I’m really excited about Fish Cheeks! In this city where there’s a hole-in-the-wall Thai restaurant in every neighborhood with the same dim lighting, buddhist sculptures and a menu you’d rather order in from, sit on your couch and eat while catching up on some mindless TV show, I’ve been waiting for something new. When I say “something new”, I’m not talking about those super fancy Thai over-the-top restaurants. I’m talking about something in the middle, something made for me. Something trendy, playful, bright with an exciting authentic menu. It’s finally here!
With it’s white scalloped façade that mimics the scales on a fish that leads into a white walled space, with mesh lamp fixtures, a colorful Thai floral wallpapered accent wall, simple wooden tables and a mix of bright pink, yellow and blue painted wooden chairs with enough space to fit sixty people—we haven’t even gotten to the incredible menu, yet—Fish Cheeks should be added to your list of “must visit restaurants”!
Fish Cheeks is a dream come true, not only for me but for Co-Owner / Co-Chef brothers Chat Suansilphong and Ohm Suansilphong. Coming from Sukhothai, Thailand where their parents owned a restaurant to New York, Chef Chat studied at the Culinary Institute of America, spent some time as a line cook at Colicchio & Sons, became the manager of OBAO while his brother Chef Ohm studied at the Mandarin Oriental Culinary School, worked at Nahm in Bangkok, Long Grain in Australia—it’s a lot, I know! The point is, taking different directions in the culinary world, these two extremely experienced chefs, each in their own right, have reunited in my city of all places to join forces and open a restaurant of their own.
Naming their restaurant after the lean, tender cheek meat that is considered the tastiest part of a fish and a delicacy in Asia, these chef brothers are paying homage to their roots, with a menu they have developed that elevates the homey family style seafood-centric Thai food that they grew up with. Boy have they succeeded. Forewarning, if you are looking for pad thai, go somewhere else. This is not that experience, it’s not even on the menu. Go and experience their incredible seafood. The dishes are served on homey mismatch plates that “you’d find in your Thai grandma’s house” and are intended to be shared. I am still drooling over the memory of their perfectly spiced Coconut Crab Curry that had that kind of spice that gives you flavor without shooting directly to your throat causing you to choke—it’s masterful, you have to get it! While we’re making notes here, the crisp, perfectly fried Calamari with a touch of sweetness and Crab Fried Rice also cannot be missed. Ok, ok, now that I’ve ordered for you, enjoy! But, while we’re on this subject, go with a couple of friends or on a date so that you have a great reason to order more because everything that landed on the table was exciting and delicious in it’s own unique and thoughtfully composed way.