World / Asia-Pacific

Taste of Thai

By Xiao Lixin in Beijing ( Updated: 2014-12-19 19:48

There is no disputing that elements of Thai culture have seen their appeal grow among Chinese people.

Perhaps none more so than cuisine as seen by the number of Thai restuarants serving up spicy, enticing delights to whet and staisfy the appetites of customers.

Type in keywords "Thai food" in, a popular website where consumers can post comments about food and service, and as many as 90 restaurants will appear from Beijing alone.

Lotus Thai restaurant, is among the most frequented. After it first opened its doors for business in 1999 another five have been established in the capital.

The restaurant, which offers authentic dishes and specializes in curry, cooperates closely with the Thai embassy in Beijing and Thailand’s Agriculture Ministry and is a popular attraction at Thai food festivals organised by the embassy.

The basic ingredients for Thai food such as garlic, chili, lime juice, lemongrass and fresh coriander leaf, fermented fish sauce or shrimp paste have seen its appeal span the globe.

But menus differ from region to region. Food from the central region tends to be salty, hot, sweet and sour with tom yum soup being the most famous.

Curries are popular in a number of Asian countries not least India, Thailand, Malaysia and Sri Lanka, but the Thai version, in red or green, along with tom yum, crab, fried fish cake and mango with sticky rice, are among the particular favorites of Chinese customers, according to Lotus Thai.

Apart from restaurants serving Thai cuisine, food festivals organised by the embassy are a popular draw.

In the food and cultural festival "Amazing Thailand: Always Amazes You"on Dec 4, 400 lucky followers of the embassy’s official Sina Weibo account were invited to the event to sample the delights on offer accompanied by music, dance and a display of traditional folk arts.

According to a report from the Thailand food institute, the Thai catering service industry in China grew at an annual rate of 9.2 percent from 2005 to 2010.

Promotion campaigns to famaliarise people with the cusine have also been launched.

The institute also found that diners at Thai restaurants in China tend to be in the upper-income bracket and the average bill per person is 150 yuan ($24).

"I work in a company near the restaurant and have had dinner here at least 20 times," said a female customer surnamed at one franchise restaurant of Lotus Thai.

"I love the curry here, especially the curry prawn and order it every time. The flavor is amazing and I would like to travel to Thailand sometime to check it out."

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