By Vanessa Wolf
Any foodie who has ever driven to Hana specifically for Thai food is about to see a significant drop in his or her fuel expenses.
On Oct. 1, Chit Tharnthong and Oey Meesook – husband and wife restaurateurs – will be opening Maui Thai Bistro in the space previously occupied by Maui Thai Restaurant.
The new venture will feature Chef Prakong Tongsod.
Tongsod was previously one half of the successful “Thai by Prakong/Thai by Pranee” enterprise across from the Hana Ball Park on Uakea Road.
Although Pranee can still be found in that spot, Tongsod will now be dishing up her flavorful creations to south side diners.
Tongsod came to the US as a diplomatic chef in 1999. She ran her own catering business in Washington, DC where she met Tharnthong and Meesook, eventually joining them in Maui.
When asked what will make Maui Thai Bistro different from other offerings on the island, Tharnthong replied, “On Maui, Thai restaurants have been run, for most part, by Laotians. This is not unlike Croatians running Italian restaurants.
“Our venture is about authenticity. We are Thai, but we are also serious food people with a deep appreciation for the roots of modern cuisine.”
The restaurant will focus on local and seasonal products. Currently, they plan to change the menu monthly, with at least 20% of the items being regularly replaced.
This is in part due to seasonality, but also due to Tongsod’s exceptionally large repertoire.
Lunch offerings will be priced from $11 to $16 and feature such items as Shiitake Spring Rolls; Drunken Noodles; Pad Thai and Khao Mun Gai, the Thai version of the famous Hainanese chicken dish.
Also planned are Guaytiao Nuasub, a northern Thai rice noodle dish; Thai Railway Fried Rice, akin to a Thai loco-moco; Satay with Prakong’s homemade sauce and Green Papaya Somtum.
Co-owner Tharntong commented, “I have 60 years of experience in eating pad thai, and in all that time had truly excellent pad thai made by two chefs: Prakong is one of them, and I later learned the other chef ‘cheats’ by using lard!”
The dinner menu will be priced from $14 to $19 and will feature Moi Manao, moi in a Tahitian lime sauce; Shrimp Panang Curry made with Macadamia Nuts; Masaman Curry with Short Ribs; Ahi Tartare Larb; Southern Thai Oxtail Soup; Thai Shrimp Toast; Tofu in homemade Green Curry; Tom Yum Fried Rice; Pineapple Kua Curry, and Roast Duck Curry.
Maui Thai Bistro is currently undergoing a significant facelift and the owners report that “when it is done it should have a distinctly contemporary look, without the kitsch that one associates with so many Thai restaurants in the US.”
Planned hours of operation are Monday to Friday from 11 to 2:30 p.m. and evenings Monday through Sunday from 5 to 9:30 p.m.