Coconut Thai recently opened in the space formerly occupied by Rice Paper at 50th and France. Owner Pallop Ratnasingha describes the food as traditional Thai with homemade recipes straight from his mother’s kitchen. Ratnasingha credits his mother for teaching him most of what he knows about cooking. Now 75 years old and retired, Ratnasingha’s mother frequently stops into the restaurant to check out the recipes and to keep an eye on everything. “I’m pretty confident of my mom’s recipes and ingredients,” says Ratnasingha. “She has cooked all her life and everywhere.”
Although Coconut Thai has been open only a short time, there are already a few stand-out dishes, such as the stir-fry basil and many of the curries. The garlic and black pepper stir-fry is also a popular dish and includes lettuce, cucumber, tomato, garlic and red pepper. Customers can add their choice of protein from selections of shrimp, calamari, chicken, pork, beef, tofu or mock duck. Then there is the pad Thai flavored with fresh tamarind, a tangy fruit pulp that is often used in a variety of Asian cuisines. According to Ratnasingha, his pad Thai is made just as it would be in Thailand.
Ratnasingha describes his restaurant as casual, cozy, comfortable and a place where people can have a good conversation over an authentic Thai meal. “We treat people as family,” says Ratnasingha.