Sometimes those little voices in my head offer good advice. I don’t know why but while driving to Florida this past fall I bypassed my usual haunts in Montgomery and Ozark, and decided to look for dinner in Dothan. I guess the voices convinced me I needed to try something new. That is, in part, my job as a writer, after all.
Sure enough on the north side of town, I spotted what was then the brand new Thai House. It was late, rainy, and the parking lot was mostly empty, but a sign on the door flashed open and the smell of curry and lemongrass lured me the rest of the way as I got out of the car.
Summer and Nalart Siriphatra
The way I ran to the table must have telegraphed my hunger, since my server brought me my soup almost as soon as I sat down — I had ordered the Thai spicy and sour shrimp soup. The lemongrass and lime leaves melded with the spice to fend off the chill and bring on what my wife refers to as a “food buzz.”
The couple a few tables over had ordered a tilapia dish as well as a panang curry. Both smelled heavenly, making the decision of what to order all the more difficult. But after several false starts, I finally ordered the green curry. The menu showed it had three stars, meaning very spicy. To put that in terms most of us can understand, it was nose-runny hot but not so spicy as to induce brow sweating. Perfect for me. The chicken in the dish was tender, while the bamboo and red and green peppers fresh.
Dream Come True
After I dinner, I introduced myself to the owners, Summer and Nalart Siriphatra. Come to find out, theirs is a story of love, food, and being far from home. Nalart had come to the states from Bangkok to oversee a chicken operation in Baker Hill, AL, where he met Summer in 1999 and subsequently fell in love with the Abbeville native. Nalart had wanted to open a Thai restaurant, so the couple chose Dothan, in part due to the relatively sizeable population and tourist traffic going to and from the beach.
“This is as close as possible to what I ate growing up,” says Nalart. “The locals here might not like strict Thai spice, but I want to make sure it’s authentic and delicious. This is a dream to have my own restaurant serving the food of my old country in my new country.”
4177 Montgomery Highway, Suite 10
Dothan, AL 36303
P.S. Southern Living Online Editor Claire Machamer, who’s from Dothan, says Kyoto Sushi Japanese Restaurant, located just a few doors down from Thai House, offers some of the best sushi she’s ever had. Check them out at 4177 Montgomery Highway, Suite 2; 334-699-1078.