Adorning several of the walls in Southlake’s Malai Kitchen are photographs of fishing boats, markets, and other scenes from Thailand and Vietnam.
The pictures were captured by Braden and Yasmin Wages, the owners and creators of the restaurant. The Wages have used their travels, experiences and talents to bring their take on traditional Thai and Vietnamese cuisine to North Texas.
“We just really love the food,” Yasmin said. “And we committed to making it as inspired by tradition as possible; it’s kind of our motto, and the only way to do that is to actually experience the culture and be there—see it firsthand.”
The couple opened the first Malai Kitchen in Uptown Dallas six years ago. When they decided to open a second location, they chose the Park Village shopping center that opened in 2016 in Southlake.
“It’s such a great community here,” Braden said. “People [...] care about quality and healthy options.”
Yasmin added that customers in the Southlake area are well-traveled.
“They appreciate sort of the nuances of what we do,” she said.
Braden, who acts as head chef, said he tries to work with the nature of the food by using clean, healthy
Malai Kitchen has no freezers, and the Wages said they pride themselves on using fresh ingredients. The restaurant gets six seafood deliveries a week, for example.
Freshly brewed beer is made on-site.
Malai Kitchen even makes its own curry paste, sugar cane juice, Sriracha sauce and coconut milk.
“In today’s world, everyone wants the freshest possible stuff, and fresher always tastes better,” Braden said. “It always tastes healthier and tastes better, and so anywhere we can incorporate that into what we do, we have.”
The menu offers diners a variety of options.
The Seared Jumbo Sea Scallops ($22) offers a serving of pad thai noodles, shredded carrots, sliced green onions, crushed peanuts and tofu coated in spicy tamarind sauce and topped with three scallops.
A half rack of Vietnamese Barbeque Pork Ribs ($17) is coated in a ginger soy glaze and topped with a green papaya slaw and sesame seeds served over green curry noodles.
When asked for a recommendation, Yasmin usually suggests the Red Curry Georges Bank Cod ($19), which features pan-seared cod, curried jasmine rice and wok-seared vegetables.
“It combines two of the things that we do a fabulous job with, which is our scratch curries with our seafood,” she said.
Guests can see into the kitchen to watch their dishes being cooked.
“The kitchen is the heart of the restaurant; it’s where all of the energy is,” Yasmin said. “And our cooking style is really exciting. And we have nothing to hide. Everything we do is fresh. I think there’s an innate comfort level when people can see what’s happening in the kitchen, and we like it.”
1161 E. Southlake Blvd., Ste. 220, Southlake • 817-251-9141
Hours: Sun.-Thu. 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-11 p.m.