You may know how to judge a restaurant after you’ve eaten a meal there and are rubbing your belly.
But do you know how to pick an outstanding restaurant – before you ever eat anything?
Eating Thai Food shares these top secret ways to ensure that a restaurant serves outstanding food, before you ever sit down!
Note: Though many of these theories apply to restaurants and street food stalls world-wide, they are mostly geared toward restaurants in Thailand.
If you have any other suggestions or disagreements, we would love to hear your thoughts with a comment!
9. The restaurant is only open for a few hours a day
A restaurant that opens its doors for just a few hours a day, may as well just hand you a certificate that promises they will please you.
Let Tho Po Channa โต๋วโภชนา set the example; they are open from 11 am – 2 pm everyday and are unfailingly slammed with lunchtime customers. The deliciousness of their food is enough to make a grown man shed tears of joy.
Awards and reviews by credible gourmet sources do say something positive about a restaurant. But be cautious, with a great review comes a flood of hungry traffic.
And unfortunately, a flood of hungry traffic can lead to an increase in prices and a decrease in the overall quality of the food – that is unless it’s a street stall decorated with the awards and reviews!
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For outstanding food, pick the street food stalls that are still of the makeshift variety, but proudly display their awards and reviews.
7. A Benz is parked outside the stall
Let’s just be completely transparent here; anyone who can afford to drive a Benz can probably afford to dine at the Four Seasons Sunday brunch buffet.
When a blinged-out fancy vehicle is parked out-of-place on the grimy side of the street in front of a street food stall, rest assured, he’s not there for the tasty khao man gai (plain chicken and rice). Most likely he’s there because that street stall makes a rare or specific dish much better than any posh dining establishment can make it.
You may be surprised, but these 3 senses are an integral part of the outstanding restaurant selection process.
Use your nose to sniff something out, your sight to analyze it, and your ears to hear the cooking. If you can find a way to feel without making the entire restaurant infuriated – please let me know!
Oh…and taste. Well, you will already know it’s a great restaurant before you ever get this far!
5. Long line of customers
As humans, we don’t need a culinary psychologist to remind us that when there’s a long line, there will be outstanding food.
I’ll be the first to admit, when I see a crowd outside of a restaurant or stall, I’ll retract all plans for the day and join them for the feasting. That’s how Bangkok’s best fruit shake was discovered!
4. They only serve 1 thing
A restaurant that serves anywhere from 1 – 3 dishes can be guaranteed to take pride in their work and strive to cook that dish to the very best of their ability. Put your faith in a restaurant that only cooks 1 item – it’s a 1 hit wonder!
3. The menu is greasy and barely legible
Asking to look at the menu is a common procedure prior to eating at a restaurant. If the server brings you the menu and it is covered with hand oils and grease, there’s a pretty good bet that they serves delicious food.
Why? It means that happy customers have eaten one round and then asked to see the menu again for another round – the food is that good!
Flipping through the menu at Today Steak for instance, is on the edge of frightening, as it leaves one’s fingers sticky with some unknown residue. But, Wow, do they serve gangster food!
Before you make any judgements, read the entire paragraph and hear me out.
I don’t think men are better chefs than women.
However, in Thailand there are many more female cooks than male cooks. When a man is head of the kitchen, cooking is his devout hobby. When a woman is the cook, it could be her hobby, or it could just be her job.
So though I believe men and women are equally good at cooking, because there are so many more women cooks, the men have a higher percent chance of being top chefs.
1. The fat kid
Little do the owners of the restaurant know, their over-sized offspring could be their strongest form of advertising.
Yes, lil Mr. or Miss rolly poly happens to be the Number 1 indicator that the restaurant will be a smashing culinary success – before you ever eat there.
Kids are picky eaters (and often honest), and if they are aggressive enough to compete with adults at the dinner table before their 7th birthday, you know they have been well nourished – and yes, we want that same delicious treatment!
Evidence is rampant in Bangkok, look no further than the restaurant nicknamed Pumpkin Lady. While the extended family is preparing their neighborhood famous Thai desserts, their solo 7 year old son named Nong Poisien is busy taste testing (the official name of the restaurant is actually named after the little toddler himself)!
Notice 1 or even better, a few of these signs, and you will surely pick an outstanding restaurant and be eating like this (below).