Flavors to Thai For
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With a slew of tasty, aromatic dishes at its disposal, Thai Issan Cuisine has customers clamoring for the authentic Thai and Laotian cuisine. The restaurant has resided in its Market City Shopping Center location for nearly a year, and customers continue coming back for more.
The vast assortment of dishes draws inspiration from the cooking of Issan — the northeast region of Thailand for which the eatery is named — and neighboring Laos.
“It’s the same thing as if you were cooking and eating at home with your family,” says Dokkeo Phommachanh, owner of Thai Issan Cuisine. “The family-style atmosphere really brings out the cooking of Thailand and Laos.”
While Thai food is known for the heat created by a wealth of peppers and spices, Phommachanh explains that diners can choose to order favorite dishes to their liking, whether it be mild or extremely hot and spicy. She also recommends a host of noodle dishes, and options with yellow curry, which she explains is prepared differently from most restaurants in that it is thicker and more flavorful.
“Most of the people that come in to eat ask for the Laotian-style dishes,” Phommachanh says. “Laotian style dishes are very spicy and tasty. You can really tell the difference.”
One iconic dish available at Thai Issan Cuisine is known appropriately as “King of Chili.” Pad Gar Pao ($8.95) is best described as a “Thai Loco Moco,” and includes a choice of chicken, pork or beef stir-fried with sweet basil, bell peppers and onions served over a bed of rice and topped with an over-easy egg.
Seafood also takes center stage at Thai Issan Cuisine, including Kahuku Shrimp ($11.25). The dish features a plateful of jumbo island shrimp prepared in a sizzling wok with bell peppers, onions and basil, which are then sauteed in a chili and oyster sauce. Similarly, Pad Ped Hoi ($10.95), also known as “Spicy Clams,” serves up fresh Manila clams tossed with bell peppers, onions and basil in a wok with zesty chili oyster sauce.
All the senses are appeased by Flounder with Fresh Garlic Sauce ($16.95), which serves up a whole deep-fried flounder and its buttery white meat on a bed of fresh vegetables, and an aromatic garlic and chili sauce. Diners can easily pick the moist fish right off the bone, and upon dipping it in the scintillating sauce, enjoy the distinct flavors present in each bite.
Thai Issan Cuisine also offers an assortment of daily lunch specials served Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The specials, many of which feature the restaurant’s stellar curry, come with a choice of white or brown rice, tossed salad with house Thai dressing and a soft drink. While the specials are listed on the menu as being served at limited times, Phommachanh notes that she will prepare them for diners anytime throughout the week.
“If customers ask, we can make the specials for them anytime, not just for lunch” she explains. “We do that for them, and they can choose any curry they want — not just the one selected for that day. It’s very flexible. They can even order the specials on Saturday and Sunday, and I will make it for them.”
In addition to the dine-in selections at Thai Issan Cuisine, takeout and catering orders are welcomed.
Thai Issan Cuisine
Market City Shopping Center
2929 Kapiolani Blvd. #213, Honolulu
Open daily, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.