A Thai Take on American Brunch at Dallas’ Pakpao

Dallas’ brunch scene just got a lot more exciting

The Thai omelette is filled with ground pork, scallions, and cilantro.

Planning brunch? How about Thai? If that conjures up notions of pad Thai and Massaman curry and that sounds out of place at brunch then check out Dallas’ Pakpao, which recently started brunch on Saturday and Sunday with a menu that looks strikingly ‘brunchy’ but features a Thai twist. We checked it out at a recent media event.

Take that standby, eggs Benedict. Pakpao does Thai chicken eggs Benedict ($16) in which legs of chicken fried with a crisp, totally grease-free batter, are embellished with two poached eggs enrobed in a mayonnaise piqued with fresno chilies. A color accent is provided by a dollop of Chinese celery.

Thai omelette ($11) is filled with ground pork, scallions and cilantro, then topped with a spiral of cucumber marinated in lime juice, coconut juice, and that Thai staple, fish sauce.

Dessert staples get the same treatment. Thai tea French toast ($11) comes with a sweet coconut sauce, pandan leaf, and Thai tea powdered sugar.

The ubiquitous short stack, in the guise of coconut pancakes ($11), come dotted with pineapple chunks bathed in pineapple syrup and topped with a large dollop of whipped butter. Coconut flakes are sprinkled over all. Both of these desserts will delight those with a sweet tooth.

Beverages go beyond the familiar mimosa: a lychee Bellini projects the unmistakable sharpness of lychee fruit on top of a peach base, putting it at the top of my ratings. Pakpao Fresh Housemade Juices is the most interesting section of the drinks menu. Each is a pure fruit expression. Watermelon mint (watermelon, mint, and lime), $5.50, stridently expresses its watermelon and cucumber Thai basil cooler (cucumber, basil, mint, cilantro, and lemon), $5.50, tastes of its cucumber roots with basil accents. Your choice of alcohol can be added to any of these (we chose to consume them straight). These drinks may be Pakpao’s most original creation, so it is fitting that a juice bar features juices from some of Southeast Asia’s most exotic fruits (lychee, mangustan and jackfruit among them). For wine lovers, the broad list reflects the joint ownership with Oak, the high-end New American restaurant. Markups are about 2.5-times retail.

We tasted the Pakpao brunch at the original Design District location. However, it is also available at the other location (in the Preston Hollow area of north Dallas) and will be available in the forthcoming Plano location. The Pakpao concept, with a menu designed by celebrity chef Jet Tila as well as professional design features, is clearly designed to go multi-site, although owner and CEO Richard Ellman apparently wants to do that organically and does not want to franchise, fearing loss of quality.

The Pakpao brunch offers a change of pace, and is a welcome addition to the Dallas dining scene. I recommend you try it soon before it is discovered and becomes difficult to secure a reservation.