Friends hope opening sixth No Thai! location will bring more diverse food options to Brighton

December 16, 2019

This story was originally posted here.

Since three college buddies opened their first Thai restaurant in Ann Arbor about 14 years ago, their business has grown to six locations in Ann Arbor, East Lansing and now Brighton.

Their newest No Thai! location is set to open at 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13 in the Brighton Mall at 8367 Grand River Ave.

“This is our biggest location with the most seating,” said Steve Yang, a new fourth partner who will run the restaurant. “It’s our first to open for a residential community. All the others generally cater to college students.”

Yang and founding partners Noerung “No” Hang, Jeffery Cho and Brian Kim revamped an approximately 2,500-square-foot space they are renting in the mall. It seats about 40 people.

“I think we are introducing more diversity in the community,” Cho said. “That was something we felt we could add.”

Diners can choose different proteins — chicken, beef, tofu and shrimp — and spice level.

Those who can handle very hot, spicy meals can venture to try “dim mak” level spiciness. It translates to “death touch” in English and is a phrase used in martial arts to refer to strikes that could be lethal. They also serve mild, medium and hot FOOD.

The space has changed a lot since it was American Street Food Eatery, which closed.

“We gutted everything and removed walls,” Cho said.

Customers can watch as they cook up dishes in woks and other equipment. They installed a new kitchen behind the front counter that is open to the dining room.

“It’s nice to see. Cooking on a wok is more interesting than cooking on a grill,” Cho said.

He said all their food and sauces are cooked in-house from scratch.

“Nothing is going to be out of the box,” he said.

The eatery will also offer carry-out.

“We hope to add delivery in the future. We’ll decide when we have a better feel of Brighton and the demand,” Cho said.

He said the menu is “our take on Thai food.”

They cook up popular Thai dishes that are familiar to American diners, like Pad Thai, noodle dishes and stir fry.

“If you went to Thailand, they wouldn’t say it’s the most authentic, but it will be for the masses,” Cho said.

Hang, Cho and Kim met as students at Michigan State University.

In 2005, they opened their first No Thai! location on S. University Avenue in Ann Arbor close to the campus of the University of Michigan. Since then, they have opened additional locations on Main Street, Plymouth Road and in the Kerrytown neighborhood in Ann Arbor. Their East Lansing location is on Grand River Avenue near the campus of Michigan State University.

Yang said he married into the business. His wife, Sharry, is Hang’s younger sister.

Their mother, Mee Hang, started Thai Express in Brighton, which the family still runs. When Yang and his wife were living in Minneapolis-Saint Paul, they would come for family visits and “free food,” he said, laughing.

They also helped out at Thai Express when they were short staffed.

Last year, they packed up and moved with their three young children to Brighton.

Cho said, as they worked on getting the eatery ready to open, people stopped by to see when the restaurant would open.

“Everyone has been welcoming us to Brighton,” he said. “Maybe it will be something new for people.”

After opening day, the restaurant’s regular hours will be 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 9:30 p.m. Sunday.

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