Dine Out: Thai in Kannapolis
Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 12, 2011
By Robin Perry
For the Salisbury Post
KANNAPOLIS — Son and Phong are back in business. For those of you who remember the Royal Thai Steakhouse in Kannapolis, that is good news. For those who don’t remember, their new eatery, Am’s Thai-Tokyo is open at 1403 N. Cannon Blvd, serving up authentic Thai and Japanese dishes that will please the Thai food lover and win over the novice who hasn’t tried it yet.
Sykesone “Son” and Somphong “Phong” Chamnangam, along with family members, are back in the restaurant business and happy to be there. Originally from Laos, Son met her future husband, Phong, at a refugee camp where he was a cook. Their country was at war then and they were both teenagers. For the next eight years or so, Phong traveled to Egypt and Bangkok, working in restaurants and hotels. Son came with her parents to the United States and settled in Salisbury. Phong joined them and they were married. Both have worked hard to support the family. And they have been very grateful for the opportunity to live in the United States. They enjoy giving back to the community, and Son does not know a stranger. She truly enjoys talking and working with the customer. She makes them feel welcome immediately
Thai food has a flavor all its own, and many mistakenly think that it is spicy. It is not spicy, though hot and spicy sauces/herbs can be added. They use different ingredients that make the flavors distinct, such as lemongrass, coconut, ginger, kaffir lime leaves and sweet basil leaves. In the summer, Son’s mother grows many of these herbs in her garden for them to use.
The menu offers a wide selection of Thai food and some Japanese, “for those who might be afraid to try Thai food,” Son says with a smile.
We tried samples of fried spring rolls with the house sauce, shrimp tempura, Pha Nang Beef, a curry dish, Pad Gra Pow and Pad Thai, one of their most popular dishes with stir-fried rice, noodles with eggs, onions, bean sprouts and Thai spicy sauce. All had their own flavor and texture. I liked the Pha Nang beef, and I do not like spicy foods. The combination of coconut gravy with ground roasted peanuts, bamboo strips, kaffir lime leaves, sweet basil and chili paste blended to just pop in your mouth with great taste.
Unique dishes in addition to those on the menu can also be ordered, and they plan to have weekly specials such as red snapper and lobster tail. When we visited, they were preparing Thai lobster and steak for a birthday party. Customers can call ahead and order such delicacies for one or two, or a whole group.
The prices run from Thai entrees at $5.99 each, with chicken, beef, pork or vegetable to $7.99 with shrimp or seafood. Entrees include those mentioned above and others such as sesame chicken, beef with oyster sauce and red or green curry. Pho, their noodle soups, are also delicious and the beef meat ball runs $6.99 and $8.99 for the seafood bowl. This unique soup is served in very large bowls. At lunch, they offer a soup of the day.
For the Japanese food lover, tasty Hibachi steak, pork, chicken, shrimp or scallops and teriyaki chicken, pork, and steak can be ordered. Prices range from $4.99 to $6.99 and include fried rice, sweet carrots, shrimp sauce and a choice of vegetables. Chef specialties include combination plates, such as chicken and jumbo shrimp for $10.99 with all the sides.
For dessert, we had a traditional rice custard — which tasted terrific — and was interesting to see. The rice was purple in color and cooked with coconut and an egg custard on top. The flavors again were so different, but so good.
Am’s Thai Tokyo opened in November in what used to be Don’s ’50s grill. Son and Phong and family members remodeled the interior and fresh flowers are on every table, adding to the bright, cheery atmosphere. They are making this a family affair, with Son’s sister, Am, and brother, Don, helping out. In addition to their new eatery, Son still maintains her job at the Mayflower Restaurant and Phong works in Troutman for ESC. I don’t know when they take time to sleep!
In the future, they are hoping to serve beer and wine and also are thinking about adding a sushi bar.
They are open Sunday-Thursday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday –Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Takeout is available by calling 704-933-0022; and they welcome private parties.