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The sweet burn of Thai cuisine is one of the reasons why many choose to return to the land of smiles. However, it’s easy to get a taste of Thailand without making the trip, as there are plenty restaurants in HCMC ready to serve up the fiery feast that you crave. Although it seems unlikely at first glance, there are quite a few similarities shared between Vietnamese and Thai cuisines. For one, many dishes of both cuisines are dominated by three flavours: spicy, sweet, and sour. Also, some of the main ingredients are shared as well, with basil, sesame, ginger, chilli, lemongrass, and lemon leaves often being the main sources of flavour. These similarities make Thai cuisine especially attractive to Vietnamese people, so it’s not uncommon to find popular Thai dishes in local restaurants, even if they don’t specialise in foreign food. Thai hotpot, or lẩu Thái , is the most popular dish brought here from Thailand. The basic recipe for lẩu Thái has been an inspiration for many other kinds of hot pot in Vietnam, and after countless local iterations it is now an integral part of local cuisine. In fact, it’s so commonplace in Vietnamese restaurants that few people realise that its roots lie in the quintessential Thai classic, tom yum goong soup. The difference in taste is fairly easy to spot: the Thai kaffir lime leaves responsible for the distinctive flavour of the dish is not available in Vietnam, so the local version is markedly different from its culinary forebear. Despite the apparent ubiquity of Thai dishes in local restaurants, it’s easy to see that the selection is extremely limited: lẩu Thái , pad Thai , red or green curry, and a few types of Thai fried rice are fairly easy to find, but you’ll need to put in some extra effort if find yourself craving a fiery green papaya salad or zippy crab cakes. Fortunately, there are plenty of Thai restaurants all over the city that serve traditional Thai favourites. Most of them focus on popular dishes with an emphasis on central Thai or Bangkokian street food. This won’t be a problem to most expats, but those who’ve spent a significant amount of time in Thailand might find themselves missing truly fine Thai dining.