By Marcy de Luna
Songkran Thai Kitchen, currently soft-open and officially launching May 27, is the latest from owners Ashok Rao, Amy Karnani and chef Junnajet Hurapan. The latter two still run their first successful joint venture, Blu Restaurant & Lounge in Sugar Land. For this new opening, the trio intends to bring a sense of the vibrancy of Thai cuisine to Houston’s Galleria area.
Hurapan says that when asked to come up with a list of names for the restaurant, only one came to mind, Songkran. It's the name of Thailand's traditional New Year's celebration, a annual water festival in April. The Sanskrit word Songkran means to move forward, and the festival incorporates this theme with the throwing of water, a symbol of washing all of the bad away and starting anew. For a new business, the idea is apropos. Adding another layer of depth to the meaning, it was seemingly kismet that the space at Uptown Park, formerly occupied by 1252 Tapas Bar, would come with a large fountain in the courtyard, just outside the front doors.
Sexy and sleek, the space is decorated with auspicious hues of red and dotted with dark wooden tables. Shades of crimson are predominant in the artwork. In the entryway, an image of an angel who presides over the Songkran New Year is painted atop a large mirror, while a Thai trellis has been painted and whitewashed on the woodwork above the bar. A mural of Buddha by artist Robert Gutierrez covers the entire back wall, acting as the focal point of the 2,200 sq.-ft. interior. Just under the mural, one large banquette will eventually become a chef’s table.
Chef Hurapan, known to most simply as “Jett,” goes back to his Bangkok roots with the food, channeling his passion into a menu comprised of both Thai street fare and elevated royal cuisine with high-end ingredients like lobster and Wagyu beef. While the food itself is subtle in flavor, bold, plentiful condiments such as crushed red peppers and fish sauce with chile pack a punch. “Thai is all about dipping sauces so that you can adjust the flavors to your own liking,” he says.
Songkran offers a full bar, globally themed wine list, and local and Thai beer options, but the real temptations are zingy cocktails like the Kamala Beach and Naga Fireball.
“Life is about enjoying family, friends and good food and drinks. We’re celebrating life at Songkran,” says Karnani. Join the celebration: Songkran Thai Kitchen will be open for lunch and dinner Monday-Thursday from 11 AM-10 PM, and Friday-Saturday from 11 AM-11 PM.
Here's a look at five dishes to try on your visit.
1101-08 Uptown Park, 713-993-9096