The elephant-shaped country of Thailand offers similar diversity. In the south you’ll find plenty of seafood, jasmine rice is their staple rice, and dishes tend to be very spicy. In northeastern Thailand, they favor sticky rice, make a fabulous fish sauce, and are known for somtum, a papaya salad. If you are a Thai food fan (like we are at Relish Portugal), chances are you’re always on the lookout for a dish that tickles your Thai tastebuds, both in your hometown and along your travels.
Porto people, pay attention!! Thailander (www.instagram.com/thailander.porto) serves Thai dishes from the heart and homeland.
Yok, the restaurant’s primary chef, hailing from Songkhla (southern Thailand) with a stint in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Patt, the house manager, from Yasothon (northeastern Thailand) via Guimarães were both charmed by Porto’s international buzz, spectacular scenery, and welcoming, genuine, easy smiles, just like in Thailand. Two and a half years ago, Yok’s Italian husband received a job opportunity in Porto. They leapt at the chance to live there. Patt met her Portuguese husband while they were both postgraduate students in the UK, moved to Portugal 13 years ago, and settled also in Porto.
Becoming friends, Yok and Patt realized their individual dreams of having a Thai restaurant dovetailed. Thailander is the result of their combined vision.
Both Portuguese and Thai enjoy rice as the base of their cuisine. Furthermore, they both eat plain rice (it isn’t common, for example, with Italians). In Thailander, some desserts are influenced by Portuguese desserts. Many are yolk-based sweets where some ingredients used in Portugal were replaced by more available ingredients, such as milk being replaced by coconut milk in the Thai version.
Thai cuisine is famous for using unusual herbs and spices such as lemongrass, galangal, and Kaffir lime leaves. These are, together with lime, chili, coriander, and garlic, the core flavors of Thai dishes. Combined, they are responsible for the rich aromas and unique taste of Thai food.
It’s no surprise that Pad Thai Shrimp is their most requested dish, both by those having their first experience with Thai food and those who have traveled to Thailand and fell in love with this popular Thai street food. Green curry is popular with those that want a robust-flavor-forward tasting dish. Their somtum is both of their favorites. This dish features unripe papaya, and despite its apparent simplicity, is particularly rich in taste—a beautiful balance between spicy, sour, sweet and salty flavors.
Unlike many Thai restaurants abroad, Yok and Patt don’t try to adapt their Thai food to match local taste. The only compromise they make is with the level of spiciness. The result is a Thai culinary experience as authentic as you’d find in their native country.
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