New restaurant, same flavor

Family members of the Original A Taste of Thai open new location in Springdale

Posted: August 22, 2014 at 6 a.m.

After 14 years of operating the family-run Original A Taste of Thai in Fayetteville, one division of the Sihapanya family has ventured to open a new location in Springdale.

Husband and wife Kimo and Maryann, along with their daughter Kimberly, are excited to expand A Taste of Thai's reputation, consistent recipes and experienced staff to a new area in Northwest Arkansas.

Customers of the new Thai Taste restaurant in Springdale may recognize the staff from the Original A Taste of Thai in Fayetteville. The family that initially opened the respected Thai restaurant in 2000 has ventured into the busy commercial strip on Thompson Street in Springdale.

Kimo and Maryann Sihapanya own the new restaurant, along with their daughter, Kimberly (left). Kimberly’s cousin, May (right), joined the family on their new endeavor, while Kimo’s sister, Sandy, remains at the helm in Fayetteville.

LOCATION: 1200 S. Thompson Street, Springdale

PHONE: (479) 717-2999

WEBSITE: facebook.com/ThaiTasteSpringdale

NICE TO KNOW: 11 a.m.-3 p.m., 5-9 p.m. Mon-Sat. Thai Taste is a new restaurant that delivers authentic Thai cuisine with fresh ingredients and bold flavors. The dining room offers a comfortable, modern atmosphere with a welcoming and friendly staff. The large menu includes classic Thai dishes and many house specialties.

The new restaurant, named Thai Taste, creates the familiar recipes that have built a loyal following at the sister location in Fayetteville. The menu in Springdale also adds a few more choices.

New menu items include Thai Jambalaya, green mango salad (seasonally), Thai hot wings, Thai noodle soup, Surf & Turf, and flambe banana with Jamaican rum and coconut ice cream.

"We did branch off from A Taste of Thai -- we still have the same taste, great atmosphere and service," co-owner and manager Kimberly Sihapanya said.

Open July 29, the dining room at Thai Taste has a simple and modern ambiance. The restaurant can accommodate 49 people and groups up to 12 people. The restaurant is available for private parties of larger groups.

Surrounded by Motel 8, Thai Taste is set on the west side of Thompson Street, just south of Sunset Avenue. Hours of operation are 11 a.m.-3 p.m. for lunch and 5-9 p.m. for dinner. The restaurant is closed Sundays.

Kimberly Sihapanya operates the front of the house and her mother, Maryann Sihapanya, is head chef.

"The kitchen staff has a lot of experience. My mom is super quick," Kimberly said.

The lunch menu offers a selection of quickly prepared, less-expensive entrees. Chicken, beef, pork and vegetable dishes are priced at $8.50. Shrimp entrees are $9.25, and the shrimp-and-scallop combination dishes are $10.95.

Curry and chilies are frequently used in Thai dishes, therefore one may believe that it is heavily flavored and spicy. At Thai Taste, the food is prepared and seasoned to order, allowing each customer to have the dish made to preference.

For example, dishes made at the one-star level of seasoning allow the natural seasoning in the food to permeate. For two stars, the addition of dry spices adds a little more heat.

"As you get spicier, like Thai hot -- or double or triple Thai hot -- they add chili oil, dried spices, fresh chilies ... they bring it," Kimberly said.

The servers often have to hold the plate away from their face when delivering the most spicy dishes, because the steam rising from the dish can burn their eyes and nose.

"We take our spices seriously -- three stars has a good spiciness. The top level, some people can't handle," Kimberly said.

The combination of many other seasonings and spices adds depth to the flavor profile. Thai basil, lemongrass, cilantro, kaffir lime leaves, ginger, garlic and mint are used regularly.

For curries, Thai Taste serves yellow, red, green, Pa-nang and Mas-Samun.

Kimberly's favorite dish is the Pa-nang curry, which features a sweet, peanut butter flavor that is blended with coconut milk.

"Whenever I recommend it to one of my customers, they say I did not steer them wrong," she said.

The Fresh Thai Summer Rolls are cousin May's favorite, especially served with the peanut sauce in place of the sweet and sour sauce.

Other specialties include the slightly spicy Thai hot wings.

"It's like a sweet heat," Kimberly said.

The Surf & Turf has grilled flap steak and marinated shrimp with pineapple, spicy Thai herbs and saffron. It is served on top of zucchini, snow peas and mushrooms.

A perfect complement to the spicy dishes is a Thai Lime Ice Tea or Thai Iced Coffee.

Desserts include homemade coconut ice cream that can be dished a la carte or paired with sticky rice. The coconut ice cream is also served with the flambe banana, which is sauteed bananas caramelized with brown sugar and rum.

More information and the full menu are available at facebook.com/ThaiTasteSpringdale.

NAN Dining Guide Cover on 08/22/2014

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