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Thai cuisine with a French touch

Oct 30. 2014
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By Supalak Ganjanakhundee
The Na

1,464 Viewed

Chef Oth explains how he has added a twist to traditional dishes to meet farang tastes
Farang, notably the French, are a quite different from Thais when it comes to food. For them, food should involve all five senses, not just taste. 
“Once a plate is served, people look at its appearance, form and smell before even tasting it,” Oth Sombath, the chef at the Aux Trois Nagas (Three Nagas) restaurant in Paris, explained. 
There are plenty of Thai restaurants in the French capital, but Three Nagas is special because chef Oth has lived in Europe long enough to understand the dining culture there. 
The Mukdahan-native began his journey more than 30 years ago, when he was adopted by a Lao family, who later moved to Belgium after the Indo-China war. 
“First I wanted to be a mechanic but I had no funds to continue my education, so I decided to work in a Thai restaurant in Paris,” he said. “It was in 1984 that I began my cooking career, and I was with that restaurant for 13 years.” 
Oth cooks Thai cuisine, but his innovations are very different from the Thai dishes you see served in other restaurants. He uses French cooking methods to reinvent basic dishes. 
In the Isaan delicacy sua rong hai (crying tiger), for instance, he uses all the same ingredients as in the original dish, but instead of mixing the grilled beef with onion, chilli, lime and rice, he serves the beef with sauce, som tam (papaya salad) and sticky rice. He cooks the sticky rice in coconut milk. 
“I want farang people, notably the French, to appreciate Thai food and its tastes. They should have a good attitude toward our cuisine. Our ingredients are already super good, so why not upgrade the form and taste? 
“This is internationalised Thai cuisine and I am an ambassador of Thai food. If the government wants to promote Thailand as the world’s kitchen, then I think they should encourage chefs to cook internationalised Thai food like I do. 
“Of course, there are many westerners who appreciate authentic Thai food, but I think those who are so passionate about Thai food and culture can go and find it in our home. But here we serve Thai food that meets western tastes,” Oth explained. 
Many of Oth’s innovative dishes have won awards in France, and the chef himself hopes one day to win a Michelin star. 
Prasit Soubinh, the owner of Three Nagas, said the chef had great potential to win a star next year for his creativity. 

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