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ThaiKota goes to Thailand

All About Food | June 19th, 2024

By Rick Gion and T.J. & Gina Edra

rickgion@gmail.com

T.J. and Gina Edra own ThaiKota, a favorite, flavorful hole-in-wall in downtown Fargo. In April, they made a trip to Thailand to pick up some special ingredients and explore even more about Thai cuisine. Read their interview below to learn about this recent trip and also about their delicious cuisine.

HPR: Hi there! Please tell HPR's readers a little about yourselves.

T.J. & Gina: Our names are T.J. Edra and Gina Edra. We are the owners and cooks of ThaiKota. T.J. was born and raised in Hawaii with a Filipino background and Gina is from Thailand and lived in the northern province of Chiang Rai. We met and got married in Fargo. We both always wanted to have our own restaurant, so we opened ThaiKota in 2021 during the pandemic. ThaiKota is a fast-casual Northern Thai fusion restaurant.

HPR: People seem to love your food. How is business going at ThaiKota?

T.J. & Gina: Business has been busy for how small of a kitchen and staff we have. People really like the fast-casual pace and authenticity of our food.

HPR: Can you describe your restaurant?

T.J. & Gina: Here at ThaiKota, we try to keep all recipes and flavors true to Thailand. We have a standard menu and also come out with specials that are dishes that are not really common here locally in Fargo such as khao man gai, kuaytiaw reua (boat noodle), yum salmon, yum naem khao tod, and laab kua moo. Customers really enjoy our special dishes.

HPR: I would definitely agree with that. Where is your restaurant located?

T.J. & Gina: We are located at 1201 1st Avenue North in Fargo connected to the Holiday gas station on north University Drive, right on the outskirts of downtown.

HPR: We've heard you've recently been to Thailand. Tell us about that.

T.J.: Every two years, we try to go back to Thailand where Gina is from to visit family and gather supplies and ideas for ThaiKota. Thailand is a beautiful country and is known for its amazing food. If you’re a foodie, your mind will be blown in Thailand with all the crazy foods that they have. Thai food has a balance of sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. It’s also finished with aromatic herbs.

Recently, we traveled to northern Thailand for 10 days to Chaing Rai, where Gina is from. While there, we gathered curry paste, dry herbs and chili paste for the restaurant.

Then we went to Pai, which is a small town in the middle of the jungle in the mountains. Gina has many friends there and knows a lot of chefs that showed us the food and culture of that region.

Then to Chaing Mai, which is the largest city in northern Thailand. One of the most popular dishes there is khao soi. It’s a rich, creamy curry made with coconut milk and served over egg noodles and topped with crispy noodles and fresh herbs. We feature this dish at Thaikota, and we also get our curry paste from these trips that we go on. This is one thing that makes our khao soi special.

Then off to a little island very south of Thailand called Koh Lipe near the Malaysian border. The ocean water there is crystal clear. There, I had my most favorite and funky dish. It was a spicy yum salad with giant catfish eggs, horseshoe crab egg, and crab roe. It was a party in my mouth, very spicy and sour dish with lots of herbs and a umami bomb of seafood roe.

After relaxing on the island, we headed to the final leg of the trip, Bangkok. Bangkok is huge with a population of over 11 million people. This city is in the center of Thailand with a mix of Thai food influences. This is where you can find all your favorite Thai dishes such as pad Thai, pad gra pow, tom yum, and pad see ew.

HPR: Any favorite foods that you tried in Thailand? If so, please describe.

T.J.: Some of the favorites I had were boat noodles, which is a rich beef noodle soup thickened with pork blood. And also tom yum goong which is a hot and sour soup made with fresh prawns. Thailand was fun and eye opening. To all the foodies out there, I highly recommend getting to Thailand, because the food is amazing.

One tip: Probably don’t go during May or April. It's just too damn hot. The average temperature when we were there was 103 to 109 Fahrenheit.

HPR: Have you offered anything on the menu recently inspired from the Thailand trip?

T.J. & Gina: Our last special we did was a jungle curry that’s influenced from driving deep into the jungles to the middle of nowhere where you find restaurants that use herbs and ingredients found locally in that area. So our jungle curry was very spicy, made with a special red curry paste and a lot of aromatic herbs that are roughly cut into a pot and made to perfection.

HPR: Any future plans to feature more items inspired from the Thai trip?

T.J. & Gina: We plan on making specials of some of the dishes we tried on this trip. Please follow our Facebook page for special announcements.

YOU SHOULD KNOW:

ThaiKota

1201 1st Avenue N., Fargo

https://www.facebook.com/Thaikota701

https://www.thaikota.com/

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