There is a lot of sizzle and taste in the wok at Thai Cafe, which opened March 21 at 4511 Manatee Ave. W.
Owner Tuanchai Boonnun opened Thai Cafe with her friend, partner and mentor Grisna Cochran, who has more than 15 years experience managing restaurants. Also assisting with the operation is Boonnun’s sister, Boonsita Geden.
“We wanted to offer our guests a relaxed restaurant and to serve good Thai food. We are not fast food. We home make everything here,” Cochran said.
Boonnun and Cochran both cook, and it is a treat to watch them expertly blend, stir and mix ingredients in the wok, steam swirling up over a hot gas flame.
Among the dishes they cook up are Pad Thai and Thai Scallops Scampi.
Pad Thai is among the most popular dishes on any Thai menu, and includes rice noodles sauteed with eggs, bean sprouts, green onions and Thai seasonings with crumbled peanuts on the side. It lists for $11.85 on the menu.
The recipe for the Thai Scallops Scampi dish is Cochran’s invention. It includes pan seared scallops with bell peppers, lime juice, white wine, garlic and coconut cream sauce. It is served with rice and vegetables for $14.85.
Thai Cafe, located in a space formerly occupied by a pizzeria, is short on frills but big on taste.
Cochran says the menu is not fancy, but it is authentic and savory. Attribute that to the culinary skills of the cooks in the kitchen and the focus on cleanliness, organization and attention to each order.
The menu includes appetizers such as vegetable spring rolls, summer rolls, chicken satay (chicken marinated with coconut milk and curry powder and served with peanut sauce), and tom yum goong (shrimp, magrut leaves, straw mushrooms, lemongrass, cilantro, carrots and lime juice with Thai herbs and seasoning).
Also on the menu: five different Thai noodle dishes, such as Pad Khee Mao (rice noodles sauteed with bamboo shoots, basil, red peppers, zucchini, carrots and the chef’s secret sauce) and Pad Woon Sen (cellophane noodles sauteed with eggs, cabbage, celery, onions and Thai seasoning).
The menu counts 16 Thai rice dishes, among them fried rice and Pad Cashew Nuts (cashews sauteed with snow peas, Napa cabbage and carrots). Curry fans can choose from Green, Red or Panang Curry.
Rounding out the menu are four Thai style seafood dishes, among them Thai shrimp or scallop scampi, and two tilapia dishes.
All rice and noodle dishes are available as vegetarian.
Entrees range in price from $10.85 to $11.85, with the exception of the special seafood dishes, which are $14.85.
When Boonnun and Cochran took over the former pizzeria space, they installed an all-new kitchen.
The restaurant has seating for 15 and offers takeout. In the future, Thai Cafe will be adding beer and wine to the menu.
“We hope to do a lot of to go,” Boonnun said.
Thai Cafe is open from 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 4-9 p.m. Monday through Friday. The restaurant is open 4-9 p.m. on Saturdays and closed on Sunday.
For more information, call 941-900-1592, or visit the business Facebook page, shown as ThaiCafe.