Labor of love makes Menchaca restaurant a growing success

From left: Owners Rom Noieam, Nam Noieam, Anuruk Noieam and Rathsamy Sengvixai run Tuk Tuk Thai (Courtesy Nam Noieam)
From left: Owners Rom Noieam, Nam Noieam, Anuruk Noieam and Rathsamy Sengvixai run Tuk Tuk Thai (Courtesy Nam Noieam)

From left: Owners Rom Noieam, Nam Noieam, Anuruk Noieam and Rathsamy Sengvixai run Tuk Tuk Thai (Courtesy Nam Noieam)

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By far themost popular menu item, this rice noodle dish is served in Rom Noieam’s family’s style, according to the owners. (Courtesy Nam Noieam)
It was 1996 when Nam and Rom Noieam met from more than 3,000 miles apart in a chatroom for Thai Americans.

Now longtime Austinites, the couple, along with Rom’s brother and sister-in-law Anuruk Noieam and Rathsamy Sengvixai, in 2013 opened Tuk Tuk Thai Cafe.

Rom cooks his family recipes almost exactly as he would at home.

“We care,” Rom said. “When you come in here we want to know you. We have a lot of loyal customers. And we try to make sure that every time they come, we’re like, ‘Oh yeah, you’re our regular.’”

Rom’s family moved to Austin from Thailand when he was 9. In his early 20s he missed speaking in his first language and a friend recommended he join a chatroom for Thai Americans.After almost four years of online conversation with his future wife, Nipattra—who everyone calls Nam—Rom flew to Hawaii to meet her in 1999. They moved to Austin together that year.


Rom spent most of his career in Austin running a contracting business, while Nam spent 13 years working at a pharmaceutical company. In 2012, Rom’s aunt, Kanchana Pumtim, started M Thai Town at 5517 Menchaca Road.

In 2013, Nam learned that her employer would shut down its Texas facility and she would be laid off. That same day, Rom told her that his aunt wanted to sell them the Menchaca restaurant. The couple dove right in, with Rom working on cosmetic fixes and Nam designing the logo. Together they created Tuk Tuk Thai. Business has increased steadily every year since, Rom said, and they plan to expand the kitchen to accommodate serving more takeout and delivery customers.

Nam said they owe their success to their customers.

“Without them, Tuk Tuk wouldn’t be here today,” Nam said.
By Maggie Quinlan

Reporter, Southwest Austin/Dripping Springs

Maggie joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in July 2021 after a year spent covering crime, courts and politics at The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington, near the border with Idaho. In Southwest Austin and Dripping Springs, Maggie covers education, business, healthcare, transportation, real estate development and nonprofits. Prior to CI, she graduated from Washington State University, where she was managing editor of the student newspaper and a section editor at her hometown newspaper based in Moscow, Idaho. Maggie dreamed of living in the Austin area for years and feels honored to serve the communities of Southwest Austin and Dripping Springs.