Diners love discounts, and Tasty Thai in the Northland has a knack for serving up enticing specials.
Particularly all day on Wednesdays, when an even $5 gets you a heaping, hearty plate of stir-fried rice — enough to take a portion home — with a handmade egg roll on the side, preceded by a serving of soup.
The popular and neat-as-a-pin storefront restaurant on Northwest Prairie View Road has so many rotating daily specials that longtime patrons seem trained.
“They don’t even need a menu,” says Marisa Wiruhayarn, co-owner with her husband, Dom. “They say, ‘We already know what we want.’”
All the specials are worthy, but here in five-buck lunch land, the dine-in restaurant’s Wednesday special really hits the mark. Tasty Thai also has a Liberty location, and the specials work the same there.
I much enjoyed the Thai fried rice entree: jasmine rice with eggs, carrots, onions and tomatoes. But there are three other options:
The Hawaiian fried rice dish is sweeter, Marisa says, with pineapple, raisins and cashews. Curry fried rice is bolder, with curry powder, of course. And basil fried rice features fresh basil and bell peppers.
The Wiruhayarns met in the United States, but both are from Thailand. They opened Tasty Thai at the shopping center next to Interstate 29 14 years ago. Restauraturing was a dream of Dom’s. He defers to Marisa for interviews because he says her English is better.
“When new people come in, they’re surprised,” Marisa says. “It’s homey inside. All the pictures and cross-stitch on the wall, that’s my work. We’re a mom-and-pop shop. Everything we do has our signature.”
Until earlier this year, Marisa worked as an accountant while helping Dom with the restaurants. The couple recently opened a noodle restaurant, Big Bowl Pho, next door. They opened the Liberty Tasty Thai in 2010, and they’re planning a Big Bowl Pho there, too.
And Marisa has launched her own project, Tasty Thai Tiger Cried Sauce. The bottled sauce works as a marinade and for dipping. It’s available at area supermarkets and at KCTastyThai.com.
But back to the specials. All day on Mondays, if you order a red, green, yellow or panang curry entree, you get a second one for $1. On Tuesdays it’s the same deal with any pad thai dish. There are more, all listed on the website.
The owners, of course, wouldn’t mind if you sampled some of the entrees not on the specials list. Among Marisa’s dinner favorites are the bah mee hang, a steamed egg noodle dish for $9.95, and sesame chicken, a stuffed chicken breast for $10.95. The latter is perhaps the kitchen’s most complicated dish to prepare.
“We tried to take it off the menu, but our customers wouldn’t let us,” she says, laughing.
If the daily specials are what bring you in, she’s good with that, too.
“People like to get out, but you can’t go very often if everything is so expensive,” Marisa says. “This way you can enjoy more, and we can get to know each other.”