Authentic Southeast Asian Cuisine Brought to South Arlington
Apr 18, 2017 08:00AM
By Melanie Heisinger
A Thai Twist
By Kerry Pipes
The authenticity of the Thai cuisine at Arlington’s Thai Texas restaurant is as real as it gets. Though the three-year-old operation was launched by Kevin Jones and his wife Asama, affectionately known as “Sam,” the heart and soul of the food served here is all the domain of Sam’s mom, a 70-year-old Thai native who has been cooking since she was 15 years old. “Mama Thai” doesn’t speak much English but her culinary skills have the restaurant serving up some of the tastiest Thai food in the area.
We sat down recently with Kevin and Sam and listened as the story of their lives and restaurant unfolded. “Sam and I both had previously been married. When we came together seven years ago we blended our two families and the uniqueness of our two cultures,” says Kevin, who was in retail management and has a 17-year-old son. Sam first came to America from Thailand when she was a teenager in the 1990s. She eventually moved to the North Texas area and earned an accounting degree from UTA. She and Kevin married about seven years ago. When Sam’s mother and father decided to move to America a few years later, it got them all thinking about opening a Thai restaurant that would give Sam’s mom a place to work and share her authentic Thai cooking skills with the public. Her secret recipes and sauces have been turning heads in Arlington and surrounding areas ever since.
“This is really Sam’s and Mama Thai’s place,” says Kevin. “I built the interior and did all the remodeling and I still go and retrieve food and supplies for the daily cooking.” He’s also busy with all three kids and their activities and overseeing the building of a new home. Sam is at the restaurant every day, greeting and visiting with customers and managing the front of the house, including overseeing about a half dozen employees, while Mama Thai directs everything in the kitchen.
Demand for their food has even led to the creation of a bustling delivery service. Kevin had just picked up a new delivery vehicle when we met. “These days probably 45 percent of our business is delivery,” he says.
Food & Atmosphere
Kevin’s interior remodel of a former sake place has more than a touch of Thailand in it. He built booths with thatched “roofs” on them. He says it reflects what a traveler might find working their way through the interior of Thailand. There’s even a display mimicking a “Thai river market” trading marketplace with the goods displayed in tiny boats (you just have to see this for yourself). Full-size Texas and Thailand flags hanging next to each other from the ceiling greet you when you walk in the door. Little Thai tapestries adorn the walls and tables and chairs fill the center of the restaurant’s space. They’ve done a great job creating an ambiance reflective of Thailand. But it’s the food you come for here – and it’s the real payoff.
You’ll find many of the Thai cuisine standards at Thai Texas but it's the way they prepare them and a few other twists that make the menu unique. After all, have you ever heard of Thai Chili Poppers? These shrimp and cream cheese treats are a fun way to get started.
They also have what they call Crispy Pad Thai, and Khao Soi, a soup with chicken, egg noodles, white, green and red onions.
There are several curry offerings to be found along with a mix of stir fry standards, stir fry noodle favorites and soups. Everything is made to order and Kevin says you can choose from “1 to 5 spiciness” levels for Americans or “6 to 10 spiciness” for real authentic Thai levels. As Kevin says, “We serve authentic Thai that’s as close to Thailand as you can get without going there.”
On our visit, we got to sample a number of dishes, just like you would be treated in Thailand, says Sam. There was the yummy and unique peanut dressing that enhanced the little salad that began the smorgasbord. Then there was Pad Thai, Massaman Curry, Crispy Duck Basil, and Pineapple Fried Rice with chicken, pineapple, raisins, roasted cashew nuts, egg, tomato and onion. The dessert treat was Sticky Rice with Mango and a tall glass of Thai Iced Tea washed it all down. Everything was fresh and hot, and you can even hear them cooking your order while you wait.
Thai Texas is located at 5736 SW Green Oaks Blvd in
Arlington. They are open for lunch and dinner but closed on Mondays. Hours are
Tuesday through Friday from 11:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. and for dinner from 4:30
until 9:00 p.m. Saturday from 11:00 a.m. until 9:30 p.m. and Sunday from Noon
until 9:00 p.m. Visit them online at
www.thaitexas.info or call 817-870-6057.
A Visit with Kevin and Sam
Kevin and “Sam” Jones met on Match.com, seriously. The two were each previously married and have blended their two families to create a happy marriage and a successful family business. Their Thai Texas restaurant sits just off I-20 in South Arlington. The three-year-old operation has been serving and delivering hot and spicy (or not so spicy, if you prefer) Thai food to a growing fan base. The couple is even building a new home about 5 minutes away from their restaurant in South Arlington.
We had a chance to visit with Kevin and Sam recently to find out more about their “labor of love” and about their own personal interests and lives. Here’s what they told us.
What makes your food/menu unique?
Kevin: We do everything fresh and from scratch, on every order. I personally go at least twice a week and purchase all of the ingredients. We never sacrifice quality for quantity. If we’re crowded, it may take a little longer to get your food but you can be sure it will be made just the way you ordered it.
Any new menu items on the way?
Kevin: We have been considering a Thai Beef Stew but we might wait for colder winter months to introduce it.
What is the most popular or most requested dish you make?
Sam: All of our curry dishes are popular. The Drunken Noodle, Pad Thai and Volcano Chicken are ordered often.
How do you want customers to remember their experience?
Kevin: We have tried to create a family atmosphere. We are a family business and we try to treat our customers like family. We greet them by name and Sam often knows exactly what they like to order.
What is your favorite type of food to eat?
K: Our Spicy Basil Chicken with bell pepper, onion, baby corn and basil sauce is my favorite.
S: I’d say Pad Thai. I don’t really care that much for American food.
If you go out to eat, where do you go?
K: I love a great steak. I like to go to Texas Roadhouse in Mansfield.
S: I like the Sake Hibachi Sushi & Bar in Mansfield.
What are your other hobbies?
K: I love to go fishing or visit the gun range and shoot. But I still really enjoy building things. I had a blast remodeling our restaurant and doing all of that myself.
S: I love watching movies and TV. I love food. I love taking road trips with our family, especially to Florida.
Do you have a favorite quote or advice you’ve received or given?
K: Do one thing better than anybody else and love doing it!
S: Make yourself happy by forcing yourself to engage with people, even when you don’t feel like it. When you act happy it’s easier to become happy.
What’s the last book you read?
K: I don’t spend much time reading books but I like to read news online and elsewhere.
S: I think the last book I read was one of my accounting textbooks at UTA back in 2008! (laughing)
If you had to choose another profession what would it be?
K: I used to work on a land surveying crew and have always loved building things. So I would be involved some way with building and construction.
S: I love to oversee and manage things so maybe some kind of manager or coordinator.