First Look: Rickshaw Thai Street Food in Alpharetta aims for authentic

Rickshaw Thai Street Food, now open in Alpharetta, has a menu that includes (from left) Street Basil Chicken, Yum Woon Sen and Shrimp Pad Thai. Shown with them is a Thai on Fire cocktail. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

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Rickshaw Thai Street Food, now open in Alpharetta, has a menu that includes (from left) Street Basil Chicken, Yum Woon Sen and Shrimp Pad Thai. Shown with them is a Thai on Fire cocktail. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Credit: Mia Yakel

Paul Yuwachit, the co-owner of EAV Thai and Sushi in East Atlanta, and a partner in Sweet Octopus in Duluth, recently opened Rickshaw Thai Street Food on Alpharetta Highway in Alpharetta.

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Rickshaw Thai Street Food is open for lunch and dinner. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Rickshaw Thai Street Food is open for lunch and dinner. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

caption arrowCaption
Rickshaw Thai Street Food is open for lunch and dinner. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Credit: Mia Yakel

Previously home to Twisted Taco, the two-story, free-standing space features a bar, main dining room, small private dining room, and patio on the first floor. And to mark the spot, there’s a rickshaw out front, near the parking lot. Up a flight of stairs, there’s a covered outdoor deck with a louvered roof and a small service bar.

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Rickshaw Thai Street Food has a rickshaw out front. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Rickshaw Thai Street Food has a rickshaw out front. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

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Rickshaw Thai Street Food has a rickshaw out front. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Credit: Mia Yakel

“We upgraded the kitchen, and changed quite a few things,” Yuwachit said during a visit to Rickshaw last week. “We can do parties upstairs, with up to 25 or 30 people, and close it up if it’s raining. But right now, we’re only doing that on the weekends, and for special occasions like a birthday party.”

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Rickshaw Thai Street Food executive chef Narabhatra Bimbameka (Zea), co-owner Paul Yuwachit, and bar manager and interior designer Tatiana Barburasi. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Rickshaw Thai Street Food executive chef Narabhatra Bimbameka (Zea), co-owner Paul Yuwachit, and bar manager and interior designer Tatiana Barburasi. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

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Rickshaw Thai Street Food executive chef Narabhatra Bimbameka (Zea), co-owner Paul Yuwachit, and bar manager and interior designer Tatiana Barburasi. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Credit: Mia Yakel

Rickshaw is open for lunch and dinner, with dishes inspired by Yuwachit’s fond family memories of Thai market favorites.

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Rickshaw Thai Street Food Yum Woon Sen, clear noodles mixed with ground chicken and shrimp in red onions, scallions, tomatoes, celery, peanuts and chile lime dressing. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Rickshaw Thai Street Food Yum Woon Sen, clear noodles mixed with ground chicken and shrimp in red onions, scallions, tomatoes, celery, peanuts and chile lime dressing. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

caption arrowCaption
Rickshaw Thai Street Food Yum Woon Sen, clear noodles mixed with ground chicken and shrimp in red onions, scallions, tomatoes, celery, peanuts and chile lime dressing. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Credit: Mia Yakel

That includes salads, such as Yum Woon Sen, with clear noodles mixed with ground chicken and shrimp in red onions, scallions, tomatoes, celery, peanuts and chile lime dressing. And Pad Thai, with shrimp, thin rice noodles, bean sprouts, green onions, and egg, stir-fried in tamarind sauce.

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Rickshaw Thai Street Food Pad Thai with shrimp, thin rice noodles, bean sprouts, green onions, and egg stir-fried in tamarind sauce. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Rickshaw Thai Street Food Pad Thai with shrimp, thin rice noodles, bean sprouts, green onions, and egg stir-fried in tamarind sauce. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

caption arrowCaption
Rickshaw Thai Street Food Pad Thai with shrimp, thin rice noodles, bean sprouts, green onions, and egg stir-fried in tamarind sauce. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Credit: Mia Yakel

“We try to be very authentic, with dishes I like to eat in Thailand,” Yuwachit said. “But we are in Alpharetta, so it’s a more upscale setting. A lot of people now have eaten Thai food and have been to Thailand, so they’re very educated about the food. They don’t want American Thai.”

Another example of that is Rickshaw’s Street Basil Chicken, with spiced ground chicken, diced bell peppers and onions, and fresh basil, served with rice topped with a fried egg.

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Rickshaw Thai Street Food Street Basil Chicken with diced bell peppers and onions, and fresh basil, served with a fried egg. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Rickshaw Thai Street Food Street Basil Chicken with diced bell peppers and onions, and fresh basil, served with a fried egg. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

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Rickshaw Thai Street Food Street Basil Chicken with diced bell peppers and onions, and fresh basil, served with a fried egg. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Credit: Mia Yakel

“Not many people are doing it, the ground chicken with the fried egg, but it’s the most popular street food in Thailand,” Yuwachit said. “The way we make Pad Thai is also different, with everything original from Thailand. What we want is authentic and really high quality.

“What I mean by street food is that the ingredients are slightly different. American style uses regular sugar. We use palm sugar, we squeeze fresh limes, and things like that. It costs more. But it’s more flavorful. And that’s what we want to bring.”

In addition to beer and wine, the bar offers Thai-influenced specialty cocktails, such as the margarita-like Thai on Fire, with Thai pepper-infused silver tequila, lime, agave, basil, and a salted rim. The lighter Rama Spritz is mixed with Aperol, lemon, prosecco and rosemary. And there’s a frozen drink machine for turning out the Coconut Freeze, with Bacardi coconut rum, pineapple and lime.

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Rickshaw Thai Street Food Thai on Fire cocktail with Thai pepper-infused silver tequila, lime, agave, and basil. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Rickshaw Thai Street Food Thai on Fire cocktail with Thai pepper-infused silver tequila, lime, agave, and basil. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

caption arrowCaption
Rickshaw Thai Street Food Thai on Fire cocktail with Thai pepper-infused silver tequila, lime, agave, and basil. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Credit: Mia Yakel

“We didn’t want to have just beer and wine,” Yuwachit said. ”We had help coming up with some craft cocktails, and instead of a frozen margarita, we have the Coconut Freeze. That’s very common in Thailand now.”

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Rickshaw Thai Street Food patio. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Rickshaw Thai Street Food patio. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

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Rickshaw Thai Street Food patio. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Credit: Mia Yakel

Speaking a bit about his backstory, Yuwachit said he grew up in Atlanta, and after graduating from high school, he went to college on a tennis scholarship, before getting into the restaurant business at a fairly young age.

“I was 22 or 23, I guess. I didn’t really know anything about restaurants, but I opened a restaurant,” he said, laughing. “There were very few Thai restaurants in the day. I worked for Surin in Virginia-Highland for a little bit, when I was in high school. And my uncle was a chef, and opened a Thai restaurant in Sandy Springs.

“I’ve had Thai and Sushi for 20 years, since 2001. That was my first restaurant, but it’s really an American-type restaurant. And now Sweet Octopus is doing so well that we’re doing another one in downtown Lawrenceville.”

DINING OUT

Rickshaw Thai Street Food

11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5-9 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays; 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5-10 p.m. Fridays; 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturdays; 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Sundays.

1495 Alpharetta Highway, Alpharetta. 770-613-3972, rickshawatl.com.

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