Dining

The Reason Why America Has So Many Thai Restaurants

There's a Thai restaurant for every 6 Thai Americans in the U.S.
Thai Restaurants in America
Photo: Charles Haynes via Flickr

Your order of pad see ew and red curry might be something you take for granted. But have you ever wondered why, despite the fact there are only 300,000 Thai Americans in the U.S. (that's less than 1 percent of the total population), Thai food restos are everywhere?

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According to Munchies, the answer is simple: The Thai government paid for them. In 2001, officials began using a foreign policy known as gastrodiplomacy as a way to increase tourism and cultural and diplomatic awareness worldwide. The result is the establishment of Global Thai Restaurant Company, Ltd., which had the goal of opening at least 3,000 restaurants around the globe. Since then, the country has been setting aside funds for Thai restaurateurs interested in opening restaurants overseas, even publishing a book called A Manual for Thai Chefs Going Abroad.

You can't deny the policy has worked: Since then, the number of Thai restaurants in the U.S. has increased from roughly 2,000 to more than 5,000, with Bangkok scoring last year's most popular international tourist destination.

And now that the U.S. has acquired a taste for larb and tom yum soup, the Thai government has been making a push into new regions, such as the Middle East. Munchies also adds that Thailand isn't the only country adopting this culinary-minded approach: Korea, Taiwan, Peru and Malaysia are also following suit.

Read the full story on Munchies.

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