Asian Mint (and its smaller sibling, The Mint) are worth a lunch, dinner or brunch visit on your next trip to Dallas if you fancy some honest-to-goodness Thai favorites and maybe fancy some non-traditional dishes derived from Thai ingredients and preparations but informed by a western culinary program as well. Asian Mint is comparable only with Malai Kitchen in the Dallas area in its willingness to experiment and fuse two transparently different cultures.
At a recent media dinner, owner Nikki Phinyawatana, who manages front-of-house, and her husband chef Tan Noisin took us through their selection of favorites. Top of my list were the Spicy Tuna Crisps ($11). Chopped tuna with a dash or aioli and dollop of homemade chili sauce all plonked on top of seaweed salad on a wonton crisp. Glorious flavors based on tuna but with creamy and piquant flashes and textural variation due to the wonton.
Also of note among the innovative section of the menu, Crispy Pad Thai ($8). A pad Thai but with wonton strips replacing the rice noodles. A simple change, but very tasty. Diners who want a traditional pad thai can get that as well - or one of two other custom versions.
A couple of fish dishes are also notable. For that disciplined grasp of flavor and texture that Tan showed with crispy pad thai, try the crispy red snapper, served with a vegetable selection (including bok choy, broccoli, red bell pepper and scallions).
Steamed Sea Bass ($24) takes a different approach, worshipping the succulence of the lightly-cooked flesh with a similar vegetable selection.
Nikky’s concentration in the El Centro culinary program was desserts, so it is no surprise to find a very serious approach to them. Pride of place goes to green tea ice cream cake. It is both a photogenic tour de force and an example of one of the best ice cream cakes in town. The ice cream, interestingly enough, comes from local supplier Henry’s.
The smaller sister restaurant, Mint, has about 80 percent of the Asian Mint menu (plus a few items not at Asian Mint) and both locations offer weekend brunch (not on Sundays at Mint). Mint is 10 minutes Uber or Lyft from Dallas Love Field, so a more convenient choice for Dallas visitors using that airport.
With several years in business at both locations, this is one family-run Thai restaurant that has shown staying power and is still showing its creativity. Recommended.