Every nationality is known for a different specialty: Italians makes perfect pastas; Japanese can work magic with raw fish; Argentineans consume copious amounts of beef; the French can make something delicious from any imaginable animal part.
And when it comes to signature cuisines across the world it's all over the board. Some are spicy. Some are all about the meat. Others are heavy on the rice.
Thai food, however, incorporates a little bit of everything; it's sweet, spicy, savory, and salty all at once.
With the abundance of Thai joints (or more specifically Thai-sushi) in South Florida, it's rare to hear someone utter the words, "I don't like Thai."
Even with all the options and the love, we all have our favorite spots.
Want to know how yours stacks up?
Here are the ten best Thai restaurants in Broward and Palm Beach County.
See Also: Ten Best Burgers in Palm Beach County
Set in the back corner of a shopping center on 17 Street Causeway (just down the mall from Carlos and Pepes), this wood adorned restaurant serves some of the most authentic Thai dishes that can be found in the Fort Lauderdale area. With an inexpensive buffet lunch and easy-on-the-wallet a la carte dinner options, anyone can enjoy a taste of Siam, even on a serious budget. Curries -- ranging from green to panang to rarer country curry -- start at just $9.50. Larb gai, a ground chicken salad with a spicy lime dressing, is just $7.95. A massive plate of fried rice starts at $7.50. With great food and low prices, it's definitely worth a try.
Lemon Grass is swank, but the price is right. It offers an expansive selection -- we're talking eight pages -- of Japanese and Southeast Asian cuisine its serene dining rooms and outdoor patios. But it's the Thai dishes that have us revisiting it over and over again. It's Thai basil stir fry is piquant and pungent. Panang curry is so tasty, you'll want to lick your plate. The drunken noodles will have you high off ecstasy. With four locations throughout Broward and Palm Beach (Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and Delray Beach), an inexpensive yet lavish meal is never too far away.
"Sexy food for sexy people," is the motto at this Delray Beach place. And we have to say, we tend to agree -- we like it, so obviously. While it does adhere to the South Florida sushi Thai equation, the results are certainly worth an A. All the old reliables are present: green curry, Thai fried rice, sauteed garlic sauce, pad kee mao, tom yum kai. Each of which gushes with piquancy. And the spot offers an array of special fusion options, such as lightly deep fried whole snapper with your choice of chili sauce, basil, or mixed veggies. It even has a lobster lover section of the menu, with preparations ranging from curry to fried rice to pad Thai -- it's like sex on a plate.
Set in the always busy Harbor Shops, just minutes away from Port Everglades, this glam Asian spot offers a wide range of fare, from traditional Thai to fusion to sushi. While it's all good, chef/owner Mike Ponluang hails from the land of Independence (a.k.a. Thailand) itself; so you know he can throw down with the best of them when it comes to his national cuisine. His pad Thai, curries, and traditional stir-fries, like chili paste cashew and basil sauce, are just as good as you'll find in a very authentic take-out joint. The only difference: here you'll find vibrant fare in sparkling, intimate digs.
6. Aah Loi
Aah Loi is Thai for delicious. And this Jupiter spot lives up to its name. Renowned chefs Roy Villacrusis and Charlie Soo of Talay Thai have created a menu of Thai and Japanese delights. Curries are brimming with spicy and savory notes. Panang and green curries are chock full of coconut. And the pad drunken (a rarity in these parts) is probably the best version that can be found. All right, so the menu isn't completely Thai. But it's options one of the best, hands down.
One of the oldest Thai restaurants in Broward, this Gateway spot has remained a fixture among locals for more than 20 years. Owner Susie Komolsane and her son, Eddie Watana are all about keeping the customers happy; they are frequently seen greeting each table with a smile. If the familial vibe is enough to get you in the door, the food will seal the deal. The portions are heaping, bursting with spice, and inexpensive. Huge plates of pad woon sen are just $12.95. Deep bowls of massaman curry start at the same price. Between the friendly service and the price-tag, this place knows how to stick around.
Born in Yasothon Province in Thailand, owner and chef Nopporn "Noopy" Areerak has been cooking true Thai food since a young age, beginning with his mother and supplemented with formal training from Oriental Thai Cooking School at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Bangkok. Set in Northwood Village, his brightly colored restaurant is filled to the brim with locals looking to get some a true taste of Southeast Asia. All of the old reliables are here: pad Thai, curries, tom kha gai. But with a pedigree like his, you'd be wise to try some of Areerak's chef specials, such as crispy Thai or red curry duck. It's haute and casual at the same time.
Set just a short walk away from the Atlantic Avenue's bustling dining district, this family-owned restaurant has created its own unique eating destination. With stylish zen-like decor, it's got the perfect date-night ambience. But the food is what will really heat things up. Curries are striking, with selections ranging from the reliable green and red to the Indian spiced yellow; all of which are available to your desired temperature. Go for the crazy hot, if you can handle it. House originals, like the cashew nut, fresh hot basil, and garlic black pepper, are just as vivid. Sometimes you need to spice things up to keep life exciting. Go here when you do.
When it comes to ethnic food, some of the best options are found in small hole in the wall spots. Set in an undistinguished strip-mall on Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach is a tiny Asian Market, with some of the best Thai food around. Don't be surprised if you feel a bit confused when you first walk through the door: it looks more like a market than a restaurant (hence the name). Pass through the aisles of Asian ingredients and order at the counter. This spot sells some of the most authentic Thai food South Florida has to offer. Curries -- masaman, red, green, and panang -- are so boldly flavored your mind will be blown. Pad Thai so sweet and spicy, you'll wonder how you ever enjoyed the ubiquitous Americanized versions you've eaten all along. All of these go for around nine bucks, but according to the handwritten, dry-erase sign, "Prices are subject to change." Casual take out isn't for everyone: just those in the know.
1. Thai Spice
When it comes to a good restaurant of any nationality, longevity is key to determining whether or not a place is good. Awards and accolades also help. This place has all of the above. It's consistently won awards for the past 14 years, including Best Thai Restaurant from New Times. There's a reason for all the praise, this elegant restaurant serves some of most vivid Thai fare around. All entrées, from red curry chicken to scallops basil, can be served safe-and-sound mild or burn-a-hole-in-your-tongue spicy -- and they taste phenomenal no matter what. Seasonal house specials might include a whole Florida lobster stuffed with jumbo shrimp and scallops, Thai Spice grouper, seafood clay pot, or a Siam duck. And the wine list can rival that of even the best French or Italian restaurants around; the list ranges from Gekkeikan sake all the way up to Roederer champagne and Opus One.
Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.