“When I walk out of the store, a lot of people will have carts filled with cans and boxes of stuff, and I’m just there with fruits and vegetables piled up,” he said. “That’s the basis of how we make our sauces.”
Bananas Thai was founded in 2016 by Kay Munoz, Atley’s mother, and the recipes are inspired by her upbringing eating authentic Thai food prepared by her Thailand native family, Atley said. Atley’s grandmother grew up in a small village called Taling Chan, where the original Thailand floating market is held.
“We all kind of grew up eating her food,” Atley said. “A lot of her recipes are carried down to what we’re doing here.”
Prior to moving to Houston, Munoz ran two other Thai restaurants in California, Atley said. The California restaurants were run with partners in ownership, whereas Bananas Thai is owned and operated entirely by Munoz, he said.
“Here, she’s able to really take that style that she learned from her mother and pass it down to all our customers,” he said.
The expansive menu includes popular dishes that can be found at most Thai restaurants, such as drunken noodles, pad thai and a variety of curries. Atley said his family also endeavors to feature more distinct dishes, including pork spare ribs; spicy basil fish; and brown forest curry, a dish made with bell peppers, green beans, baby corn, bamboo shoot, broccoli, zucchini, eggplant, straw mushrooms, snow peas, carrots and cabbage in a housemade spicy plant-based curry paste.
“Whenever we’re not serving customers, we’re back chopping and making the pastes,” Atley said. “Everything is made from scratch. That’s where we’re able to make our taste unique as well because we can really modify the ratios of what we put in.”
The coronavirus pandemic has forced the eatery to adapt, but a drop in lunchtime traffic caused by the closure of nearby offices was offset by more people now working from home, Atley said. The restaurant is open for dine-in service, contactless delivery, takeout and curbside pickup, he said.
“We’re here to serve our customers however they feel most comfortable,” he said.
Bananas Thai Cuisine
15556 FM 529, Houston
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 11 a.m.-8 p.m., Sat.-Sun. noon-8 p.m.