By Megan Gallagher | SanDiegoVille Contributor
On Friday, August 15, the Thai Trade Center of Los Angeles, the Department of International Trade Promotion (DITP) and the Thai Restaurant Association of San Diego hosted a night of fine dining as part of their latest campaign “Thai Food for Health.” The event was not only a great opportunity to sample traditional Thai dishes from some of the best Thai restaurants in San Diego County, but was an interesting glimpse into Thai culture. It also served as a preview event for Thai Restaurant Week, taking place September 1-7, across San Diego and the United States.
After speeches by Mayor of Escondido Sam Abed and Mayor of Oceanside Jim Wood, the time finally arrived for guests to indulge in the many tastes of Thai available for the evening. More than 30 restaurants were in attendance, each of which were applicants to receive the “Thai Select” award, an official certification of authenticity and excellence for Thai restaurants, given exclusively by the Thai Government. A roundtable of judges was in attendance to grade the restaurants on food presentation, food quality and taste, to qualify as a “Thai Select” location.
My guest and I eagerly made our way toward the assembly line of Thai dishes. As someone who has only ventured into ordering mild pad Thai, I was excited to see the many different dishes available and to expand my palate. We piled on everything, from pad Thai and curry puffs to larb and crispy noodles. Knowing that Thai food is among the spiciest cuisines in the world, I promptly filled my water glass, but thankfully the restaurants kept it relatively mild to appease all of the diners. One of our favorite dishes was the Stuffed Chicken Wings from Bangkok Bay, a delicious twist on chicken wings. We also enjoyed the Crispy Noodles from Thai Go, which had a unique texture and a sweet taste that stood out from many of the other dishes. We ventured into more interesting dishes such as larb, ground chicken with Thai herbs in a spicy lime dressing, but ultimately found that we are creatures of habit and went back to Takhra’s station for a second serving of pad Thai.
Following dinner, many guests retreated to the dance floor to listen to the sounds of “As One,” who put on a great live performance. The live music, assigned seating and elaborate centerpieces made the event more reminiscent of a wedding than a traditional preview event, but none the less, we enjoyed the warm welcome we received from members of the Thai community, and the delicious food that they had to offer.
It was a winning night for all as each of the restaurants represented at the event rightfully earned their “Thai Select” certification. The winning restaurants, as well as more than 30 Thai restaurants across San Diego will have another unique chance to share their cuisine during Thai Restaurant Week, the first week of September. During this time Thai Select restaurants will be offering a 15% discount on all meals, to encourage restaurant patrons to venture outside of their palate’s comfort zone to see all that Thai food has to offer. For the full list of San Diego restaurants participating in Thai Restaurant Week, click here.