Celebrity chef Jet Tila wearing an apron and speaking to a crowd
Why Chopsticks Are Jet Tila's No. 1 Thai Restaurant Red Flag
By Haldan Kirsch
In America, chopsticks may seem like an essential element of any dining experience that can trace its origin to Asia, but chopsticks aren't common in Thailand. Celebrity chef Jet Tila says of chopsticks at a Thai restaurant, "If they set the table automatically with chopsticks, and they're not a noodle house, that usually tells me they're kind of pandering more to an American-style restaurant."
The reason that many Thai restaurants don't use chopsticks is that it is more common to eat with a fork and spoon in Thailand, which dates back to King Rama III in the 18th and 19th centuries, although his method failed to catch on. In the late 19th century, King Rama V adopted European dining practices, including the use of a fork and spoon, though knives were omitted because they were viewed as weapons.
Today, the common dining method is to use a fork in the left hand to push food onto the spoon in your right hand before bringing it to your mouth. "If a Thai restaurant sets with a spoon and a fork, that's gonna tell me that they're slightly more authentic because the proper way to eat Thai food, you know, with Jasmine rice, is fork and spoon," Tila says.