Family ties lead to Thai Express @ Sahara

Glenn Birk is a self-described meat-and-potatoes guy from Indiana. So what’s he doing as owner of Thai Express @ Sahara?

Chalk that culinary incongruity up to his wife, Viphar, and mother-in-law, Radeem Ramsay.

“I married a lady, and her mother … she wanted to do a restaurant,” Birk explains.

So from such straightforward beginnings comes Thai Express @ Sahara, which opened about a year ago at 4105 W. Sahara Ave. Chef Ramsay originally is from northeastern Thailand and brings to the restaurant’s menu a roster of authentic Thai recipes.

“We’re trying to stay as close to authentic Thai food as we can,” Birk explains.

What’s the appeal of Thai cuisine? It’s more healthful than many cuisines, Birk says, and there’s “nothing bland about it.”

However, while Thai cuisine is built upon a foundation of ginger and other assertive spices, Birk says Thai dishes aren’t necessarily as hot as many might suppose. In fact, he adds, dishes at Thai Express @ Sahara can be ordered on a 1-to-10 spiciness scale.

The restaurant’s focus on authenticity also is reflected in the decor of the dining room, which includes photos and posters of Thailand, as well as Thai music playing in the background.

Thai Express @ Sahara seats about 58, Birk says, and the surroundings offer diners “a nice feeling.”

In addition to the main menu, the restaurant offers a lunchtime buffet, for $7.99, Mondays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Thai Express @ Sahara is open Mondays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Takeout orders are available, and reservations are required for parties of 10 or more.

Appetizers: Chicken satay (five skewers), $7.95; crab rangoon (six pieces), $6.95; combination appetizer platter, $8.95

Soups and salads: Tom yum shrimp or fish soup, $11.95 small and $19.95 large; papaya salad, $7.95; yum neua beef salad, $9.95

Entrees: Phad prik khing (stir fry), $8.95 for pork, chicken or beef and $10.95 for shrimp; Tour of Thailand (steamed or fried rice, Pad Thai and choice of curry), $12.95; red curry, $8.95 for pork, chicken or beef and $10.95 for shrimp; Thai ham fried rice, $8.95; Chinese sausage fried rice, $7.95

Desserts: Coconut ice cream, $2.95; mango over sweet rice (seasonal), $6.95

Information: 362-3624

By JOHN PRZYBYS

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