Energetic Thai chef Eddie Thretipthuangsin (who mercifully goes by “Eddie T”) suffered a couple of big setbacks over the last two years: Both the Dallas and Forth Worth locations of his innovative eatery Kin Kin Urban Thai closed, and though the Dallas location was briefly reimagined as Bite, that venture also closed after only a few months. Far from giving up, he has revamped the two concepts and opened the result in Colleyville as Sai Fine Asian Bistro.
Given Colleyville’s demographics, it has always seemed the neighborhood should have a thriving dining scene. Instead, it is a dumpster of chains with food genres as beige as the malls they inhabit. (That is, with the exception of Trio.) Here’s hoping that Eddie T can double the number of interesting restaurants in the town.
Sai will remind you of Kin Kin or Pak Pao (the Aphelia Thai concept that began in the Design District, where Eddie T was opening consulting chef). Don’t look for a densely authentic Thai menu. The theme here is Thai accents of familiar Western favorites. So look for creations like lobster wonton ($11) or Bangkok bouillabaisse ($33), a seafood stew with kaffir lime and chili. Orange balsamic teriyaki chicken ($28) adds toasted sesame seeds and a vibrant orange glaze to marinated chicken. Thai curries — like the red curry chicken ($17) — get through the interpretation process virtually unscathed. But the curry sauce is also repurposed in a delicious Massaman short rib ($30). Shrimp lemongrass risotto ($25) gets coconut milk and kaffir lime, as well as the Italian influence of Parmigiano-Reggiano.
By the time you read this there should be a respectable wine list, but when I visited it was BYOB, as the Colleyville City Council has moved the liquor license glacially through its Kafkaesque processes (90 days and counting).
The food was carefully prepared. Our waiter was knowledgeable and obliging beyond normal levels. Chef Eddie works the crowds with aplomb. The place is comfortable even if the furniture does have a ‘bought at auction’ feel about it.
One thing that may detract from Sai’s appeal may be price. People have an expectation of the cost of (non-Japanese) East Asian food. Is $25 to $30 too much for an entrée? The residents of Colleyville will decide that. In the meantime, I can wholeheartedly recommend the inventive food of a restaurant industry survivor.