A taste of Thai

  • Dennis Fujimoto / TGIFR!DAY

    Thai iced tea from S E A Kauai even looks refreshing.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / TGIFR!DAY

    Red curry chicken from S E A Kauai is a hearty meal.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / TGIFR!DAY

    Shrimp pad thai from S E A Kauai is as filling as it looks.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / TGIFR!DAY

    The destiny roll from S E A Kauai is easily enough to share.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / TGIFR!DAY

    Arisara Khamsuk, owner of South East Asia Kauai, center, is flanked by Belle Meephol, left, and Paulina “Annie” Ku and the Thai symbolic icons of good luck, the elephant and ship, in the restaurant’s sushi bar.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / TGIFR!DAY

    Vegetable egg rolls are all lined up and ready to dip at S E A Kauai.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / TGIFR!DAY

    Hot ‘n cheese at S E A Kauai is a spicy dish.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / TGIFR!DAY

    The sign for South East Asia Kauai incorporates the five elements and colors of success — water, fire, wood, earth and metal, and blue, green, brown, red and orange — from Thai culture.

Most people make the mistake of ordering just one, said Arisara Khamsuk, owner of South East Asia Kauai, located on the second level of Harbor Mall shopping center.

She was referring to hot ‘n cheese, one of the appetizer offerings from the restaurant that opened its doors about two weeks ago behind the Lilikoi Bar and Grill.

“They eat, and they order more,” Khamsuk said. “It’s really good. I know how to cook from when I was a little girl, and this passion made me open this restaurant. I used to go to other places, and after tasting, I could tell what they are using. My friends all told me to open.”

With a mission of providing healthy and delicious food in paradise, S E A (South East Asia Cuisine) Kauai offers breakfast from 9 to 11 a.m. Thursdays through Sundays, daily lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., a sushi bar, and dinner service until its 10 p.m. closing.

The liquor license is pending. Once acquired, S E A Kauai hopes to have a bar to accompany its sushi bar.

Food is steeped in Thai culture that overflows into the decor of the eatery that is freshened by the constant tradewinds blowing in from the nearby ocean, and from its second-floor vantage point diners enjoy a variety of wide-open spaces.

In addition to the menu which leans heavily toward Thai food, using beef, chicken, fish, pork, fruits and vegetables, Khamsuk offers a taste of Thai culture as the colors in the restaurant’s sign borrow from the symbolic elements — water, fire, wood, earth and metal — representing success in Thailand.

The decor overflows to include other Thai icons of success, including the elephant that stands guard at one end of the sushi bar and anchored by a ship sailing in from the lanai dining area.

“We have a lot of people who like the outdoor dining,” Khamsuk said. “When we get the liquor license, even more people come. The area behind the cashier has pictures of waterfalls that represent money flowing into the cash register, and there is a peacock that watch the people come in.”

Khamsuk said the restaurant plans a grand opening Oct. 29 when diners can get a discount on orders, and free sampling from 2 p.m. For those who reserve tables on that date, S E A Kauai will offer free baby egg rolls.

“This is not like the egg roll on the menu,” Khamsuk said. “This is baby egg roll. People really like it — they ask me to bottle it so they can take it with them. No, they need to come.”

Information: 635-9917

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Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.

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