A few months ago, owner-cook Shawn Ngo changed the space from the Twin Dragon Restaurant (which served Chinese and Vietnamese dishes) to Taste of Thai, which serves Chinese and Thai cuisine. Ngo, who has worked for Ann Liberda's Thai Place restaurants (among others), closed for a few weeks "to clean the place up," he says, though I noticed that the lace curtains and the baby-blue paint job remain. So does former Twin Dragon waitress Ney, who assured me that the food was "much better now."
I couldn't make my own judgment based on the $5.95 lunch buffet, which had all the usual Chinese-American suspects (vegetable lo mein, General Tso's chicken, broccoli beef, crab Rangoon) and a few half-hearted Thai-inspired offerings, such as a lemon-grass chicken with too much curry, a bland shrimp pad thai and an unexciting tom yum soup. Next time, I'll order off the menu.
Another new restaurant actually does capture the zany old "International House of ..." concept: Jenny's Place (7100 Wornall Road), with its eclectic menu of Italian-American pasta dishes and pizza, Thai pork medallions, Jamaican jerk chicken, Chinese pot stickers and all-American chicken and dumplings.
Owners Jenny Villhauer and Victor Almo have turned a former retail space (most recently Needham Floral) into a cheery neighborhood bistro with shiny wooden floors, animal-print fabrics, paper light fixtures, Tuscan pottery and a giant oil portrait of a woman who looks exactly like Knots Landing actress Donna Mills. The waitress told me that the painting depicts Jenny, the owner.
This was the same waitress who served me a Philly cheese-steak sandwich and then informed me, with great formality, that I had two chip options to accompany my lunch. "We have," she said, "those puffy Cheetos or barbecue-flavored Frito-Lay chips. Or cole slaw, if you prefer."
Was I impressed! I adore elegance at any level, so I smoothed out my paper napkin, took a sip of tea from my plastic tumbler and said, "Cole slaw, si vous seriez si aimable."
You know, international-like.