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Orchid House gains recognition as original Thai restaurant


Thailand Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Wattana Kunwong (left) presenting Thai Select Award certificate to the CEO of Orchid House Restaurant, Ms. Nattanee Booncharoen (right) with Head of Decorator, Orchid House Restaurant, Miss. Nakhnan Taphirun and Head of Chef, Miss. Nanrapat Dumont posing with her.

Recently food lovers gathered at the newly opened Orchid House Restaurant in Victoria Island, Lagos, to witness a remarkable celebration of Thai cuisine.

Orchid was being awarded the ‘Thai Select Premium’ certificate, a piece of paper that cements the restaurant’s position as one of the only few restaurants in the world where authentic Thai cuisine is served.

Since the 1960s, Thai cuisine, renowned for its incredible combination of tastes, has become a global sensation, driving demand across continents. According to some estimates, there are approximately some 15,000 Thai restaurants around the world.

However, due to the cuisine’s surging popularity, many restaurateurs try to attract customers by naming their business ‘Thai restaurant’, despite the fact that many of them do not even have Thai food on their menus.

Recognising this situation and the importance of maintaining high standard and quality of Thai food, the Royal Thai Government launched the “Thai Select” program, with the aim of certifying and promoting restaurants who serve authentic Thai cuisines across the world.

So, Thai food lovers only need to look out for the ‘Thai Select’ stamp of approval to confirm they are getting authentic Thai service.

That Tuesday evening, Orchid, became one of the very few restaurants across the world to receive the certification. In attendance was the Thailand’s Ambassador to Nigeria, Wattana Kunwongse.

“I feel that this is the home of our people,” Mr. Kunwongse said, during a tour of the restaurant. “I don’t feel alienated. I am, right now, standing in another country while still in Nigeria. I feel that I am home. It’s a very beautiful setting. My colleagues came here last year and had a taste, and they confirmed that this is authentic Thai.”

Orchid’s history is a very peculiar one. Its founder, Mattanee Booncharoen, popularly referred to as ‘Tukie, is a Thai who has been in Nigeria for more than 20 years. “Nigeria is like my country already. I have lived here for so long, more than 20 years.

So when the foreign exchange crisis affected my import-export business two years ago, I started to think of what to do and I thought of starting a restaurant,” she said.

The first branch was opened in Apapa and things were excellent for the first year until the port city’s traffic gridlock caught up with Tukie’s bottom-line and she decided to move closer to her customers on the Island by opening another branch.

The Thai Select Premium certification comes barely four months after opening the second restaurant.

“This award shows if you want to eat authentic Thai food, you can come here,” Tukie said, a gleam in her eyes.

Guests were later treated to a sumptuous Thai dinner at Orchid. The food was stocked with herbs and, true to its (Thai food) reputation, had taste that combined sourness, sweetness, spiciness and saltiness.

Expounding on this taste-dynamism, the Thai Ambassador, Mr. Kunwongse, said it was a result of Thailand’s ability to borrow from great cultures, infuse its own local content and produce something marvellous.

“Thailand is located between India and China, and we call it the Indo-China peninsula,” Mr. Kunwongse said. “So it is a kind of melting pot for the two great cultures – India and China and that is why Thai food is the mix between Indian and Chinese cuisine and culture. That’s why Thai food is unique.”

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