By Megan Sheehan
Photos by Steven J. Pallone
Now that I have your attention, please ignore my classic eye-catching tactic to discover one of the newest eateries in town. (More on the covetable crustacean later). One of my favorite things about Syracuse is that you don’t have to go very far to get something different and unique to eat. Our food scene is ever growing, expanding, and making us explore our horizons and push boundaries. Speaking for myself, I am not much of a traveler; I haven’t been to very many places. I have hovered around the East Coast and down to the home of cartoon mice and snowbirds. I am grateful to be able to have world cuisine
at my fingertips despite this. And it just so happens, Syracuse is the proud owner of a new spicy spot.
Jenny Bassett and her daughter, Cake, have just opened their own taste of Thailand. Thai Thai Cuisine opened its doors in March of 2019, though their journey began years ago. The two are from Bangkok and made their way to Oregon in 2003, where Jenny’s mother, father and sister all manned a Thai restaurant. Starting young in the family business, even at 14, Cake helped and worked alongside her grandmother in the kitchen.
“I always washed dishes in the back, and I helped her cut stuff and I learned from there,” she said.
Her love of snow, season changes, and some friends brought Jenny and Cake to Upstate NY.
“I like the rain, the winter,” Jenny said. “I [went] to Ithaca to work at the Thai restaurant for seven months then I moved to Syracuse.”
From here, between the pair, they have been a part of nearly every Thai restraint in Syracuse. Learning, growing, and
improving, Jenny decided it was time for her family to come back together under one roof. Almost more importantly, she wanted to create a truly authentic Thai cuisine experience. She wanted to really capture and share the traditional, authentic way to prepare and serve Thai cuisine.
“When you go to a Thai restaurant, they try to make it American style. My mom has been cooking more than 20 years, so that’s why we try to make real Thai style,” she said. “I want to make it the right way.”
It was frustrating for Jenny to see incorrect recipes and non-traditional dishes go mainstream.
“You can go to YouTube, and they say it’s Pad Thai but it’s not.,” Jenny said. “So I want people to eat Pad Thai and love it, and eat Thai food and love it and then think ‘I want to go to Thailand.’”
Though they can all do each part of restaurant life, Jenny is the owner and operator, Cake helps her mom out, and waits tables, and Jenny’s brother, Boyd Thongmee is the main chef. They have a staff of about six.
There are parts of the Thai Thai menu that haven’t been seen in Syracuse before — family recipes Jenny gets directly from her mother.
“I bring her recipes from Oregon to here, from Bangkok to Syracuse,” Jenny said.
For example: The sexy crab roll, which is served with a delicious sweet and sour sauce along with an exciting twist. The sauce is set on fire.
“That’s why it’s sexy! Sexy hot!” Jenny said.
Jenny is exceedingly proud of her culture and her recipes and already has repeat customers and visitors from distances to come try out her food. The prices are affordable with a delicious menu filled with specials. If you’re concerned about the level of spicy, they do have a five-pepper hotness rating and will customize your order for you.
While Jenny is thrilled to have customers who come so often she can predict their orders, she invites those who haven’t stopped in to come try the food.
“I want people to try something new,” Jenny said. “Give us a chance.”
Their recipes aren’t necessarily a secret but Jenny says if you want it, you’ve got to go ask her mom for it. She’s not squealing.
Thai Thai Cuisine is located at 3138 Erie Blvd E. Syracuse, and open split hours from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m. Monday to Saturday and noon to 9 p.m. Sundays.