Does Thai Food Smell?

Smoke from a wok. Image by mmmsedap

Smoke from a wok. Image by mmmsedap

This question makes me smile because it brings up images of me repeatedly sneezing at Thai restaurants because of the pungent smells of the food cooking on the stove.

The spices are so strong in some Thai dishes that if you are sitting downwind of the cooking area the smell can overwhelm your senses. It’s not uncommon for multiple people to start sneezing at the same time.

But the smell of Thai food is not unappealing are unappetizing. It is just strong and powerful. Actually, I would rather have my food have a lively smell like this rather than be boring.

But the intense smells are not associated with all Thai foods. Many Thai dishes have no smell at all are very mild. But there are indeed many signature Thai foods that have a strong smell, especially while it is being cooked.

At a modern Thai restaurant where the kitchen is separated from the dining area, the strong smells are not going to be a problem. But here in Thailand, most restaurants are open air and the kitchen is in the middle of the dining area.

If you are sitting right next to the wok, the smoke and strong odor can overtake your senses. This is why most of the Thai cooks wear a cloth facemask which filters the air before it enters their lungs.

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