The Thai restaurant that quietly started renovating the original Barley Swine on South Lamar Boulevard this past June has just as quietly opened. Krua Urban Thai adds culinary diversity to the corridor, focusing on fresh contemporary Thai dishes as well as crowd-pleasing curries and noodle dishes.
Krua owner and chef Sam Sampaotong also owns the Aroi Thai Cuisine trailer on Highway 290, but the new brick-and-mortar isn’t exactly a sequel. A few of the offerings, like pad Thai and spring rolls, are offered at both eateries, but Krua moves beyond the simple stir-fries that make up the bulk of the truck’s menu. With sous chef Mark Walter, Sampaotong has created a full, casual experience that includes bright salads, easy desserts, and signature steak and seafood entrees.
Sampaotong is bringing in his experience as a chef at five-star hotels to the new venture and retains his commitment to quality sourcing. Highlights on the expansive menu include a spicy stir fry topped with a lightly breaded soft shell crab and plenty of herbs; Texas red fish with a lime-peanut vinaigrette; and black mussels swimming in basil, cherry tomatoes, and a red curry sauce.
There are plenty of vegan and vegetarian offerings like a vegetable stir-fry in a plant-based sauce served on jasmine rice and reworked nam tok. Traditionally a meat-based salad (it’s most commonly listed as waterfall beef or pork on American menus), the Krua version reworks the formula with a trio of mushrooms — oyster, button, and beech.
For now the restaurant is only open for lunch and dinner, but the tiny space will soon be offering brunch. That service should be a hit with Austinites looking for an alternative to the glut of migas and Benedicts that define most Sunday Funday menus. Expect Hai Yai fried chicken with sticky rice; kow griep pag mor (rice paper parcels stuffed with pork); lump crab omelettes; and jok, Thailand’s version of congee.
The very small drinks menu currently only includes a few white and red wines by the glass and bottle and a single IPA (by Friends and Allies), but that is sure to expand soon.