If it seems like you can't throw a rock without hitting a Thai restaurant in Houston these days, you can thank Darawan Charoenrat. Charoenrat, the patriarch of the family that's quietly run Kanomwan in the East End for decades, was a pioneer in bringing Thai food and flavors to Houston before passing away this week.
Even as the restaurant grew in size and reputation, Charoenrat and his wife ran most of the operation: He taking orders and running the register, she cooking the food. Unlike others who dumbed down Thai cuisine to suit American palates, Kanomwan stayed true to authentic original recipes. The Tom Ka Gai is legendary, and the green curry is hands-down the best in town.
The furious pace kept Charoenrat famously gruff — customers referred to him lovingly as the Thai Nazi — but he was known to soften, even smile, with prompt orderers or especially if asked about his family.
A note's been posted on Kanomwan's door saying that due to the death the restaurant will be closed until further notice.