An exciting restaurant combining two glorious Asian cuisines is coming to the Heritage District in Irving: Called The Padaek, it's opening at 120 S. Main St., where it will serve Thai and Laotian specialties and street food, and it's opening in mid-February.
The founders include husband-and-wife Art and Manee Suttisaragara, both from Thailand; and another couple, Pithananan "Pete" Saosud, who is Thai, and his wife Khonemany "KC" Chanthasone, a chef who is Loatian and is an expert at Laotian dishes.
They'll be bringing together homestyle recipes for some of their homelands' spiciest dishes.
According to Saosud, the restaurant is named for padaek, a Lao fermented fish sauce that's used in Som Tum, the classic papaya salad beloved in both Thai and Laotian cuisines.
He says that padaek is almost like a secret handshake for the Laotian and Thai communities.
"It's a funny name and we knew it would be a familiar thing to people who love it," Saosud says. "It's a fermented food, like pickled radish, and it has a strong smell. You have to keep in a jar for a month to get that strong flavor. People in the villages, sometimes all they eat is sticky rice and padaek."
They're still working on their menu but he says it'll be dominated by Laotian items, combined with the Thai dishes people know best including pad Thai and pad see eew, a stir-fried dish featuring wide flat noodles that's a street food vendor staple.
"We'll also do Leng Saeb, a spicy soup with pork bone — it only has a little meat but it's all about the flavor of the bone, which is so unique," he says. "And Thai pancakes, a popular street food if you go to Thailand, but hard to find here."
The space will be rustic, with nice woods to create a relaxed atmosphere.
The location has a history with Thai and Laotian food: It was previously home to Sapp Sapp Lao & Thai Kitchen, a family-run restaurant that closed in late 2021, due to the pandemic. That history helped persuade the team behind The Padaek that there was an audience for their restaurant.
They were also encouraged by an initiative by the city of Irving to update the old downtown area.
"We hope to bring something new to Dallas — if you like and can handle the flavors," he says.