Rating: 8 / 10
Many of my happiest food discoveries have been in random suburbs that are mostly overlooked by the mass tourist droves. Away from the high rent prices and temptation to pander to fools, honest souls can create their authentic dishes and pray that a small loyal clientele discovers them and spreads the word.
Korat Tam Tam is just the ticket. Tucked away down a small vehicle-less lane, away from the sights of downtown Helsinki, I had to rely on the wile of my cousin to drive out here under the promise of "Small place but really decent food".
Never one to deny myself the opportunity of sampling Asian cuisine, we headed out in the van, found parking and managed to get the last available table despite arriving just after the lunch rush. Good sign.
We were welcomed by a flustered lady bouncing between tables with huge pots of soup, cokes and plates of rice. She took our order and we found refuge by the front window. Behind us kids ran around and boxes of soda were stacked in the corner, just like most restaurants in Thailand. We went for the chicken Panang Curry (asked for it Phet Phet) and the Massaman curry.
Our Panang was laid down beside me with skillfull poise. The gravy shimmered in the afternoon peaks. Fresh green beans and bright orange segments created a stark contrast to the speckled tabletop. As they say though, the proof is in the pudding.
A spoonful of spicy-ish curry hit my tongue in moderate revelations. The flavours were all on point, the chicken nicely cooked, the beans still had their crunch, but the overpowering flavour was of sweetness. Palm sugar or the regular kind, had been added a bit too lavishly to truly win over my aging heart.
Similarly, the Massaman curry had good flavour, nicely cooked ingredients, but it too suffered from a heavy hand in the saccharine department.
All in all Korat Tam Tam is a wonderful bet if you're looking for affordable, authentic tasting Thai food in Helsinki, and it is by far the best place I tried. I'm sure the chef would not be offended if next time I simply mentioned "Less Sugar", but these are things you don't know until you've tried them so I'll learn for the future.
It's great to see these places appearing in the suburbs of Helsinki, and I really hope to discover more of them on future visits. For now, this definitely gets my vote for "Best Thai In Finland", as long as they just tone down the sweetness.
These recommendations are just personal opinions based on my palate, things change, chefs get fired or replaced, places open-close, relocate, so take it all with a pinch of MSG and discover your own gems too. But please do try a few of these, they have been researched exhaustively.
"Sadness is tempered by umami, grief by the motion of slurping, hope restored in the ladling of glistening, fatty broth"