Royal Thai: Authentic Thai Food in Medellin

Panang Curry at Royal Thai
Panang Curry at Royal Thai.
Royal Thai in Parque Lleras
Royal Thai in Parque Lleras (photo: courtesy of Royal Thai)

The Royal Thai restaurant opened its doors in 2009, and to this day remains the one and only restaurant serving authentic thai food in Medellin.

During my first visit, over four years ago, I sat outside on the patio for lunch, where I had the opportunity to meet Janet, one of the Thai owners.

I’d already experienced what passed for Asian food at other restaurants in Parque Lleras, like Thaico a few blocks away, and was sorely disappointed.

Today, anyone can work off recipes downloaded from the internet, but it takes an intimate knowledge of traditional ingredients to execute them well.

I don’t believe Royal Thai would be a success without a Thai person in charge of the menu and kitchen.

And her influence doesn’t stop with the food. The restaurant’s design and decor also has a very modern, Thai feel to it as well.

Pad Thai (2009)
Pad Thai (2009)

Back in 2009, I was surprised to see my favorite Thai dish, spicy panang curry with chicken, wasn’t on the menu.

When I questioned Janet, she said that it was a more complicated dish, or that they didn’t have the ingredients (I can’t remember exactly).

I opted for another of my favorites, the pad thai. Soft, flat noodles, crunchy bean sprouts, a bit of scrambled egg, carrots, green onions, and crushed peanuts on top.

I deemed it a success, though the 20,000 peso ($11) price tag felt high to me, having spent three months eating it for $1 per plate in Thailand the year before.

Panang Curry at Royal Thai (2013)
Panang Curry at Royal Thai (2013)

Over the years, I’ve returned to Royal Thai on numerous occasions. It’s a terrific date spot, since so few paisas have been exposed to authentic Thai food.

During my most recent visit, earlier this year, I was excited to finally see panang curry was being added to the menu, along with massaman curry (which features the beloved potato).

I ordered a spicy version of the panang curry. I’m excited to say the chef didn’t hold back on the peppers.

It was spicy enough to make me break out in a sweat, thought not so much that I couldn’t enjoy it. Additional hot pepper sauce was brought to the table in a jar, but I didn’t need it.

My only critique is that the curry wasn’t very thick. When I order it in the States, the chicken is usually served in a bowl of curry. There’s so much, I often use the rice to soak up what’s left after eating the chicken.

I’m drooling just thinking about it.

Spring rolls
Spring rolls (2013)

In addition to the curries, or pad thai, either of which I always order, the menu features a variety of Thai classics, including:

  • Tom Yam Gung – Thai hot and sour soup with prawns
  • Tod Mung Goong – Thai shrimp cakes
  • Chicken Cashew Nuts
  • Pinepple Rice – Fried rice served in half a pineapple (Ok, I don’t think this is a Thai classic, but points for presentation)
  • Mango Sticky Rice (for dessert)

Authentic Thai food is a serious challenge in South America. After traveling Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Bolivia, Argentina and Uruguay, I only managed to have one really good Thai meal, and that was in Buenos Aires.

Luckily, we’ve got Royal Thai.

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  1. I’ve never been to Thailand so I can’t say that my palate knows what’s authentic and what isn’t but Royal Thai is delicious nonetheless. Thanks for you affirmation that Royal Thai is as authentic as it gets in most of South America. Sure, it’s a bit expensive but it’s a perfect place to bring a date on a week night (too crowded on weekends) with it’s romantic, exotic ambiance.

  2. Looks good — Thai food is addictive — encouraging to see an increasing number of international restaurants like this in Medellin and great that you are featuring them

    There’s a very good (and popular) Thai restaurant in Panama City called Sukhi, the owners of which were looking at opening a sister restaurant in Bogota, although I’m not sure whether that has happened yet

    • All this talk of Thai food has me going back to Royal Thai for lunch with a few readers tomorrow.

      To reiterate, Royal Thai has been around for four years. Thai food is hardly a trend here, but I did notice a new Thai restaurant/discoteca has opened on the 7th floor of Rio Sur mall. I haven’t checked it out yet.

  3. Dropping by its location a few times during lunchtime lately, it looks like Royal Thai is closed. No explanation sign or anything. Regretz.