This popular Thai food truck is opening a restaurant in downtown Louisville

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By Dahlia Ghabour, Louisville Courier Journal |Tue, January 18, 2022

When Kathy Aphaivongs first moved to Louisville from Bangkok, Thailand, she wanted to open a restaurant. But money doesn’t go as far here as it does in Thailand, and she swore to herself she’d fund it herself.

After five years of running the All Thai’d Up food truck, Aphaivongs is realizing her dream. All Thai’d Up will open a brick-and-mortar restaurant at 211 S. 5th St. in the former Carali’s Rotisserie Chicken space in mid-February.

“People said downtown is dead, but it’s not dead, it’s just in a coma,” she said. “It’ll come back. The infrastructure is there. This space fits my vision for a fast-casual ordering place.”

The 2,600-square-foot space is a huge expansion from the truck, where Aphaivongs only had space to cook about five menu items. Now, she’ll have more than 20 tables and a full kitchen, allowing her to expand the menu.

Unlike other Asian fusion concepts, Aphaivongs cooks authentic, spicy Thai food that she grew up eating and cooking in Thailand. She makes pad Thai, of course, but she serves it Thai style, neutral with peppers and peanuts on the side. Her basil stir-fry, or pad kra rao gai, is made with fresh Thai chilies, Thai basil and a three-chili spice warning on the menu.

“I cook the way I grew up eating it and I serve it like that, too,” she said. “It’s hard work: I make everything from scratch. Thai food is labor-intensive and prep-heavy. In Thailand, I can buy packets of chili sauce. Here, I have to make it. These are things I don’t think people see behind the scenes.”

All Thai’d Up serves classic Thai noodle dishes like pad Thai and pad see ew, rice bowl curries, fried spring rolls and boba tea. When the restaurant opens, Aphaivongs will add a chicken curry puff pastry and stir-fries with more vegetables, as well as a northern Thailand dish called kao soi, made with egg noodles and curry broth. She describes it as across between yellow curry and red curry.

The new restaurant will also have a small Thai snack section, Thai coffees and eventually, take-and-bake dishes for dinner. Aphaivongs said she is excited to be able to talk to customers about the different regions of Thailand her dishes come from.

“Yellow curries are Indian influenced, so they have nutmeg and cardamom, whereas green and red curries are more central Thai,” she said. “Fusion yellow and red curries are northern Thai, and then there’s Laoshin influence, from northeast Thailand.”

Aphaivongs grew up in Bangkok, in central Thailand, but had Laoshin nannies, so she was exposed to all kinds of Thai foods growing up.

“I see so many parallels from Louisville to Bangkok, which is also a foodie city,” she said. “I’m so happy Kentucky has evolved since I came here in the early 2000s. There’s a lot more authenticity in foods here now.”

All Thai’d Up will be open Monday to Friday, 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Features reporter Dahlia Ghabour covers food, dining trends and restaurants in the Louisville area. Send tips on new places or story ideas to dghabour @courier-journal.com or follow on Twitter @dghabour.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Food truck All Thai’d Up to open a restaurant in downtown Louisville

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