When a restaurant succumbs to a fire, no one knows for certain if the business can resurrect and rebound.
In the case of My Thai, formerly at 800 N. Charles St. in Mount Vernon, which burned down in 2010, Brad Wales and his wife Pui had planned to re-open at their original location in 2011, but that comeback was not meant to be.
When Wales’ attorney told him the space at 1300 Bank St., formerly occupied by Lemongrass, was available, he decided to take a look.
Bank St. off of Central Ave. is a departure from the Mount Vernon historic district and cultural corridor, but the 4,700-square-foot space and the city parking lot half a block away were more than enticing, Wales says.
It didn’t take him long to realize his restaurant had found a second home— with twice the space and decent parking. My Thai re-opened on January 16.
“Here on Bank St. I can do all of the things I couldn’t on Charles St.,” Wales says.
Take for instance charbroil grill bar featuring Thai street food: the centerpiece of the new restaurant.
“Street food is an essential part of Thai food culture,” Wales says. “It’s what I think of when I think of Thailand—food carts, food vendors, everywhere in the streets, even on the highways.”
Wale’s son, Jirat Suphrom-In, My Thai’s assistant manager and cook, grew up in Thailand. He estimates that there are 30,000 street food vendors and food carts in the Bangkok area alone.
The Grill Bar, which seats about 10, opens daily at 5 p.m.
“Customers like the idea of an open kitchen,” says Wales. “They want to see their food being cooked. They want to watch what happens.”
The menu, which changes every day, includes familiar hot, sour, salty, sweet Thai flavor combinations. The standards—Thai basil mussels, lemongrass beef—are there, along with surprises such as house-made Thai pork sausage. There are some very exotic Thai specialties—battered frogs’ legs, pork brains, and silkworms.
Suphrom-In says his favorite Thai street food is the noodle bowl, a version of which is on the Grill Bar menu with roasted duck, Chinese broccoli, crispy shallots, rice noodles, and duck broth.
Wales, however, favors the flash-fried chicken livers- with baby bok choy, oyster sauce, and sweet pickled soybeans.
“When my dad made [American style] chicken livers when I was a kid, I would cringe,” Wales acknowledges, “but these these… these are wonderful.”
My Thai’s general menu covers the full spectrum of Thai standards like minced shrimp cakes and tom ka gai—(chicken coconut-milk) soup, curries, noodles, vegetarian options, and truly spicy choices such as spicy eggplant for those who favor real heat.
The restaurant’s 40-foot-long modern bar headlines Thai-inspired cocktails and features mango, chili, ginger-infused saki and Sing-ha on draft, in addition to a full selection of liquor and wine.
Wales says that many of his Mount Vernon customers are coming to Little Italy-Harbor East to check out the new My Thai.
“I’m happy to be bringing Thai street food to Baltimore. We’re so much more visible here,” he says. “Bank St. is the perfect location for what we’re doing.”
by Danielle Sweeney