Running two successful Thai Cabin food carts downtown and at venues like the South of the James Market kept Michael and Dana Ng busy enough since opening the first cart in 2000, but with the recent addition of a full-service restaurant called Thai Corner in Jackson Ward, the couple (who have twin toddlers) has redefined multitasking.
A native of Hong Kong, Michael grew up in New York City, where his family ran a Chinese restaurant. The Thai influence comes from Dana, a native of Thailand whose family operated a Thai restaurant in Fayetteville, N.C. While the Thai Cabin carts sell a variety of popular Asian dishes, at Thai Corner, Dana and her mother run the kitchen. The emphasis is on authentic home-style Thai food. Delivery, via a local bike company, is available during operating hours, and there is no minimum.
A family atmosphere pervades at the restaurant: Michael often takes the orders, while Dana cooks the food. Lettuce wraps are a delicious deal at $6. (A tofu wrap is shown below.) Small chunks of chicken, water chestnuts for crunch, carrots and a generous amount of chopped peanuts are enveloped in a sweet and tangy sauce tinged with hoisin and served with Romaine lettuce.
The main menu includes standards such as pad thai, drunken noodles and three versions of curry, along with about a dozen other choices. Be prepared for a serious step up in spiciness from mild to medium. Mild green curry helped emphasize my choice of shrimp, which were tender and not overcooked. Medium cleared my sinuses and added oomph to a version with tofu, bamboo shoots, peas, carrots, kaffir lime leaves and basil served over jasmine rice. The Thai Beef Salad, a colorful mélange of grilled beef finished with lime juice and red onions, tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce, makes for an especially healthy lunch option. Michael claims he decided to marry his wife after she made him that dish.
327 N. Second St., 343-2009
Prices: All menu items are between $6 and $10.
Hours: 11:15 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday to Friday.