HUNTERSVILLE – Thai Emerald is no fusion restaurant. It serves only one type of Asian cuisine, which is a rarity in today’s market.
“We are all Thai food here,” said co-owner and co-manager Saran Srichomkuan. “We don’t want to water down the entrée, so we concentrate on one thing.”
That one thing is some of the best, most authentic Thai food that customers will find in this area.
Srichomkuan grew up in Thailand but came to the United States as an exchange student for high school. He stayed for college and eventually earned a master’s degree in agriculture business, which is a big career in Thailand.
“I thought I might go back and put it to good use,” he said.
Then Srichomkuan got an internship in North Carolina. Here, he met Derek Lertserikul and his sister, Grace. He went into business with the brother and married the sister.
Srichomkuan and Lertserikul make a formidable restaurant team. During his schooling, Srichomkuan worked in fine dining. He thoroughly understands both the American and Thai cultures and is able to seamlessly meld the two into a wonderful dining experience.
Lertserikul worked in his parent’s restaurants for his entire life and also at chain restaurants, such as the Melting Pot and Outback Steakhouse.
The two took over Thai Emerald from Lertserikul’s father in March 2013 and have made some small adjustments. “We changed the logo and made some small changes in some dishes, but the menu is mostly the same,” said Srichomkuan. “We’ll just keep improving as we go.”
The restaurant is intimate with Thai touches in every corner. It’s a place to settle in over a drink.
Srichomkuan sets down a beautifully layered glass with a flourish of his hand. The Thai coffee looks like a work of art. The bottom of the glass is dark brown, almost black, and the top is pure, creamy white. The drink gives Starbucks a run for it’s money. The dark roast perfectly complements the sweet condensed milk on top.
Also try the Thai ice tea, which will please those Southern sweet tea lovers.
No matter how wonderful, the drinks will quickly get pushed aside once the food is delivered.
The chicken satay arrives and it is a wonder. The poultry is expertly marinated and served with a peanut sauce that is simply to-die-for. It bursts with fresh flavor and ground peanuts.
The green curry, also known as Gaeng Keow Wan Curry, is bursting with fresh vegetables and slow-simmered flavor, but be careful how you order. The curry tasted was a ‘1’ on the spice scale, meaning that is the least spicy, and it still had some major heat to it.
“We are not messing around with the spice,” Srichomkuan said. “We serve many people from Thailand, so we keep to very traditional levels of spice.”
The majority of menu items are made in-house, including the spring rolls, desserts, sauces and dressings.
“People really seem to love our Spring Roll Sauce,” Srichomkuan said. “We start it, and all our sauces, from absolute scratch using spices and often whole fruits.”
Customers will be able to taste the difference in the freshness and complex flavors.
There are many regulars who are loyal to Thai Emerald, and new customers also seem to find the restaurant every week. James Little, of Charlotte, often happens upon the restaurant while traveling for work.
“The food is just really good,” Little said. “The portions are also huge and the place is so friendly.”
Srichomkuan is happy to be living and working in Huntersville with his wife and her family.
“It is great to cater to the Thai people and the American people,” he said. “I thoroughly enjoy feeding people good food and making them happy.”
For an authentic, amazing Thai meal, it doesn’t get any better than Thai Emerald.
Want to go? Thai Emerald, 10110 Northcross Center Court, #170, Huntersville, 704-896-7484.