Thai/Laotian restaurant is open in Fort Worth WestBend shops

The Zaap offers young coconut juice, Thai tea, Lao iced coffee and Joy Macarons ice cream sandwiches.

The Zaap offers young coconut juice, Thai tea, Lao iced coffee and Joy Macarons ice cream sandwiches.

Handout photo

Fort Worth was never shy of trying spicy Thai or Lao food.

But first a trip to Haltom City and somewhere like the old original Bangkok Cuisine or Sikhay Thai Lao was required.

Family restaurants ended up spreading out across small towns across town, from the south-facing mainstay, Spice, to the west-facing insider picks, Thai Terrace.

Now Thai and Lao food has arrived in a modern, upscale mall.

Meet Zaap Kitchen Lao and Thai Street Eats, a new counter-service store on 1621 River Run in the WestBend stores near HG Sply Co.

The Singharaj family is bringing Thai and Lao food into the 21st century with fast service, an easy-to-read menu and online ordering via the smartphone app.

The Thai dishes have become famous: Pad Thai, Panang Curry, spicy basil with rice.

Zaap (Lao for “delicious”) uses Thai dishes as a gateway to introduce Lao cuisine, such as the distinctive Lao green papaya salad, larb and garlic wings or riblets.

“Lao food is more like home cooking,” said Tony Singharaj.

zaap 7.jpg Drunken noodles, fried pineapple rice with prawns and red panang curry at Zaap Kitchen. Handout photo

An aunt had opened a Thai restaurant in Collin County, Sticky Rice, and soon other members of the Singharaj family were leaving their corporate jobs to start take-out stores.

“We want to make Thai and Lao food mainstream,” Singharaj said.

He is proud of the tangy-sweet-tangy taste.

(I explained to him that Fort Worth customers like their food spicier than Dallas, whether it’s curry, jambalaya, or molcajete.)

Zaap can up the spice level and sometimes has fresh chilies from the family garden, he said.

There’s a Lao combo ($ 14.99) with sausage, wings, jerk, or riblets with sticky rice and Lao papaya salad. A flavorful jeow-som sauce is available on the site.

zaap 5.jpg The Zaap offers young coconut juice, Thai tea, Lao iced coffee and Joy Macarons ice cream sandwiches. Handout photo

The Thai menu offers well-known soups, curries, noodles and rice dishes with chicken, shrimp, beef, pork or tofu for USD 10.99.

Before his family opened restaurants, they went to Thai Noodle Wave, a popular restaurant chain in Collin County.

In Tarrant County he had tried the distinctive Thai boat noodles at Thai Charm Cuisine in Haltom City and the dishes at Asiannight’s Lao Thai Cuisine near Sikhay.

“We love the family restaurants,” said Singharaj. “Our goal is to appeal to the younger population group.”

IMG-8622.jpg Zaap Kitchen is located in WestBend on the sidewalk to HG Sply Co. and the Trinity Trail. Bud Kennedy [email protected]

Zaap is a couple of doors down from HG Sply on the same sidewalk, so this won’t be difficult.

Zaap has locations in Dallas and chose a Fort Worth location on South University Drive near the Fort Worth Zoo and Trinity Trail.

There’s no other Asian restaurant nearby unless you count the sushi bar at Pacific Table in University Park Village.

On Monday the few tables in the restaurant inside and outside were already full, mostly with young women drinking vegetable rolls, Lao iced coffee or Thai tea.

In the old PopBar next to the dessert paradise SusieCakes, Zaap offers its own unmistakable chilled sweets: JOY Macarons ice cream sandwiches with French macaroons in eight flavors.

It is open every day for lunch and dinner. 682-255-5752, zaapkitchen.com.

Columnist Bud Kennedy is a Fort Worth man who covered high school soccer at age 16 and attended two Super Bowls, seven political conventions, and 15 legislative sessions in Texas. Since 1985, he has also written more than 2,000 “Eats Beat” columns on restaurants, dining and eating in Texas.

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