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Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list – “Biased, commercialised and a big publicity stunt.”

Tanutam Thawan

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Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list – “Biased, commercialised and a big publicity stunt.” | The Thaiger

By Clinton Palanca

The winners of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants has been announced, the list released.

There will be the usual accusations that the list is biased, commercialised, a big publicity stunt and, most important, that it is of very little value to the vast majority of the population.

Food tourism has become a big deal. I remember when I started writing about travel, back in the days I was traveling more often than not, and writing that this mad-rush visit to the cathedrals, temples or ruins, was overrated, and that one could learn much more about a city by sitting down in a restaurant, eating the local cuisine and watching the locals go about their business.

These days I find myself in the awkward position of having to reverse my stance and insist that people make an effort to go to museums, the Colosseum, the palace—even if doing so means you’ll miss the lunch booking in the two-Michelin-star restaurant you made four months in advance.

Culinary tourists who fly in and go from one celebrity restaurant to the other make me nervous. They insist that the cuisine must be local, the ingredient locally sourced, the menu reflective of the culture of the country or city.

It sounds, really, as though they are looking for the knowledge of a civilisation or of a people to be served up to them on a plate – or maybe 10 plates, as part of a degustation menu. This is not the role food should play, this is not a burden that restaurants should assume.

Restaurants are great bastions of civilisation, but they should not take the place of the civilization itself.

The list, while controversial, ephemeral or flawed like any human endeavour, is a continuing statement that food matters, that it’s something more than what we eat to feed ourselves.

Well-heeled “completists” will manage about half of the list. Most of us would be lucky to get to go to more than a handful of the restaurants on the Asia’s Top 50 list, more so the World’s 50 Best list.

For every naysayer who says that all this hype is out of proportion and it’s only food, it isn’t. Because it’s about people. It’s about the farmer who grows specialty mushrooms, about people like myself who sit by a keyboard and type out opinions about what we just ate.

Here’s the full list HERE.

Asia's 50 Best Restaurants list -

But most of all, it’s about the cooks who peel, scrape, boil and reduce, broil, bake and torch and ferment and plate and serve and clear, and who think, night after night, how to make people eat better.

All of us, including the much-feared judges of the list, are there to celebrate the act of creation that they and so many others do—often to so little reward.



Find restaurant and food listings around Phuket at Thaiger Bites.

Local Thai journalist speaking fluent Thai and English. Tanutam studied in Khon Kaen before attending Bangkok’s Chulalongkhorn University.

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Food Scene

Top 10 Thai foods you must try

Tanutam Thawan

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Top 10 Thai foods you must try | The Thaiger

Thailand is known around the world not only for it’s breath taking scenery, beautiful hosts but also for their food. Fresh and vibrant, the local food in Thailand is cheap and it is amazing. On the street or in a fancy restaurant, it’s all good.

Be brave. Buy from the side of the road like the locals do, it will be the best meal you’ve had today. There is so much to sample and taste if you are willing to put yourself out of your comfort zone. Just remember one term “Mai Phet”, no chill please!

Here is, in no particular order, our Top Ten foods to try in Thailand….

1. Khao Soi Gai (Spicy Noodle Chicken Soup)

Khao Soi Gai originates from the cooler climate of the North, in the cultural city of Chiang Mai, therefore a hot and spicy soup is just the ticket. Without a doubt my favourite dish in Thailand, even though this is in no particular order, it sits at number one for good reason. The spicy broth, with the steamed chicken and the crispy noodles on top are delicious. The dish is traditionally served with lime, shallots, pickled mustard and chilli for individual taste and flavour.

Top 10 Thai foods you must try | News by The Thaiger

2. Durian

Buyer or should I say taster beware! Durian is the most popular fruit not only in Thailand but all over South East Asia, and beyond. It can grow up to 30cms long and 15cms wide and comes in a varierty of shapes and sizes, but I am dancing around the point: Durian has the most unpleasant (this is super polite) smell I think I have ever smelt. It is overpowering and has the stench of dirty socks which doesn’t do it much favours and it’s banned on most flights around Asia due to its pungency. The actual flavour of durian is quite pleasant and sweet if you can get past the smell as it approaches your mouth. Give it a go, be brave!

Top 10 Thai foods you must try | News by The Thaiger

3. Phuket Lobster

Ironically Phuket lobster is more expensive than the Canadian lobster that has traveled half way across the world. If you can get past this fact then you must try the Phuket lobster because they’re sweet and fresh, juicy and worth the extra baht. One of our favourite places to try Phuket lobster is Kata Rocks, an ultra luxury resort in the South.

Top 10 Thai foods you must try | News by The Thaiger

4. Chai Yen (Thai Ice Tea)

You can’t travel to the land of smiles without trying Chai Yen, the local ice tea. I have two boys and if they had the chance, and I allowed it, they would drink this sweet tea daily. The secret ingredient that makes Chai Yen worthy of making this list is the fact it is sweetened by condensed milk which makes it thick and syrupy. Not recommended for a low calorie diet.

Top 10 Thai foods you must try | News by The Thaiger

5. Fresh Coconut on the beach

We are so lucky here on the island of Phuket to have access to fresh coconuts. Lots of them. Coconuts not only feature in many local Thai dishes but they also have numerous health benefits according to some health practitioners. Whether you are drinking yours from Makro or on the side of the street you are doing your body a huge favour. Click HERE to see The Thaiger’s Top Ten benefits of drinking coconut water….

Top 10 Thai foods you must try | News by The Thaiger

6. Gaeng Keow Wan Gai (Green Chicken Curry)

Laced with Thai super stars of food – coconut, palm sugar, kaffir lime, fish sauce and green curry paste, the chicken curry served with steamed rice is mouth watering and stomach filling (and sometimes spicy unless you ask for “mai phet”. Super easy to also make at home, but steer away from “non Thai” versions. I can’t say it for sure but I’m pretty sure Jamie Oliver’s green chicken curry recipe isn’t going to be authentic!

Top 10 Thai foods you must try | News by The Thaiger

7. Miang Khum (Thai Snack)

I was first introduced to this snack more than a decade ago, you don’t see it very often in “touristy” areas as it is a very traditional snack dating back to the court of King Rama V. It literally means “one bite wrap” whereby you grab a beetle nut leaf and place in it whatever takes your fancy from the plate, ginger, shallots, peanuts, chili, dried shrimp and lime. The beetle nut leaf itself is quite bitter so adding in all the flavours is a palate filling experience.

Top 10 Thai foods you must try | News by The Thaiger

8. Som Tum (Spicy Green Papaya Salad)

Locals eat this dish every day, it is fresh and crisp and once again full of the flavours of Thailand. With shredded unripe green papaya, snake beans, tomatos, garlic, peanuts and dried shrimp it is quick and easy to make and often eaten on the side of the road. Once again be brave and buy from the local lady on the corner of the street making her living from Som Tum. But, again, it can be spicy so plead for a slightly less spicy version if Thai spices are too hot for you.

Top 10 Thai foods you must try | News by The Thaiger

9. Goong Sarong (Prawns wrapped in deep fried noodles)

Typically I’m not a fan of prawns but when these little puppies are wrapped up in noodles, deep fried then served with sweet chillie sauce, I must indulge. Served traditional as an appetiser along with table top friends chicken satay and spring rolls, be careful not to have too much as you will spoil your dinner. Thanks Mum!

Top 10 Thai foods you must try | News by The Thaiger

10. Tom Kha Gai (Coconut Chicken Soup) 

The go to dish for me when I can’t decide what to order, the soup has all the flavours of Thailand – hot, sour, sweet and with the addition of fresh coconut milk makes the perfect balanced dish. Kaffir lime, lemongrass and galangal also add aroma and Asian flavours to finish off this beautiful soup.

Top 10 Thai foods you must try | News by The Thaiger

 

 

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Business

Thailand’s food delivery business up 14% in 2019

Tim Newton

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Thailand’s food delivery business up 14% in 2019 | The Thaiger

“Diners are increasingly ordering food online platforms, and eating out at restaurants less.”

We’re eating in more and dining out less. But we can still enjoy our favourite restaurant food. Welcome to the latest ‘disrupter’ making inroads to our eating habits.

KResearch (a part of Kasikorn Bank) estimates that the food delivery business in 2019 will amount to 33-35 billion baht, up 14% from last year. Food delivery apps are another example of ‘digital disruption’, and are transforming consumer behaviour as well as the restaurants’ food supply chains.

(Thing Food Panda, LineMan and Grab Food among many other franchises and individual restaurants now offering boutique delivery services.)

It’s estimated that food delivery apps and businesses will account for 8% of Thailand’s total restaurant business in 2019.​

The findings show that 63 percent of the respondents to a survey believe that the advent of food ordering apps has changed their food consumption behaviour. Diners are increasingly ordering food online platforms, and eating out at restaurants less.

Thailand's food delivery business up 14% in 2019 | News by The Thaiger

The burgeoning food delivery and related application business has increased opportunities for players in restaurant supply chains, including small and big restaurants, to generate more income as they can reach out to new groups of customers beyond their regular catchment of regular eaters.

Delivery motorbike riders can also earn extra income by receiving business from online food delivery platforms; the market share of the delivery motorcycle services is estimated at 3.9 billion baht this year.

Restaurant chains are being forced to add channels for receiving food orders from outside customers and offer a wider variety of menu options.

One thing is for sure, you will see more motorbikes zipping around your area delivery all sort of foods to homes around Thailand.

Mmmm, I feel like a pizza!

Thailand's food delivery business up 14% in 2019 | News by The Thaiger

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Food Scene

University of Canberra urgently evacuates students after ‘gas leak’

Tanutam Thawan

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University of Canberra urgently evacuates students after ‘gas leak’ | The Thaiger

…but Asian students wouldn’t have bothered rushing to the doors.

Tertiary students have had to evacuate an exam room in the Australian capital of Canberra following a suspected gas leak and foul stench that was making the students ill.

Staff at the University of Canberra library were forced to evacuate the building. But a search from security staff found that it wasn’t a gas leak at all. It was far more dangerous!

“We’ve been evacuated! Will post an update when students can re-enter the building,” someone wrote in a Facebook post.

550 people had to evacuate the building and, thanks to safety training, the block was evacuated in less than six minutes. Emergency services then ventured in to find the source of the pungent smell.

“Fortunately the suspected gas leak turned out to be a part of a durian – the offending fruit has now been removed.”

The Australian Capital Territory Emergency Services Agency said that a specialised team had carried out “atmospheric monitoring to ensure the area was safe.”

But it appears that getting rid of the fruit doesn’t get rid of the lingering smell.

“The lingering gas-like smell in the building is completely safe,” the post reveals that a durian had been left in a bin, presumably by an Asian student.

The “King of Fruits” has an unmistakable shape, texture and… aroma. The spiky, barbed ball is filled with starchy, custard-like pods. And a smell which is strong enough to, well, clear an Australian exam room.

University of Canberra urgently evacuates students after 'gas leak' | News by The Thaiger

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