Monday, November 21, 2011
Thai on Main: A Feast for Your Eyes and Your Taste buds!
Written by Paulette Le Pore Motzko
I will set the scene with a beautiful walk down Main St. in Seal Beach. As soon as I walked through the door I loved the simple and elegant décor, the friendly smiles on all the waiter’s and waitress’ faces, and I felt immediately welcome. Walk around the corner of Bolsa and Pacific Coast highway and walk towards the Seal Beach pier on your right hand side is a fantastic Thai Restaurant named Thai on Main. This outstanding Thai Restaurant features quality ingredients prepared lovingly with attention to age old Thai recipes. With a beautiful view of quaint and charming Main St., Seal Beach, you can see the passer’s by as you eat your spring rolls and savor the lunch special of the day.
When I came in with my friend, I loved the very simple but elegant décor and the friendly way I was greeted by all the staff. I was glad I walked through the door from the beginning.
My first meal was their Chicken Sate with Chinese Broccoli, which I had never seen before or tasted, and it was wonderful. Reminiscent of broccoli and a little like spinach it was gently steamed, served alongside some whole grain rice.
The owners Pascal and Paul, who are high school buddies, got the idea to create a wonderful Thai restaurant where they could all bring to the table, so to speak, the best representation of Thai cooking. Some of the dishes are from authentic recipes of Pascal’s mother Colette and Paul’s family as well.
3 years ago Paul & Pascal opened Thai on Main and wanted it to be a friendly neighborhood restaurant where people could get good quality food at a reasonable price.
When I came in to take the pictures that would appear on the Feature Story and Pictorial, they prepared several dishes for me to sample and photograph. Some of the dishes were Shrimp Salad with cucumber, tomatoes, cilantro, and grilled jumbo prawns. This is a very elegant and beautiful salad prepared with tender loving care and such attention to detail. There must be at least a dozen butter flied jumbo shrimp on the large rectangular platter with purple onion and julienne carrots. You could serve this along with this flavorful soup for an elegant but light lunch. I don’t know the recipe for the salad dressing but I did guess that it had rice vinegar in it and it is mild and the salad makes a very show-stopping presentation. This dish would be perfect for a banquet or other special occasion.
The Crying Tiger is composed of grilled sirloin steak and a homemade Chili sauce that is will wake up your sinuses! The steak was tender and very pleasant but this is a dish for those who love hot things, hence the name “Crying Tiger.” You could eat the grilled sirloin without the homemade hot sauce, if you don’t want your tongue to be on fire!
The Tom Ka Gai soup is slightly sweet flavored with the richness of coconut milk and the lemon grass in the dish is very pleasant but not overpowering. I had the honor of meeting and conversing with Chef Kritchon Neuangchomphu who is one of the chefs trained to make appetizers. The fresh spring rolls are the most beautiful ones I have ever seen and the flavors are clean and fresh.
Chef Monh is the Lead Chef along with one chef dedicated to each type of cuisine: appetizers, stir fries & curries and main courses explain why every dish is prepared exactly the same each time. That explains why every appetizer of soup and spring rolls look so perfect because the same chef makes only appetizers and nothing else!
Presentation: Paul Chaiyakham
Recipe Development/Creation: Chef Monh Osothsy-Thai-Laos
Head Chef-Monh-who knows Thai food and the food of Laos. Chef Monh then brought in her team of fellow talented chefs who overseeing the other sous-chefs. She was recommended to us through friends.
It takes four chefs specializing in each one of these stations to transform fresh ingredients into the beautiful dishes they serve:
“I try to make it as authentic as possible. All the ingredients are fresh and authentic to Thailand.” Paul told me one evening.
Paul’s Pick of Unique dishes: Lemon Grass Sea bass, Phuket (Pooket) Seafood Pasta-It is a twist on Italian Thai Fusion-with Thai basil and assortment of seafood.
For the Tom Ka Gai the chef uses some chili paste in soybean oil and it gives the soup an orange color and delicate flavor.
What Paul Chaiyakham loves most about his job-Having people get to know Thai Food through my eyes and tastes.
Paul’s Philosophy on Cooking Thai Food-Keep it simple, use original ingredients. “What made Thai food popular in Hollywood 40 or 50 years ago, was that they made Thai food from Thailand. Nowadays a lot of people customize their dish. We will accommodate them but I always urge people to try the dish the way it was made for 100 years ago.”
How did you get the idea for the Thai on Main?
Pascal has a degree in International business and his parents owned a restaurant in France. I wanted it to be a neighborhood restaurant-where people can grab a glass of wine, full meal, snack, or just stay and visit while you have a good meal. The concept fit in real well with the locals.
“Now it has become a local favorite. Our main clients are the locals.”
Pascal told me: “Our philosophy is to keep it simple and keep it approachable. The restaurant is a reflection of us.”
“I had a restaurant in Redondo Beach and Paul was helping out. I have two kids and the restaurant biz is very time-consuming. The experience of watching my parents make a restaurant thrive is what I think has helped me the most.”
What are some of your favorite personal dishes?
The Salted Plum and Salmon was Pascal’s mom Colette’s personal recipe: Flavors of green onion, ginger and chunks of salmon. Another dish is that Pascal loves that you will have to sample is the Drunken Noodles. Pascal described it as: “So refreshing, stir fried with basil/ and a light soy sauce.”
Another favorite of Pascal is the Crying Tiger-BBQ Sirloin.
What one thing do you want them to remember?
The warmth of enjoying a good meal. I want everybody to feel welcome.
Pascal: “The menu is a good combination of my recipes, Paul’s recipes and the chef’s recipe’s. We all tried everybody’s dish voted for the best one.”
Stations: Soups & Curries, Stir Fry, Appetizers
Pascal and Paul, who began as high school buddies, had a dream to create a Thai restaurant that serves incredible food and where people can truly enjoy themselves. It goes to show that dreams really can come true!