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A Little Bit of Thailand in Tampa

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May 30, 2014 / Thai / By
Ryan Dickinson

Hidden in a peaceful little nook in the center of Tampa, is a wonderfully authentic and beautiful Thai temple. The temple was established in 1981 on over three acres of land. Since then it has developed into a complex that includes a community area, a living quarters for the monks, a school, and a sea wall with benches for lounging. Officially called Wat Mongkolratanaram of Florida, but better known as Wat Tampa, this temple is home to both religious services and a Sunday market.

The Sunday Market at Wat Tampa is the epitome of a Thai market, only located in the United States. It is open between approximately 9:30 A.M and 1:00 P.M and offers a comprehensive selection of Thai food and drinks. It additionally sells a variety of Thai vegetables and fruit trees.

I visited the Sunday Market and temple a few weeks ago with my parents and sister. Desperate to share with my family a bit of the enlightening experience I had living in Thailand; I dragged them with me to the temple one Sunday morning. I wanted them to understand why I had fallen in love with the Thai culture, people, and cuisine.

We arrived at the temple around noon and I immediately felt like I was returning home. Everything about the experience from the Temple’s architecture to the traditional Thai music playing to the almost unbearable heat felt authentic to Thailand. All of my expectations for Wat Tampa had been surpassed by just my first impressions. I was also pleasantly surprised at how many people were at the market and at how diverse the crowd was. Like any Thai market in a tourist-oriented city, the temple’s Sunday market was buzzing with individuals of all ages and demographics.

As my parents, sister, and I wandered through the temple area I had fun pointing out all of my favorite dishes and foods. Ultimately, they trusted me to order most of their meal. We ended up sampling pork noodle soup, papaya salad (my absolute favorite), pork jerky, mangos with sticky rice, and Thai tea. Since this was my family’s first time eating Thai food, I avoided ordering anything too spicy. The market does, however, offer spice and non-spicy versions of each dish.

The food itself was solidly good, but unfortunately not exceptional. Though the pork noodle soup was absolute perfection, I think the papaya salad was missing the precise blend of spices that usually make it so flavorful and tasty. Other than that, I have absolutely no complaints. The meal perfectly catered to my Thai homesickness and was a great introduction for my family to the Thai culture. My father ended up loving the sticky rice; my mother the papaya salad; and my sister, well, she just liked taking pictures.

After eating we wandered around the temple’s grounds enjoying the music coming from the traditional Thai band, counting the frogs in the water, and basking in the sunny weather. Overall, we had a great afternoon. For anyone located in the Tampa area this would make for a wonderful and scenic Sunday activity and one that I can’t recommend highly enough. 


N/A

Country: United States

Province/State: Florida

City: Tampa

Address: 5306 Palm River Rd

Zip/Post Code: 33169

Location Tips: N/A

Phone: (813) 621-1669

Website:http://wattampainenglish....

Price Guide:$ (What's this?) N/A = home cooked meal,etc
$ = street food, fast food,etc
$$ = bistro, cafe, pub, bar,etc
$$$ = fine dining,etc

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