Colorful Thai Curries Spice Things UpDigest On the Menu
June 30, 2013
Story By: Kyle Galdeira | Photos by: Nathalie Walker
Carole Thirakoun brings more than 30 years of culinary experience and mastery of Thai cuisine to the table as the owner of Thai Valley Cuisine, which has served as “Hawaii Kai’s Neighborhood Thai Restaurant” for 20 years at the entrance to Kalama Valley.
Thirakoun has developed a loyal following, in great part due to her delicious curries that she crafts fresh daily. Using fresh vegetables and spices, many of which come from her own garden, the culinary wizard uses fresh green chilies, turmeric (for yellow curry), kafal fruit and leaves, red onion, garlic, lemongrass, Chinese parsley root, kalangka, kachai and red chili peppers (for the medium and hot curry choices) to build the colorful curries.
“The customers come looking for great tasting, healthy food with a lot of flavor,” Thirakoun says. “I learn from what my customers like to eat, and I can accommodate their needs by making my own curry paste. Some people shy away from Thai food because they think it’s always hot and spicy, but I can create mild variations, too.”
Thirakoun recommends Green Curry ($10.95 with chicken, beef or pork, $9.95 with vegetables, $11.95 with shrimp, calamari or fish, and $13.95 for seafood), which also includes potatoes, carrots and onions along with bamboo, eggplant and hints of basil.
Red Curry with Seafood ($13.95) features a tasty mix of shrimp, calamari and fish coupled with tasty eggplant, bamboo and basil.
Seafood enthusiasts also enjoy Snow Crab Curry ($17.95), as the rich and tender crab meat soaks up the flavors released by one’s choice of green, yellow or red curry.
All curry dishes are made to order, and can be prepared at various spice levels, from mild to tongue-torching hot. Diners also may add noodles for $1 more. And don’t forget to include an order or two of Sticky Purple Rice ($2.50), as the naturally-colored rice adds a nice texture to one’s plate, while also soaking up all the rich flavors included in the curry.
In addition to offering authentic and contemporary Thai selections, Thirakoun also strives to meet the needs of customers with special dietary needs. For instance, she suggests Eggplant Stir Fry ($10.95, $9.95 with all vegetables, $11.95 with fish, and $13.95 with assorted seafood) with a choice of chicken, beef or pork as an ideal selection for those with a gluten-free diet. The tasty dish is infused with basil, garlic and Thai seasonings that permeate each savory morsel.
Those who enjoy a vegan diet are encouraged to try Basil Stir Fry with Tofu ($9.95), as the meatless dish is packed with flavor created by Thai spices, which create an alluring aroma.
For those interested in learning some of Thirakoun’s tricks of the trade, the restaurateur offers cooking classes for groups of 10 students at a time. The three-hour classes start at $45 per person, and those interested are encouraged to call Thai Valley Cuisine at 395-9746 for more details, or to register.
Thirakoun also sells her freshly-made curry pastes for $4 per order so customers may prepare their favorite Thai cuisine at home. The paste is available in one’s desired color and heat preference for those looking to take at-home dining to a new level.
Thai Valley Cuisine
Kalama Village Center
501 Kealahou St., Honolulu
Lunch: Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Dinner: Daily, 4-9 p.m.