Inside Mon Thai Bistro & Sushi, chefs sauté and fry authentic Thai dishes alongside the skillfully slicing, quick-rolling hands of sushi virtuosos. Dinnertime diners can feast upon a plethora of specialty dishes, such as the pla mauk pad prik with sautéed squid, basil, and vegetables ($14.95) and the spicy Devil’s chicken, stir-fried with Asian herbs, coconut milk, and cabbage ($12.50). Pair spicy Thai cuisine with raw delectables from the sushi menu, choosing between maki rolls ($4–$6.50), hand rolls ($3.00–$5.50), and specialty rolls ($7.50–$12.50). All lunch entrees start at $6.50 and are priced according to their protein; with options such as steamed or fried tofu ($6.85), chicken ($6.95), beef ($7.50), mussels ($7.95), and sea scallops ($8.25). Peruse Mon Thai Bistro & Sushi’s fresh menu of curries, orange chicken, kung pao beef, and stri-fry to witness a culinary harmony unseen since the California Raisins dominated the airwaves.
At Thai Bistro & Sushi, fresh ingredients, herbs, and traditional recipes combine into one delicious meal after another. Consistent in flavor but modest in appearance, the eatery has built a loyal following with dishes such as the drunken noodles?a stir-fried mix of flat rice noodles, broccoli, onions, and tomatoes?and basil fried rice. Diners can also flip the menu over to discover more than 25 classic and innovative sushi rolls such as the Texan Roll, which tops spicy salmon and avocado with crab and tempura flakes. Yet people come in for more than the food. On karaoke Fridays, visitors flock to the mic in order to belt out their favorite songs and sign autographs for their imaginary fans.
Thai Topaz has been in business for nearly a decade, but the path it took to get there was much, much longer. Somchai and Jiraporn Namarsa, the husband-and-wife team behind the restaurant, have picked up and moved numerous times, first from Thailand to Tennessee, then Wisconsin, then Texas. This was all in service of one desire: to support their daughter Somjira in her journey to becoming a doctor. Once Somjira was officially Dr. Namarsa, the family finally settled in San Antonio to open Thai Topaz.
Though the owners often call on generations-old recipes for their sauces and entrees, the key to the menu at Thai Topaz is change. As new dishes are discovered, less popular ones are retired. This leads to a dynamic menu that, like letting a crayon-wielding toddler loose on an art museum, strikes a pleasing balance between traditional favorites and original creations. Stand-bys such as pad thai and panang curry share space with unique dishes such as emerald salmon swimming in green curry and fresh avocado. The dessert menu is also respectably large, with treats ranging from sweet sticky rice with mango to homemade coconut ice cream.
An extensive menu of authentic Thai cuisine bursts in a frenzy of sour, sweet, and salty flavors at Thai Thai Café. Muffle tummy rumbles with appetizers ranging from a pair of soft spring rolls stuffed with shrimp or tofu ($3.95) to a 12-pack of warm boiled shrimp ($3.95). Thai Thai's entrees ($7.95 for most) enable guests to marry meat with merry noodles and veggies. Options include pairings such as garlic pork, teriyaki chicken, and stir-fried bamboo shoots, with most dishes available with vegan equivalents thanks to tofu, soy-based sauces, and the blessing of an ordained celery stalk. To turn any gathering into a chat worth talking about, simply extend a request for a tall, refreshing, and invigorating glass of thai iced tea or iced coffee ($1.95).
The sustainable Thai cooking classes at Thai Fresh have an edge on any cooking course looking to compete: their instructor is co-owner Jam Sanitchat, who developed her skill set over countless hours spent in her grandmother’s kitchen in Thailand. The fully stocked market not only hosts classes where students learn how to cook, but supplies them with the ingredients they need to make their own Thai meals. The deli area serves up inspiration with an extensive menu featuring classic Thai dishes and samples of dishes currently being taught in Sanitchat’s classes. Sanitchat brings an extra kick to her authentic recipes with local, seasonal, and sustainable ingredients such as free-range eggs, grass-fed beef, and rice noodles shaped by local document shredders.
Thrice, the neighboring café, serves fresh-baked pastries and sandwiches made onsite daily. A schedule of singers and folk artists entertains diners as they sip coffee, wine, or give themselves suds mustaches with local beers on tap.
When Gene Kobboon arrived in the United States in 1985, he initially sought a career as a commercial artist and took odd jobs in kitchens around Austin to help pay his way through school. He quickly realized he loved his work more than his classes, and switched his focus to becoming a chef. He then opened Thai Passion, combining his love of cooking with his artistic eye.
From his artfully plated Thai dishes to his handmade carvings that deck the walls, Mr. Kobboon's ample artistic talent flourishes throughout the restaurant. Each morning, he arrives at the restaurant with a bundle of fresh orchids and adorns each table with one of the delicate blooms. Golden lighting keeps the restaurant as warm and inviting as its cuisine's spicy aromas, which waft from the kitchen until 3 a.m. catering to late-night partiers and those trying to stay awake late enough to tuck in the moon.