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Thai Family Restaurant is taste of Southeast Asia

By: David Knickerbocker

Date Posted: 2002-03-14

There’s a brand-new Thai restaurant in the heart of Ichibangai, the covered shopping mall located right behind Gate 2 Street and Route 330 in Okinawa City. The Thai Family Restaurant opened on Feb. 2 and serves a number of home-style Thai dishes at very low prices. From 11:30 to 3:00 p.m. on weekdays and 11:30 to 5:00 p.m. on Sundays, the restaurant has an all-you-can-eat buffet where you can sample some of the finest Thai food available on island for only $8.50 or ¥850. During the rest of the day, you can order any number of dishes from their menu for between ¥450 and ¥750 per dish.

Owner Cathy Ficken grew up about an hour-and-a-half drive from Bangkok and started learning to cook from her mother at the age of nine. “In Thailand, the girls do the housework while the men are out working, so I had to learn at an early age,” says Ficken. She has lived on Okinawa for the past four years and has worked as a vendor at many of the local festivals. However, she grew tired of the hustle and bustle of vending and decided to settle down into a more stable atmosphere. This led her to open the Thai Family Restaurant. “My husband is in the military, and I wanted something where I could stay in one place, so I opened this restaurant,” she says. Since opening her restaurant, loyal fans of her cooking have returned to taste her food on a regular basis.

The restaurant serves many delicious Thai dishes at low prices. Hot, spicy, sour shrimp soup costs only ¥750; red curry chicken with bamboo and coconut milk costs ¥550; cashew chicken is ¥650; stir-fried vegetables sells for ¥450; and spring rolls are ¥450 per plate. In opening her new restaurant Ficken wanted to create a casual, relaxing place to eat that wouldn’t ruin anyone’s budget. “I wanted to create a restaurant where people can come in and enjoy the food and not worry about spending too much money,” she says. The buffet menu changes daily, so during buffet hours you have a chance to sample the many specialties she offers, and at night you can come in with a few friends and mix and match a few authentic Thai plates to create an ideal Thai dinner.

Cathy says that the three top sellers at her restaurant are the papaya salad with sticky rice and grilled chicken (¥650), beef noodle soup with bean sprouts (¥550) and spicy sauté basil with beef or chicken (¥650) or shrimp (¥750). Regardless, all meals are delicious and filling, and you will leave satisfied. When stopping by for a bite to eat, be sure to also sample the delicious banana bread muffins.

The Thai Family Restaurant is open from 11:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. daily except for on Wednesdays, when they are closed. The restaurant is located on Ichibangai next to the “Step2” 100-yen store.

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