Monday, January 30, 2012

Sweet Siam is bringing a unique take on Thai food to Lenexa

Sweet Siam opens in Lenexa.

Posted By on Mon, Jan 30, 2012 at 10:06 AM

The dining room at Sweet Siam.
  • The dining room at Sweet Siam.
Michael Brillhart is hoping to make Thai food a bit less intimidating with his new restaurant, Sweet Siam, which opened this past Friday in the former Mezzaluna space at 7809 Quivira in Lenexa.

"We want to have something for everyone, and that includes people that have been dragged to a Thai restaurant," Brillhart says.

For those unsure about what to order, Sweet Siam offers Thai BBQ chicken served with shrimp fried rice. Lovers of Thai food are more likely to be drawn in by the curries, pad Thai, pad prik or stir-fry dishes.

Michael Brillhart is excited to open a new restaurant in his hometown.
  • Michael Brillhart is excited to open a new restaurant in his hometown.
This is a homecoming for Brillhart, 38, who graduated 20 years ago from Shawnee Mission East High School.

"When I was a kid, 119th Street was just farmland. It's good to be home. I missed it," Brillhart says.

He left the University of Kansas to move south and help his uncle with the family restaurant business. He enrolled at the University of Alabama-Birmingham to finish pursuing a career as a certified public accountant, but the service industry was a better fit. He found his niche as a kitchen manager for Surin West and Harry & Sons (his uncle is the Harry), two Thai chains in Georgia and Alabama that are known on the Eastern Seaboard.

Brillhart signed a lease for the Mezzaluna space last August, and his brother-in-law, Dave Shukai, an architect with BRR Architecture, redesigned the space for him. His kitchen staff came to Lenexa with him from Alabama, and he estimates that his three chefs together have 50 years of cooking Thai cuisine between them.

The bar at Sweet Siam will catch your eye.
  • The bar at Sweet Siam will catch your eye.
He believes the $7 lunch-menu items (pad Thai, spicy eggplant noodle, catfish special and roasted duck with red curry) are big reasons that Sweet Siam will find success. He also points to several seafood options — a soft shell crab with fresh shrimp, asparagus and red and green peppers in a Thai sauce, and a pan-fried snapper with a light fish sauce, lime juice, ginger, red onion, red pepper, lemongrass and roasted cashews — among the dinner specials as things he hopes diners will appreciate.

"The sauce is delicious and it's low-fat. It's what I've been eating all week," Brillhart says.

Sweet Siam also has a full bar, but the draw may be the bar itself. Brillhart knocked out the wall that separated the bar from the rest of the space in Mezzaluna and had a showpiece bar top with color-changing LED lights installed.

"I'm hoping people come in here to have a good time and taste good food," Brillhart says.

He hopes to open additional locations, as well as potentially add a sushi bar to the restaurant on Quivira. Sweet Siam will be open seven days a week. The lunch hours are from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and dinner is from 4:30 to 9 p.m. (10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays). The phone number is 913-322-7285.

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