Grapevine lucks out with a cool new Asian restaurant that combines a variety of cuisines. Called Sabai Sabai Southeast Asian Kitchen, it's at 2350 Hall-Johnson Rd., where it opened in early August.
Sabai Sabai — which roughly translates to "easygoing, laid back, relaxed" — is a family- and friend-run restaurant whose operators share a Lao and Thai background. Owner Nyda Sin is using her broad knowledge of Southeast Asian cuisine as a launch point, to dish out traditional and authentic recipes from family and friends. Menu items feature her favorite dishes from Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia.
"Growing up as a first-generation immigrant was very difficult," Sin says in a release. "Both of my parents were Laotian refugees. They came to the United States not knowing the culture or language. They both worked so hard to make a living to support us."
"Growing up like this gave me a different perspective on food and showed me that something cooked simply can still have a complex, vibrant flavor," she says.
Unlike some Asian restaurants, Sabai Sabai features clear windows looking into the kitchen, where diners can see traditional methods of cooking and seasoned hands creating the dishes.
The menu includes familiar dishes such as pho, fried rice, and Thai tea, but others are authentic and new to the area. There's hot and spicy edamame, chicken satay, Thai curry, and Thai summer rolls.
"One of my favorite dishes is called Mok Pa," Sin says. This dish consists of fish packed with herbs, wrapped and steamed in a banana leaf, and served with sticky rice.
"It reminds me of when I was growing up because this is the dish my mom would make for us most often," she says. "When she was in the kitchen cooking, we all knew we were eating good tonight!"
The menu is helpfully broken down into cuisines. A Cambodian section includes items such as pineapple sweet and sour soup. The Laotian section has offerings such as lemongrass chicken thigh. A Thai section features delicacies such as stir-fried noodles egg wrap. The Vietnamese section has pho and crepes.
There's also a section called "fried rice mania," with nine fried rice options, including cured pork; red curry; and a novel one called mixed nut that has cashews, peanuts, and almonds.
This is Sin's first restaurant.
"It became a dream of mine to open a restaurant to introduce Grapevine to traditional Southeast Asian food," she says. "In a lot of instances, you may think you’ve tried most Thai dishes when, in reality, a lot of our traditional recipes have been hiding for a long time. It is time to introduce our community to them."