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Tis the Season For Thai Cuisine
Inside Feature

Tis the Season For Thai Cuisine

Story By Kelli Shiroma Photos By Nathalie Walker
December 4 - 10, 2011

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Centrally located in Waikiki on Kuhio Avenue, Keo’s Thai Cuisine offers its customers a casual, yet elegant, open-air dining experience. The eatery, which first opened in 1977, has attracted customers locally and nationally since its beginning. The recipient of numerous prestigious awards such as “America’s Best Thai Restaurant” by Bon Appetit magazine and “Top Table” by Gourmet magazine, Keo’s is definitely one of the choice dining spots in Honolulu.

  • Panang Curry Soft Shell Crab ($19.95)
  • Tom Yum Soup with shrimp ($4.95)
  • Pad Thai noodles with chicken $14.95
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Keo’s is not only renowned for its atmosphere — a tropical garden ambience with fresh flowers, exotic floral arrangements and original artwork provides customers with a tranquil setting in the midst of congested Waikiki — but also for its extensive menu.

“We’ve been in business in Hawaii for 35 years already, and Keo’s is the biggest and oldest Thai restaurant in Hawaii,” says owner Keo Sananikone. “We have more than 100 variations of dishes, and everyone can find something they like on the menu.”

The restaurant’s regular dining menu features Thai, seafood and island cuisine, ranging from familiar dishes such as Spring Rolls ($7.95), Pad Thai Noodles with Chicken ($14.95) to more unique entrees like the Panang Curry Soft Shell Crab ($19.95) and Tom Yum Soup ($4.95). The eatery’s dishes are made with fresh herbs and spices grown organically on Sananikone’s farms.

“We have our own farm (on the North Shore) and grow herbs and spices,” Sananikone says. “All our spices and herbs are organically grown on our farm, as well as some of the flowers used for decorations.”

In addition to its regular menu, Keo’s Thai Cuisine will feature a Special Christmas Set Menu for the holiday season. The menu ($34.95 per person) includes an assortment of the eatery’s frequently requested appetizers, salad and entrees.

Featured appetizers on the Special Christmas Set Menu include the Spring Rolls — served with lettuce, cucumber, mint leaves and a vinaigrette dipping sauce — and Crispy Noodles. The Green Papaya Salad is a customer favorite, as it features fresh, organically grown papaya that’s shredded and mixed with red chili, tomatoes and fresh lime juice, then served with fresh cabbage and lettuce. Customers can then select one entree from a list including the restaurant’s signature Evil Jungle Prince with Chicken, Panang Shrimp and Scallops, Spicy Sweet and Sour Seafood with Mixed Vegetables, Snow Peas with Shrimp and Mushrooms, and Sirloin Steak with Shiitake Mushrooms. In addition, customers have a choice of jasmine white rice, sticky rice or brown rice.

“The Evil Jungle Prince is an original recipe,” Sananikone explains. “We call it ‘evil’ because it’s hot, ‘jungle’ because the sweet basil usually grows by itself (in a natural, jungle-like environment) in Asia, and ‘prince’ because the dish is fit for a prince — we use the best cut of meat, chicken and beef. Our Curry with Shrimp and Scallops — our famous Bangkok-style Panang curry — is one of the most popular curries.”

The Spicy Sweet and Sour Seafood with Mixed Vegetables features a seafood medley of fish, scallops, shrimp and calamari, while the Sirloin Steak with Shiitake Mushrooms includes a high-quality piece of steak topped with mild shiitake mushroom sauce.

Sananikone emphasizes that the restaurant will be open for dinner on both Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. For customers craving Thai cuisine for breakfast or lunch on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, Sananikone encourages them to visit Keoni by Keo’s, the eatery’s sister restaurant that first opened in 1998, located at 2375 Kuhio Ave. Keoni by Keo’s features a menu of both Thai and American food — American favorites like pancakes, French toast and omelets for breakfast, and a variety of Thai and American plates for lunch.

“Keo’s sister restaurant, Keoni’s, will be serving breakfast, lunch and dinner (on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day),” Sananikone confirms. “Call 922-9888; Keoni opens from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.”

For those still doing their Christmas shopping for fellow foodies or lovers of Thai cuisine, Sananikone recommends Keo’s Thai Cuisine, his award-winning cookbook that was first released in 1986 with nearly 100 recipes.

Keo’s Thai Cuisine, which is currently on the international best-seller list, features easy-to-follow recipes and colorful photography.

Cookbooks are on sale for $19.95 and can be purchased at the restaurant or all major bookstores islandwide.

Keo’s Thai Cuisine

  • Where
    • 2028 Kuhio Avenue
    • Honolulu, HI 96815
  • Call
    • (808) 951-9355
  • Hours
    • 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.
    • Open daily
  • Website