“It was a dream,” Tim said. “Me and my wife—we tried different careers in our lives, but cooking was it. She started out in King Market as a server, but she’s always been cooking at home, and we’d have guests come over and say, ‘Wow, this is exceptional.’ After that, we knew we wanted a restaurant.”
In 2014, with years of cooking and recipes under their belts—and with the help of their family, who also launched King Market, a grocery store and restaurant in Antioch—the Singtos opened Thai Esane. The eatery serves a combination of Thai and Lao cuisines. The eatery’s first location is on Music Row, and another location recently opened at 5th & Broadway, a new food hall in downtown Nashville.
However, the Singtos said they have always wanted to open a location in Brentwood, as many of their regulars work downtown but live in Brentwood. So when a location in Hill Center Brentwood became available, they jumped at the chance, Nina said.
“We wanted to come to Brentwood. I didn’t want to go anywhere else,” Nina said. “This is the ‘it’ spot here. The first week was chaotic, but I knew my food was great, and Brentwood welcomed us so well. They said the food was great and they’ll be back—I’ll take that all day.”
Nina said many of her customers gravitate toward more commonly known dishes, such as pad thai or Malaysian noodles. However, she said she hopes as customers return, they will be excited to try more adventurous dishes, such as pad phet, a curry dish with bell peppers, bamboo shoots and onion that can be customized with different protein options.
“Our curry is so hearty, and people ask, ‘How do you do it?’” Tim said. “It’s a lot of labor that goes into it. We don’t do anything canned, as far as sauces. Everything is handmade.”
For diners who want to push their palates, dishes can also be customized with sauces and chili oil to make them “Nina hot,” a term Nina uses for flavors that meet her preferred level of spiciness.
“‘Nina hot’ is a spice level that is beyond. It’s crazy,” she said. “I brought it to Nashville, and that’s what I’m known for. Our ‘medium’ is everywhere else’s ‘hot.’”
Thai Esane also includes a full bar with wine, cocktails and a number of local craft beers from the Nashville area. As the weather begins to warm, Nina said, she hopes the eatery’s large patio will become another popular outdoor dining option in the area.
Nina said she has enjoyed introducing diners to Thai food and providing a new option for foodies and transplants from other parts of the country.
“When we opened, I didn’t realize that there are so many people from out of town coming to Nashville to work,” she said. “They love our food and say they can’t find Thai food or anything like that in Nashville. With our food, we keep the authenticity. I don’t Americanize it.”
203 Franklin Road, Brentwood
Hours: Mon.-Sat. 11 a.m.-9 p.m., closed Sun.