Thai Lotus on Av. Paucarbamba brings authentic Thai cooking back to Cuenca

Apr 2, 2024 | 0 comments

In an effort to spread the word with Cuencanos about Thai cuisine, Dao and Randy Browning (left and center) recently appeared on the Cuenca television station Telerama. Dao presented several popular dishes while, Randy, who is fluent in Spanish, provided the commentary.

Although Cuenca is a long way from her native Thailand, Dao Browning’s work and passion remains the same: preparing and serving authentic Thai meals. Dao and her husband, Randy Browning, opened Thai Lotus restaurant on Av. Paucarbamba in September, a few months after they arrived in Cuenca.

The restaurant moved into space previously occupied by India Barbeque Palace, just west of Clinica Paucarbamba. Thai Lotus includes indoor seating as well as tables in the manicured garden in back.

The Thai Lotus Restaurant is located at 4-114 Av. Paucarbama, just west of the Clinica Paucarbama.

Although she grew up in northern Thailand, Dao’s first restaurant was near Pattaya, in the south, where she served both locals and tourists. “There’s a lot of regional variety in Thai dishes and because of her experience, Dao is familiar with most of them,” he said. “Working in a tourist area was good preparation for serving foreign residents in Cuenca since she’s familiar with their expectations.”

The Thai Lotus menu includes most of the Thai classics such as Pad Thai noodles, Ginger rice with curry chicken, sweet and sour stir fry and Tom Kha Coconut milk soup.

In addition to indoor seating, Thai Lotus offers outdoor dining in the back garden.

Among the appetizers are spring rolls, corn cakes and Krathong tong with pork. The offerings also include spicy soups and salads.

There are vegetarian and vegan dishes, as well, such as stir fry mixed vegetables with tofu and tofu can be substituted for meat in many of the dishes.

The full menu is posted on the restaurant’s Facebook page.

Pad Thai is always popular with customers.

If customers prefer a dish not included on the menu, mention it to the waiter and, most likely, Doa can prepare it.

An added touch to all Thai Lotus meals are Dao’s flower carvings from fruits and vegetables, delivered with each meal. She can also provide larger carvings by special order.

Low prices are one of the restaurant’s strong suits, with most entrees costing $10 or less.

An added bonus with all meals is Dao’s vegetable and fruit carvings.

In its first months of operation, Thai Lotus has served a mixed clientele of expats and Cuencanos, and the numbers continues to grow. “Most expats are familiar with the menu items but we sometimes need to provide guidance for Ecuadorians who may not be familiar with Thai cooking,” Randy says.

Fried rice in pineapple comes with a flourish.

In an effort to spread the word about Thai cuisine, Dao and Randy recently appeared on the Cuenca television station Telerama. Dao presented several popular dishes while, Randy, who is fluent in Spanish, provided the commentary.

“Many Ecuadorians are under the impression that all oriental food is the same, so we offer some background in Thai cuisine,” Randy says. Dao has also learned that the Ecuadorian palette is not accustomed to spicy food and has adjusted her cooking to their tastes, he adds. For expats, she can spice meals to order.

Masaman Curry is another Thai specialty.

After Dao and Randy met in Thailand, the couple’s journey to Cuenca took them through Sante Fe and Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Austin, Texas, before they made the decision to relocate to Ecuador. “I lived in Mexico for 20 years and have a great appreciation for the Latin culture and wanted to return to it,” Randy says. Since his work as a licensed clinical counselor is conducted mostly online, he was not restricted by geography.

The kitchen and service staff stands ready to serve you at Thai Lotus.

The couple has found a warm welcome in Cuenca, not just among their restaurant customers but with their neighbors as well. “They have been wonderful, checking in on us to make sure we have what we need and offering information about the neighborhood,” says Randy.

In response to the neighbor’s generosity, Dao and Randy have prepared meals with their new friends, introducing them to Thai cooking.
___________________

Thai Lotus’ Sticky Rice Mango.

Thai Lotus offers catering for events, parties, weddings, and more! Please allow at least 24 hours’ notice or call to discuss how best to proceed with your order. Orders for catering are available for pickup or delivery, but the staff cannot attend events or offer on-site service.

Thai Lotus Restaurant, 4-114 Av. Paucarbama (next to Clinica Paucarbama); Hours: 12 noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday – Sunday, closed Monday; tel. 099 565 9950; Facebook.

Photos by Randy Browning.

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