Myles Karp on why there are so many Thai restaurants in America, far more than the population of Thai-Americans would suggest:
“Thai restaurants are everywhere in America. Mexican and Chinese restaurants might be more plentiful, but there are demographic reasons that explain the proliferation of these cuisines. With over 36 million Mexican-Americans and around five million Chinese-Americans, it’s no surprise that these populations’ cuisines have become woven into America’s cultural fabric. Comparatively, according to a representative from the Royal Thai Embassy in DC, there are just 300,000 Thai-Americans—less than 1 percent the size of the the Mexican-American population. Yet there are an estimated 5,342 Thai restaurants in the United States, compared to around 54,000 Mexican restaurants; that’s ten times the population-to-restaurant ratio. So, why are there so many Thai restaurants in the US?”
I’ve thought the exact same thing about the UK, and had idly assumed that it was because there were lots of Thai-Americans and we were influenced by American cuisine. The actual answer is fascinating.