3801 SE Belmont St.
Open 7 days 11 am – 9:30 pm
The recently renamed ImJai Thai restaurant at the corner of 38th and SE Belmont now has new owners. The restaurant is a collaborative family effort and the first one they have all operated on their own. Many years of cooking, waiting tables and management courses have prepared the family to take on the task and do it well.
The Southeast Examiner spoke with Pearl, the daughter of Head Chef Jai Buapoen. Jai’s sister and her husband, Nan and Mk Vorapanich are the owners/chefs and Paul and Thorn are respectively the server and dishwasher. They are delighted to share their delicious recipes with the community.
“We’ve added more street food and bakery items to the menu. Our special sauces and preparation of Thai food, honor both traditional and original ways of cooking,” Pearl said. Jai has always loved to cook and started experimenting when she was six years old. She returns to Thailand regularly to learn new ways to prepare food and especially to get the latest dessert recipes, one of the restaurant’s unique offerings.
They use real crab in their crab fried rice and seafood dishes. A signature favorite is the Pad Curry Seafood medley, a combination of seafood, stir-fried with eggs, onions, bell peppers, celery, green onion in a curry sauce.
For vegetarians the EPT–eggplant, pumpkin and tofu stir fry with shitake mushrooms, basil leaves, bell peppers in garlic sauce has people returning for more. The Yen Ta Fo or pink noodles, is a Thai street food specialty that includes, fish-balls, shrimp, squid, fried tofu, fried wonton, white fungus mushroom and Chinese broccoli.
Lunch specials are served with soup or salad, jasmine or brown rice and made gluten-free or vegan upon request. The Pad See Ew was a satisfying change for the non-experimental diner from traditional Pad Thai. It comes with thick noodles, different vegetables, eggs and a sweet soy sauce. Special consideration is given to various curries they have to offer using old-time recipes honed to perfection from Nan and Jai’s family.
The day we visited, they served Kao Mun Gai, rice cooked in fresh ginger, poached chicken and a homemade sauce containing fermented soybeans, lime, garlic and ginger served over rice.
“If you come to the restaurant and want a repeat of a special, we can make it for you,” Pearl said.
Customers are particularly excited about their Thai dessert (Kanom Waan) menu with specialties like: Kanom Tuay, a blend between a bottom layer of sweetness topped with salted coconut cream; rice flour dumpling filled with black sesame paste with sweet ginger soup and Khanom Bua Loi, glutinous rice dumplings in sweet coconut cream served hot with or without egg or but a few of the choices.
See the menu at imjaithai.com