Thai food represents the tastes and traditions of Thailand. Known for being very aromatic and spicy, the flavors of Thai food are complex. The food is all about the harmony of four flavors: sweet, salty, bitter and spicy. Popular ingredients include shrimp paste (kapi), fermented fish sauce (nam pia), fresh coriander leaf, lemon grass, lime juice, chilies, and garlic. Coconut milk, ginger and ground peanuts are also familiar ingredients found in Thai food. Often served with rice, Thai food is also heavy in vegetables and can be made to appeal to vegetarians.
Thai food was introduced worldwide in the 1960's, but it's only been in the last several years that it's become quite popular throughout the US. When asked to name an ethnic cuisine, Thai food ranks fourth amongst Americans behind Italian, French and Chinese. Now most larger size cities in the US have Thai restaurants. Grand Rapids is no exception with nearly a dozen different Thai restaurants all around town (see list below).
If you're unfamiliar with Thai food, but wanting to give it a try, it can be a little confusing to know what to order. This list of 10 Most Popular Thai Foods will give you a good place to start. If you're one of those people who hears the word "spicy" and tend to think "Spicy isn't really my thing!", you'll be happy to know that most Thai restaurants let you order to your liking on a spiciness scale of 1 to 10. The list below can serve as a glossary to terms you'll see on most Thai menus.
Basic Thai Food Terms
Pad Thai- The famous noodle dish, made with flat rice noodles, and added seasoning, as well as usually shrimp.
Thai Green Curry- Can be made with chicken, beef or seafood, this is a popular curry, where the sauce is made from a fresh cilantro and coconut base.
Tom Yam Goong- (also called Tom Yam Kung) The soup that’s hot, sour, sweet and spicy, tom yam goong is a clear soup that usually has shrimp in it too.
Tom Kha Gai- Coconut-based chicken soup.
Satay- The Thai version of a kebob. Usual choices are chicken and beef, satay is typically mild and comes with a peanut dipping sauce.
Mango Sticky Rice- The most popular dessert for all ages. Exactly what it says it is.
Masaman Curry- The Thai version of beef and potato stew.
Yum Nua- Spicy beef salad.
Grand Rapids Area Thai Restaurants
136 Monroe Center Street Nw, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Phone: (616) 454-9801
674 Baldwin ST, Jenison, MI 49428
Phone: (616) 667-8901
Bangkok Taste Cuisine
15 Jefferson Ave. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Phone: (616) 356-5550
1233 28th Street SW, Wyoming, MI 49509
Phone: (616) 531-8070
950 Wealthy Street SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506
Phone: (616) 356-2573
2055 28th St SE # 9, Grand Rapids, MI 49508
Phone: (616) 452-0065
Rak Thai Bistro
5260 Northland Drive NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49525
Phone: (616) 363-2222
1717 28th St SW, Wyoming, MI 49509
4317 Kalamazoo Ave. SE, Kentwood, MI 49508
Phone: (616) 827-9955
Thai Fusion Restaurant
3097 Broadmoor Ave. SE, Kentwood, MI 49512
Phone: (616) 454-9801
XO Asian Cuisine
50 Monroe Center NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503