Thai House

Food and dessert enthusiast brings a taste of her family's culture to restaurant's menu



Chef and entrepreneur Ranee Reyes began cooking at age 8. Her love for food is what led her to the restaurant business, she said.



"It's a food-lover's paradise," she said. "Anything I want to eat, it's right there at my fingertips now."



Reyes opened Thai House in March 2010. The restaurant's name, she said, comes from her mother, Jai Hamende, who owned another restaurant in the 1990s in Austin called Thai House. Reyes attributes her love for food and cooking to her family culture.



"It runs in our blood," she said. "As I was growing up, food was always our business. My aunt, my uncle, we all loved to eat. I don't know if I've ever met a Thai person that doesn't like to eat. When we get together, we could sit, talk for hours with a table full of food."



Her son, Jason Toman, works at the restaurant on Mondays. Toman said growing up, food was always a large part of his family because his mother and grandmother are excellent cooks. Thai House's menu is full of dishes he grew up eating, he said.



Reyes said prior to opening the business she always dreamed of owning a restaurant. Thai House's location at Burnet Road and US 183 was a former Thai Passion restaurant location owned by Gene Kabboon, a long-time family friend of Reyes'. When he vacated the spot, she said she was attracted to the location and decided to open her own Thai eatery.



As an avid lover of sweets, she said she often orders a dessert for an appetizer when she dines. Her sweet tooth, she said, is the catalyst for creating an extensive menu of desserts, such as sweet sticky rice topped with mango or custard. All desserts are $3.95.



Reyes, who is originally from Thailand, is visiting Bangkok in December and said she plans to scour street food eateries for inspiration for authentic Thai dishes she could incorporate in the menu.



Thai House offers an all-you-can-eat lunch buffet Monday through Friday from 11 a.m.–2:30 p.m. for $8.99, a special the restaurant has become known for, Reyes said.



Next year Reyes said she plans to rebrand the business and could change the name of the restaurant. She said her goal is to open on Sundays and integrate new flavors in the buffet.



Thai House, 9041 Research Blvd., Ste. 150, 512-832-9722, www.thaihouseaustin.net, Hours: Mon.–Sat. 11 a.m.–9:30 p.m.