By Greg Smith, Staff Writer
A reliable gauge of a restaurant’s quality is whether the owner frequents the establishment himself or not. There’s a fine line between simply being proud of your food and absolutely loving it yourself. Owner of Gindi Thai Eric Sansangasakun finds himself in the latter camp, sampling dishes up to six times a week. When he’s not eating there, he’s visiting the competition, ensuring that Gindi Thai maintains its position as the top spot in Thai cuisine for the foreseeable future.
Refreshing too is the pride and comfort he displays when watching a customer partake in one of his creations: authentic Thai dishes coupled with modern, Western flourishes. For example, the freshly prepared Mango Avocado Shrimp Salad — almost too beautiful to eat — is unique for its inclusion of the avocado. Avocados aren’t typically found in Thailand, but Sansangasakun knew that this particular taste would fill out and compliment the other parts, contributing to the robust, delicious whole. It is this respect for the past while simultaneously forging a new, hip identity that has made Gindi Thai the premiere hotspot — Asian or otherwise — for five years and counting. It’s also made it the go-to in catering for television and movie sets. The creativity and imagination Sansangasakun puts into each dish makes a strong case for his distinct artistic vision.
Stepping inside from the bustle of the Burbank Media District, one is transported to a classy, ultra-modern restaurant where the clientele ranges from businessmen and women to actors and other local artists. Stuffy it is not, however, pulling off the dual distinction of being an establishment that is at once both classy and comfortable. The service is top-notch; the staff is warm and attentive while maintaining an infectious, almost Zen-like state of tranquility. Many of the customers appear to be on a first-name basis with the wait staff that includes Anthony, a stoic bartender who seems to know everyone’s drink order.
A full bar is oftentimes uncommon in Asian restaurants, as is the presence of both sushi and Thai food. The Chilean Sea Bass with Tamarind Sauce is best savored, elegantly displayed on a bed of string beans and drizzled with the subtle sweetness of the fruity sauce. The Dragon Roll contains a zesty mix of shrimp tempura, unagi, avocado and dried bonito that certainly delights the taste buds. Both go excellently with the exotic, Asian-inspired mojito. The wide-ranging menu ensures that no matter a customer’s personal preference or diet, they will surely be able to find something to their liking. A healthy menu is very important to Sansangasakun:
“Thai food is known to be flavorful, whether it be spicy, sweet, juicy, etc. Taste will always come first, but health is a very close second here. If each bite bursts with flavor, the thinking goes that you won’t have to eat as much to be satisfied. Generally speaking, Thai and sushi are known to be healthy as well. If the food is bland, though, it is proven that people will eat more to compensate for the lack of flavor. Here we focus on taste, so a little goes a long way.”
That definitely doesn’t mean they skimp on the portions, but rather, there’s a definite possibility you’ll be taking leftovers home.
Gindi Thai is located at 4017 W. Riverside Dr. in Burbank. They deliver and cater. To make reservations, call (818) 567-1221 or visit www.gindithai.com.
The cover picture was produced by James Sansangasakun.