Songkran Thai Kitchen Opens in Uptown Park

SongkranAngel.jpg
Photo by Mai Pham
The Songkran Angel mural greets you when you step food inside the new Songkran Thai Kitchen in Uptown Park.

As a college student at UCLA, Thai food was easy to come by. Aside from pizza, it was one of the easiest foods to get delivered, and I didn't realize at the time how spoiled I'd become by its easy availability until I moved to Houston.

While we definitely have excellent choices for ethnic food, I'm just going to say it: Our Thai food presence is pretty weak. Just a handful of places come to mind when I want true, authentic Thai eats -- Vieng Thai on Longpoint, Asia Market on Cavalcade, Thai Gourmet on Richmond and Tony Thai on Bellaire -- and while these are all places where I can get my Thai fix, it's a destination thing for me. I have to make it a point to go there instead of just dropping by. Perhaps this explains my almost overwhelming excitement when I heard about the opening of chef Junnajet Hurapan's Songkran Thai Kitchen in Uptown Park.

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Photo by Mai Pham
Chef Junnajet "Jett" Hurapan at his new Songkran Thai Kitchen.

Hurapan, whom I profiled when he opened Blu in Sugar Land (read my chef chat with him, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3), has been hankering to do Thai food. A Thai guy through and through, he knows the flavors of his homeland like the back of his hand. But until now, he hasn't been able to do anything that's exclusively Thai. During his stint at Gigi's Dumpling House in the Galleria, he was doing Cantonese food. At Blu in Sugar Land, the menu was billed as "Euro Asian," which spanned other genres like Indian and Chinese. Songkran, which he is opening in partnership with the owners at Blu, is going to be his Thai baby.

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Photo by Mai Pham
A hand painted buddha mural acts as the backdrop for the dining room.

The spruced up new space, which took over the former Tapas 1252 space in between Etoile Cuisine and Cafe Express in Uptown Park, is sultry and exotic, with striking, hand painted wall murals by a local artist. To the right of the entryway, just as you walk in, a benevolent Songkran Angel greets you. On the far back wall, a large Buddha image provides the backdrop for the entire restaurant, which is anchored by the a long, attractive bar space -- the perfect spot for a drink and snack if you're a solo diner. The location is convenient and also boasts one of the best patios in the city.

The menu reads like an ode to my deepest Thai cravings, with all the names of the Thai dishes, next to descriptions of what they are. My favorites were all there, dishes like like Pad Thai, Tom Yum Goong (a spicy sweet and sour lemongrass soup with shrimp), Gai Yang (Thai bbq chicken), and Pad-ped Pla (Bangkok fish filet with rhizome and lime). Hoy Tod (Crispy mussel pancake with bean sprouts and sriracha) is a dish I haven't seen or tasted since I tasted it on the streets of Bangkok approximately 10 years ago.

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Photo by Mai Pham
"Khai Luk Koei." Son-in-law eggs. One of chef Jett's favorite new dishes on the Songkran menu.

Asked which were his favorite dishes, chef Jett (short for Junnajet) says it was hard to choose, but here's what he likes the most: Khai Luk Koei (double cooked egg with tamarind sauce and crispy shallots); Yum Ka Moy (Royal chili lime chicken salad); and Nuer Siam (braised wagyu beef with Thai herb dipping sauce).

For someone who loves food, and who counts Thai food among her favorites, he didn't have to say anymore. I'm drooling just thinking about it.

Songkran Thai Kitchen opened to the public on Monday April 28, serving lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.


Location Info

Songkran Thai Kitchen

1101-08 Uptown Park Blvd., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Vieng Thai

6929 Long Point Rd., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Tony's Thai & Sushi Restaurant

10613 Bellaire Blvd. # A101 Houston, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Thai Gourmet

6324 Richmond Ave., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

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8 comments
jodie.eisenhardt
jodie.eisenhardt

Love the idea of authentic Thai AND nice atmosphere ... dream come true! Can't wait to go ... thanks so much, Mai!

ekhilton
ekhilton

Any idea if they'll be open on Sundays?  I seem to always have my biggest thai craving on Sundays and many are closed for religious observance.

Lancaster
Lancaster

Sounds good, but if you're not inclined to spend astronomically for Galleria overhead and a somewhat overwrought ego, try a couple more places that serve real Thai, but are missing from your short list:


**Fu Lu Su in Missouri City...where a lot of Thai and Thai restaurant owners converge to eat.


**V's Thai...at Dairy Ashford / Westheimer, where the bar scene is made wonderful by an extremely good (and adventurous) Thai kitchen

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

@ekhilton They are open daily! It's a soft opening right now, and great news! While they are waiting for their TABC license, They are pouring free beer and wine with your meal. :) Bon appétit.

Estes
Estes

@Lancaster  

Kanomwan is the other great Houston Thai place she has yet to discover. I like all these low key places versus a Galleria see and be seen type palace

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

@Lancaster Thanks for the tips!! Will check them out! What are good dishes at these places?

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

If you knew me at all, you would know that I'm all about low-key Asian places, but when a place is good, it's good. 


Chef Jett is legit. He's one of the nicest chefs I've ever met (no ego at all). And, it's not a see an be seen place like in River Oaks. The food happens to be authentic and delicious, and way better than anything else that doesn't require a drive. The nice ambience is a plus, and I don't mind paying for it.

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

@Estes @Lancaster  Kanomwan -- I heard about it, but didn't make it before the owner died. Is it still good?


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