Thai Fast Food

When I lived in Baltimore, one of my favorite restaurants was Thairish (pronounced like ‘Thai’ and ‘Irish’ elided into a single word — the owner is Thai, and his wife is Irish, as I understand it). Thairish’s formula was simple: they had a vegetable mixture. They had shrimp, chicken, and tofu. You could get the vegetables and one of the protein sources with your choice of six or so sauces — panang, masaman, and others — over rice. (They also had Pad Thai and a yummy Tom Kah Gai, and all right spring rolls, but the curries were the heart of the menu.)

I’ve always thought that this would be an excellent basis for a chain fast-food restaurant. The only problem is that there’s really nothing you can eat one-handed while driving. The cheater’s solution would be to make it the sort of fast food where sitting down is mandatory, situate it in shopping malls, and be done. But could you make a sort of cone out of brown rice, and quickly fry it so that it behaves something like a tortilla? You could certainly offer bowls for people who don’t want the extra calories, or who want a more traditional experience, but by competing with drive-thru fast-food you open up whole new markets.

There might still be somewhere in Middle America where Thai food is too exotic, or too spicy. Thairish’s mild sauces are lovely and wonderful, but you could also use the spice in a marketing campaign, convincing America’s teens to out-macho each other with the spicy dishes…

3 thoughts on “Thai Fast Food

  1. Chipotle Mexican Grill has this down pat;

    Taco or Burrito?

    Black or Pinto?

    Pork, Chicken, Beef, or Veggie?

    Hot, Medium or Mild?


    Okay, $5 and change and you’re out of here with your freshly wrapped item. It’s pretty impressive, actually.


  2. Rob: precisely, yes: Thairish applies the same technique to yummy thai food. I’m just looking at how to make it work for drive-through.


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