A restaurant in Thailand is a food market.
And it’s booming.
Thailand’s food sector has expanded from the mid-1980s to the mid-’90s and is now worth about $1.8 trillion, according to a study by Oxford Economics.
And while it’s only just beginning to recover from a long recession, the country has already doubled the number of restaurant openings in the last five years.
The country’s government has been slow to regulate food and alcohol, but it is now encouraging a trend that many see as an extension of a decades-old cultural shift toward eating more locally-sourced food and wine.
Thai food is often prepared in small, open-air spaces and served on flat plates.
The result: a variety of dishes and tastes that are often shared by many different ethnicities.
The new trend is growing in popularity, especially among younger consumers.
“There are more Thai food restaurants than there were in the mid to late 1980s,” says Anthony Bourdain, who recently published his book The Food Network: The Next Generation of Television and Film Stars, and a critic of Thai food.
Bourdain, a British chef who travels the world and has visited Thailand several times, says his Thai restaurant experiences have been largely positive.
I always feel more connected to people who are different to me.
The people there are very warm and welcoming, and they’re very attentive to me, he says.
There’s a lot of pride, but also a lot more social distance, because people aren’t going to eat there and I won’t.
The food is always going to be in Thai.
Bourdos, a native of the UK, has spent most of his adult life in Bangkok.
He has been a member of the royal family for 22 years, but he’s rarely visited the city.
In 2010, he opened his first Thai restaurant in a converted building in Bangkok’s tourist district.
He later opened more than 100 other restaurants throughout Thailand, including in Bangkok, Phuket, Pattaya, and in Phukpe, the largest island in the archipelago.
He says he doesn’t plan to stop anytime soon.
“The thing that I love about Thailand is the food,” he says, “so if I see that trend continuing, I’m sure I’m going to continue to grow my restaurant.”
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