The Tiki Thai logo is a yaksha, or yak, a good-natured spirit that guards Buddhist temples in Thailand. But general manager Jeremy Ross points out that this yak isn’t typical Thai. “It’s a blend of cultures in the face of the yak,” he says. On top of its head is a pineapple, a symbol of hospitality, but also a reminder that tiki drinks are on the menu. That pineapple has five leaves, the same number that stands in for an ‘s’ in the Sense of Thai St. logo. All of this will make sense when the team behind the beloved Ashburn restaurant opens Tiki Thai later this fall, serving a tiki-style menu of food and cocktails.
“The whole thing of Tiki Thai has been in the works for about four years,” Ross reveals. To test the concept, Sense of Thai St. did tiki pop-ups each summer. That included specials both from the bar and the kitchen. Last year, the team, which also includes co-owners Porntipa “Pat” Pattanamekar and Parasak “Sing” Chokesatean, signed with Reston Town Center West and began construction with a goal to open in May. Then the pandemic hit. “We didn’t stop, we just decided to slow down,” Ross recalls. Now, he is hopeful that Tiki Thai will open in late November.
What can diners expect? “I’d say about 50 percent is the same as what you’d see at Sense of Thai St.,” Ross says of the menu. The rest will include Thai-inflected takes on tiki dishes like pupu platters and coconut shrimp. “We keep getting creative. We’re just having fun with the menu,” he says. As for drinks, Ross, who is also bar manager, says that he is having tiki-style glassware made specially for the restaurant.
One drink that is sure to be on the menu is the Banana Ti’ Punch, a highly technical tipple that Ross refers to as “a scientific approach to the banana daiquiri.” It includes both homemade banana juice and banana-infused rum. And yes, it’s just as difficult to make banana juice as you’re thinking. “It’s a cocktail that blows everyone away. That will be probably be one of the go-to cocktails,” Ross says. “It involves so much technique and passion. You can actually taste the passion that goes into it.”
And soon, diners will be able to experience the passion firsthand.
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