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Dining News: Now Open - Coconut Midtown Thai Restaurant, Replacing Negril


Coconut Midtown Thai Restaurant, which replaced Luck BBQ and Negril Island Grill at 25th & J, opened earlier this month serving fresh, but affordable Thai food.

I visited the restaurant on Friday evening for happy hour (natch) and found a surprisingly busy restaurant given the fact that it had only been open a couple weeks.

In a short interview with the owner Nan Pangpanga, she told me that she came to America from Thailand in 2005. In Thailand, she had a bachelor's degree in accounting and finance and a master's degree in management. In Thailand, she had an import/export business, and tried to sell Thai silk across the world. Unfortunately, she soon realized she couldn't compete with China.

After she moved to America, she worked in restaurants, most recently at Thai Paradise in Folsom. While she was working at a restaurant, she took her analytical mind and analyzed what people ordered for a month. That helped her shape the menu at Coconut Midtown.

Pangpanga's goal is to get as close to organic as possible. (She would do fully organic, but many ingredients aren't certified as organic since there's not the demand for that yet in the Asian market.) She also notes that while her price point is lower than her competitors on the same street, she still uses expensive ingredients like rice bran oil. (A subsequent search on Amazon shows that rice oil's about 37 cents an ounce, whereas canola oil is about a third less.) She also stressed that the restaurant was vegan friendly.

While I didn't get a chance to try it, the dish that intrigued me was the Spicy Thai Burger. She says that Thai herbs are mixed into the ground beef. It's not a combination that I would have created on my own, but I'm optomistic that the unique taste will work well together.

I tried their happy hour chicken sa-tay skewers, their organic fresh rolls and the pot stickers. I thought the skewers and the rolls were real winners, while the pot stickers were decent, but unremarkable.

Coconut Thai Restaurant is located at 2502 J St. You can find them online at http://www.coconutmidtown.com/ or on Facebook.

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