Johan and Nathan infront of Palma Thai Kitchen. | Johan Södergren

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Ever since I lived in Thailand in the late 90’s I have loved the country, its people, and the food unconditionally. I had heard so much about Thailand from friends travelling over there for holidays and the working conditions as a tour guide were very good compared to the Canary Islands which was the other alternative, so I was really happy when I got my placement in Phuket.

However, it took me some time to adjust to Thailand. We arrived after a 14-hour flight and were received in the airport by a smiley local guide who took us to a big black fancy Mercedes and asked us to hold tight. The one hour drive to the resort where we were staying was one of the craziest I had ever done. The motorway had some asphalt missing here and there. The local guide explained that the landowners refused to sell their plots to the government, but the Government started to build and when 70% was OK they opened for traffic. 70% of the drivers knew they must drive on the left side in Thailand and the other 30% don’t, he said with an even bigger smile. I was happy we survived the trip. We arrived at the hotel and were assigned a moped and ordered to drive to a restaurant where the team was waiting for us. My collegue who had never driven in left side traffic asked me to drive. I did, he jumped on and just as we came around the corner I had to stop for an elephant. Someone had tied a blinking light in his tail. Culture clash completely. It was a lovely season, I learned some Thai, saw a big part of their beautiful country, made beautiful friends of which some have visited me here in Mallorca and that I am still in contact with. Thailand influence in Mallorca for me, is all about food.

There are about 1000 people originally from Thailand in Mallorca according to Johan and Nathan Södergren a Swedish/Thai couple who have just started their new business and life in Mallorca together with Johan’s mum Lena. I found the Restaurant called Palma Thai Kitchen on a page for Scandinavian owned companies and decided to head over for dinner one night after a nice movie at the Rivoli cinema next door. As we asked for the chef’s suggestions, Johan recommended the crispy duck in red curry and the Som Tam spicy papaya salad, both excellent and tasty. During the dinner he started to tell me their story and how they ended up in this particular part of Palma. “We started to visit the island around 9 years ago and fell in love with Mallorca and we soon knew that we wanted to start a new life here. We left our jobs and sold everything in Sweden. We started to look for locals to start up our own business in 2018, and the idea was to open in a tourist area but then Covid struck, and it made us rethink the concept. Last year we started to look in the Palma area. First we thought that Playa de Palma could be something worth a try, but it was not easy at all and after some disappointments, we found this business site in Blanquerna. The area is wonderful! It is not touristy at all, you can only find one hotel here, and what we love the most is that it’s lively all year around. The mix of people is fantastic. The street is full of life and the trees make it a lovely oasis during the summer months. Every Mallorcan knows about Blanquerna.”

About opening the business, Johan says: “The paperwork can be very challenging in the beginning. We do not speak the language and we have had great help from our Gestoria. The system in Spain is not very straight forward and for us as foreigners, it is impossible to succeed without help. We realised quickly that we needed a take away service to get the business going and we have partnered up with one of the delivery Apps in Palma and it works really well.” About the food he says: “It’s very important for us that the food be authentic. The smell and taste should take you to Thailand. We are not interested in adjusting the food. Nathan makes real Thai dishes, some of them you must order a day in advance, and we do get a lot of Thai customers that come and eat here, and other nationalities that just love authentic Thai food. It has been a struggle to get started. Our greatest surprise so far was that the authorities closed the terrace one day because they did an inspection, and we presented the wrong paperwork due to a misunderstanding. That took our Gestoria a couple of hours to sort out,” he laughs.

The whole family is happy about living in Mallorca. “We love to make small excursions on our day off (Mondays) and there are some really lovely spots to visit still.” I had to ask Johan as a final question, if you can’t have Thai food what do you prefer to eat? “We both love seafood,” he says and smiles. Mallorca Bulletin wish the couple good luck with their first season in Mallorca.