discover festivals solely celebrating Thai cuisine. In July, attend the sixth-annual Thai Food Festival where you’ll be treated to tried-and-true recipes by some of the nation’s leading restaurants. Sample the cool yet fiery Som Tum, a slaw of green papaya mixed with fish sauce, lime juice, peanuts and plenty of garlic and hot chilies, favored in the fields of northeast Thailand.
Tom Kha Kai warms you with tropical flavors, painting a picture of limestone-karst beaches and palm trees clustered with tropical coconuts, whose milk makes the base for this dish. Steaming pots of aromatic rice draw you to the festival’s cooking demonstrations, which have featured highly respected chefs like Boonsamith Pukkanasut, better known as “Chef Book,” a famous Thai restaurateur and host of the PBS show, Foodwork.
Experience firsthand how chefs across the country, such as Christian Johann Kostner, “Chef Oak,” showcase their skilled culinary acumen year-round. His eatery, Johann Bistro, in Bangkok fuses local flavor with international cuisine, serving up the likes of seafood risotto with squid ink and fresh lime. This cosmopolitan mecca is also home to Sra Bua, the Michelin-starred restaurant at Siam Kempinski Hotel where Henrik Yde-Andersen and Lertchai Treetawatchaiwong team up their strengths in gastronomy and molecular cuisine. Another favorite restaurant in the capital city is Nahm, ranked in the world’s top 50 eateries by Restaurant Magazine and the first Thai restaurant to receive a Michelin star. Chef David Thompson delivers an inspirational menu mined from century-old Thai family cookbooks, offering a range of enticing relishes, tangy soups and complexly-flavored dishes.
Time-honored Thai recipes are an integral aspect of local cuisine, with staple dishes like heaping plates of peanut-scented noodles, ubiquitous among street vendors and Thai palaces alike. Yet Royal Thai cuisine is distinctively unique, and aside from a few delicacies like Khao Chae (rice soaked in flower water), can be distinguished only by its detailed attention to preparation and presentation. Let a personal guide help you spot the hallmarks of fare created for the country’s kings and queens using market-fresh ingredients — pineapples fully cored and peeled, their spiny skin carved into an intricate garnish; and spices freshly ground and added in moderation to balance flavors. Eat like nobility and savor these same special touches at Baan Rim Pa, Phuket’s most authentic Royal Thai restaurant, down to the whole mackerel carefully deboned after frying and presented to you intact. Further acquaint yourself with a royal procession of flavors in Phuket with a private cooking class at Blue Elephant. Browse the morning markets for a bouquet of herbs and vegetables before returning to the kitchen to prepare an indulgent four-course lunch. Your instructor can demonstrate how to fold the delicate pastry pouch for Thoong Thong Keaw Waan, a Royal Thai dish of golden-fried dough stuffed with green curry, before you take control of the wok to sizzle Phad Kra-Prao Nua, stir-fried beef with basil leaves.
While Thai cuisine might be most beloved for its flavors, individual ingredients — from the juicy antioxidant-rich mango, commonly served with sticky rice as a sweet treat, to the vitamin-packed Thai chilies that add heat to many dishes — are also a source of healthful benefits. To gain insight about a drink said to lower blood pressure, boost immunity, and regulate cholesterol, take a guided tour at the Jiaogulan Tea Group in Chiang Mai. Learn everything from the unique conditions required for growing Jiaogulan tea, a once-overlooked vine tucked along the banks of the Mekong River, as well as how to brew the perfect cup from its leaves; collecting a few sachets to take home with you.
From Thailand’s tonics that range from a healthful lotus pollen brew to the delicious milk-sweetened iced tea, prepare for a journey of tastes that will travel your palate from sour to salty and every flavor profile in between. Let us ensure your time between meals is just as satisfying — whether making sure you are first in line to receive a complimentary suite upgrade at a five-star hotel or introducing you to a hill tribe farmer who shares samples of his rice crop, your sweet and savory experience of this colorful country awaits. Contact RLX Travel Group at www.rlxtravelgroup.com if you would like assistance in booking a vacation to Thailand.