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Old 01-02-2013, 01:43 PM
 
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I wonder why Thai food is more popular here than Indian food, when you see there are more Indian than Thai people here. Is it simply because people like the food more?

Are there stats on how many Thai or Indian (etc.) restaurants exist in America?? I'd like to know for the heck of it.

I just saw on TV that 51% of manicurist businesses in America are owned by Vietnamese people. I wonder how that happened, except that Vietnamese people are just good at manicures.
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Old 01-02-2013, 05:18 PM
 
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I don't know what stats are out there and which cuisine would have more restaurants, but if we are to assume that Thai is more popular I would put one point towards it is that it is so much more similar and close to other Asian cuisines (chinese/vietnamese) which makes it much more accessable to American palletes. Also, although Indian food does have heat, it is a very different spice/taste profile to what Americans are used to, whereas Thai heat and spice is much more similar and (again) accessable to traditional American palettes.
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Old 01-02-2013, 07:07 PM
 
Location: Currently living in Reddit
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I was going to disagree with the premise out of hand, but apparently that is indeed the case everywhere except where I grew up (NYC metro).

A quick look at Urbanspoon for # of restaurants in each category in several major cities:

NYC: Indian 454 Thai 338
LA: Thai 582 Indian 252
SF: Thai 487 Indian 383
CHI: Thai 346 Indian 188
SEA: Thai 319 Indian 117
DC: Thai 268 Indian 165
ATL: Thai 196 Indian 101
DFW: Thai 178 Indian 123
MIA: Thai 268 Indian 77
BOS: Thai 165 Indian 116

I'm going to guess that Thai seems healthier to people, thus more amenable to diet-conscious Americans. Many Thai curries are also sweet (coconut milk) which plays into American palates.
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Old 01-02-2013, 11:53 PM
 
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I don't think that "healthier" has anything to do with it at all. How many American dinning decisions are made based on health, seriously? I know that as foodies we have started looking at things like sustainability, and organics, and at times healthy options. But American dinning habbits are certainly not very informed by health consciousness.

It really does have to do, in my humble opinion, with Thai being so similar and relatable to more common Chinese/Vietnamese/Japanese types of Asain dinning. Indian is something completely different - the foods, their preparations, their flavor/spice profile, the traditional way of eating it - from anything remotely common or familiar to most American pallettes. Unless you grew up around and eating/exposed to Indian food there is much more of a barrier to it.
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Old 01-03-2013, 02:26 AM
 
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It could be because of the fact that many "Thai" restaurants are actually owned and run by many non-Thais. The vast majority of Thai places in the US are knockoffs of the real cuisine and resemble very little of the authentic dishes from Thailand. Many Westerners simply can't handle the level of heat in a lot of dishes that you would get in Thailand and also find the idea of eating all sorts things in real Thai food like internal organs, fermented pork skin/fish, rat, insects, or desserts with fish flakes absolutely repulsive. There are many dishes though that Westerners would like but finding a place in the US that has a real Thai chef that knows what theyre doing and that has access to real ingredients is difficult.
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Old 01-03-2013, 07:51 AM
 
Location: Currently living in Reddit
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Quote:
Originally Posted by texantodd View Post
I don't think that "healthier" has anything to do with it at all. How many American dinning decisions are made based on health, seriously? I know that as foodies we have started looking at things like sustainability, and organics, and at times healthy options. But American dinning habbits are certainly not very informed by health consciousness.
I'd counter with noting that the typical American obese diner isn't going to Asian restaurants, except Chinese takeout and maybe Japanese hibachi (Benihana). Couple of reasons for that: a) they're not interested in foreign foods, b) there usually aren't doggie bags involved.

While there are plenty of vegetarian options on a typical Indian menu, you usually don't find protein substitutes like tofu, nor do typical Indian dish presentations involve raw/lightly cooked fresh vegetables. Thai is also much more amenable to leaving stuff out, thus satisfying the increasing numbers of picky eaters and those with various food sensitivities (real or imagined).
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Old 01-03-2013, 06:00 PM
 
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I think it is mostly the spice profiles of Indian food that make it less popular to the American palate. I have a decided preference myself for Thai over Indian, and I can get very good, authentic renditions of both cuisines in my area. In my case, I find the sheer number of different spices used plus the level of spicing makes most Indian food taste murky to me much of the time. A few bites and I'm bored with it. That, and I don't like the flavor of curry leaf or anise very much, and both those spices are used quite a lot in Indian food. I do love mujarrdah (sp? the lentil & caramelized onion dish) and bhel puri / chaat papri though.

As for the Vietnamese manicurists, it was a job they could get without having to know much English or spend a lot of time/money in training. The wave of Vietnamese nail shops occurred after the fall of Saigon, with so many families leaving for the US and having to leave almost all their money & possessions behind. This is one way they were able to get some money quickly in spite of the language barrier, and it is a mostly cash business, so no waiting 2-4 weeks for a paycheck.
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Old 01-03-2013, 06:03 PM
 
Location: Texas
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Indian food tastes more 'foreign.'

Well done (not mass made like the buffet style that seems to dominate the Indian restaurant scene), the flavors can be very distinct and delicate without being overpowering.

I can throw a rock and hit 10 Thai restaurants and none of them do buffets.
Some Indian restaurants don't either...those tend to be the most delicious.
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Old 01-03-2013, 06:06 PM
 
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Thai flavors and Indian flavors are very similar. Thailand is part of Greater India and thus they have taken on much of the culture and cuisine from India. Thai foods tend to have noodles and other blends from China due to the large Chinese population settled there.

Around here people eat both frequently. Thai food seems more appealing to Americans because it looks more like [American] Chinese food.
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Old 10-30-2013, 08:14 AM
 
Location: Middle America
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Oh, man, if given the choice between Thai and Indian, I will choose Indian every time.
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