Make it Thai

Columns What's Cooking?

March 15, 2015

Story By: Rachel Breit | Photos by: Rachel Breit

There are new flavors to sample at Chao Phya Thai in Kaneohe’s Windward City Shopping Center. The longstanding Thai eatery has welcomed executive chef Guy Smith, who’s bringing in innovative ideas with a commitment to providing diners with cuisine that’s fresh, new and exciting — all while pushing the boundaries of Thai gastronome.

To ensure freshness, Smith scours the Islands for local ingredients. “I literally drive around all day getting fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, seafood and all that,” he says. Tomatoes come from the North Shore, herbs are sourced from local Thai farmers and grass-fed beef is flown in from Parker Ranch on the Big Island, just to name a few.

Exclusivity also is a big deal to Smith. It means he can dole out new and unique dishes for his guests to try. Take for example, Thai Basil Lychee Sorbet ($6.95). “No one else has this,” he boasts about the dessert, which he worked with a local manufacturer to come up with. It involves an entire crate of the Thai herb. “Thai basil is sweeter. It has a different aromatic characteristic to it. You can definitely tell the difference,” he explains. “It’s super, like, really good!”

Excitement is a given with this chef. It pours over into everything he does. Smith believes that dining is all about creating an experience, so he often surprises guests with new tidbits to try such as grilled Kauai-coffee laced tomatoes served over purple sweet potato mousse. “Last night I had a French glacage on top of a baked oyster with bamboo rice,” he says. His thoughtful plating and attention to detail — like sauce painting — also means diners come away with memories.

Some examples of the eatery’s unique offerings include, Basil Fish Cakes ($8.95) served with cucumber sweet chili sauce; Thai Red Curry Fish ($9.95), which features island fish steamed in banana leaf with Kona turmeric, ginger and Thai coconut milk; White Miso Oxtail ($18.95) with a rich broth infused with miso, Hamakua mushrooms and sweet North Shore tomatoes; and Honey Beef ($11.50), slices of honey-marinated tri-tip on a bed of lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes.

“I collaborate with Chef Tui, who is the Thai chef here. And a lot of times I will come up with some things, and I will go to him and say, ‘Now, make it Thai.’ I think that the collaboration between the two of us really is proving to be interesting,” Smith says.

Chao Phya Thai

45-480 Kaneohe Bay Drive, Kaneohe
Daily, 11 a.m.–9 p.m.

45-480 Kaneohe Bay Drive, Kaneohe, HI 96744

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Hawaii's Best