TWIN FALLS — Oh, the joys of opening a new restaurant.
Rice & Bites, a Thai restaurant on Addison Avenue, opened two weeks ago, but there’s still work to be done. The sign outside needs some lighting, the website is late, but the hardest part? It’s all about the location.
“Having a little restaurant tucked away on one of the busiest streets in Twin Falls makes it difficult,” said manager Rick Jean-Blanc, “but the most important thing is that you just have to let your name.”
While setting up a restaurant in a highly competitive industry can be nerve-wracking, it has its perks, Jean-Blanc said.
One specific customer said it was their new favorite Asian restaurant and immediately wrote a positive review on Yelp.
What makes the food so delicious, Jean-Blanc said, is that almost everything from sauces to marinades is made from scratch.
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“We’re going to put ourselves on the map by the type of food we serve,” he said. “We serve the freshest food possible.”
The situation is a dream come true for Jean-Blanc. He has 10 years of restaurant experience, but mostly in sports bar type establishments. But he has always been drawn to Asian cuisine.
“I love the colors and flavors of food,” he said.
Nathan and Polly Tyler own the restaurant.
Polly Tyler, originally from Thailand, has over 20 years of experience in the restaurant industry and her parents run a Thai restaurant in California.
Chef’s specialties include the Bangkok Inferno. As the name suggests, it can be hot, with sautéed ground chicken and peppers in a spicy garlic basil sauce, served over rice and a fried egg.
The restaurant adapts to the spicy preferences of customers. If they want it mild, they get it mild, but customers said the spicy dishes had great flavor, Jean-Blanc said.
“They say it tastes good, but the flavor is there,” he said. Instead of just adding more peppers, he adds other ingredients including garlic and fish sauce “to balance it all out”.
Regular customer Thad Esquivel stopped by for a bite to eat on Friday. He likes his food spicy, he said, and the restaurant aims to please.
“It’s a great restaurant,” Esquivel said.
Another chef’s specialty is the Idaho Potato Curry – a tribute to Idaho with a Thai twist – classic potato and chicken curry with vegetables cooked with natural palm sugar, milk coconut and cumin.
Jean-Blancs said the restaurant recently started serving a lettuce wrap made with ground chicken topped with fried wonton chips. A side of sweet chili sauce completes it.
Vegetarian options are available on many dishes.
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The restaurant’s menu is geared more towards quick service, with a “personal bites” and “bigger bites” option that lets customers choose their proteins and sides, but Jean-Blanc said the menu will expand to more a sit-down restaurant.
“We’re a family-friendly Asian noodle bar and grill,” he said, “and the reason it’s family-friendly is because we want people to bring their kids.”