Bahn Mai Thai is independently owned and operated by Bob and Judy Silva located in Washington Township since 2005. Chef Bob was born Dumnuan Nahiran in Bahn Mai, Thailand. As an Air Force kid, he moved every 4 years, living in exotic countries such as Japan and the Philippines. He learned his fabulous cooking technique, which he describes as country Thai from his mother who ran a roadside stand outside of the Taklee and Utapao Airforce Bases in Thailand during the Vietnam War.
Together he and wife, Judy, bring an American flair to the Thai dining experience with a creative fusion of east meets western cuisine with award-winning dishes like Roasted Garlic and Chive Rangoons, winner for best use of Garlic at the Cox Arboretum Garlic Fest in 2008 pictured here and Twice Cooked Fish-distinctly flavored with authentic ingredients, like kaffir lime leaves.
In 2008 Bahn Mai was named to the Dayton Daily News Hidden Gems list.
And now the ten questions:
What is your favorite ingredient to cook with?
I love basil because it’s the key ingredient in my favorite dish, Pad Kapow Basil Stir Fry.
(Special Bonus- Chef Bob’s Pak Kapow recipe is included at the end of this post.)
What ingredient do you dread?
Seafood. There are a couple of dishes & appetizers that I make well and that are popular at the restaurant, but in general I just don’t like preparing it.
What’s your favorite dish to make?
Basil Stir Fry!! I eat this everywhere I go when I’m in Thailand.
What’s your favorite pig out food?
Mexican! Everything goes with a margarita…
What restaurant, other than your own do you like to dine at in the Miami Valley?
What’s your best advice for home chefs?
Never stop practicing and don’t be afraid to experiment with different foods and cooking methods.
If you could invite any 4 guests to a dinner party who would they be and why?
1. Anne Heller (former food critic from Dayton Daily News). She loved my Thai style of country cooking.
2. Ming Tsai (TV food star, ex-Daytonian). Then I hope he would see what great food and chefs we have here at home.
3. My wife and her friends. Who doesn’t want to cook for a bunch of beautiful women?
4. Anyone solely stuck on Chinese food. We need to expand their horizons!
Who do you look up to in the industry and why?
TV celebrity chefs – They have great skill, showmanship, and personality. They have the opportunity to reach so many people and expose them to new cultures, food and cooking techniques that they may have otherwise not known about.
What do you do in the Miami Valley on a day off?
I dine at other restaurants in between visiting music stores and pawnshops, searching for that ever-elusive guitar that will make me sound like Van Halen!
Share a kitchen disaster, lucky break or other interesting story:
My kitchen disaster happened during my first ever, live cooking event on Channel 22/45, local Dayton morning news.
I had been waiting patiently for about 20 minutes with my pan on the stove (and the heat on because I could go live any minute). The camera panned my way as the morning anchors Nathan and Asia began to introduce me and the dish I was about to cook. I poured the cooking oil into the hot pan and then….Poof!! The pan caught fire! Smoke was billowing everywhere as the stunned anchors quickly recovered with jokes, “Our station is so hot we’re on fire!” I was able to put out the flames and fan away the smoke even though I was stunned myself.
After regaining a bit of composure, I attempted to cook again. In went the oil and….Poof! Fire and smoke again!!! I wanted to run and hide but thanks to the witty anchors we all made a joke of it and pushed on. I cooked and the camera was able to catch me stirring up stuff, despite the smoky scene….
What became of this? Lots of phone calls to my house, something to add to the station’s blooper reel and most of all a great story to tell people…and video evidence to prove it.
Bahn Mai Thai Cafe is located at 725 Lyons Road in Centerville
(in the same shopping center as Arrow Wine behind Sam’s on 725)
You can visit them for lunch Mon – Fri from 11-2:30pm and dinner Mon – Thurs 5-9pm, and Fri & Sat 5-9:30pm. They are closed on Sunday. Reservations are not required, but can be made at 937.435.0624.
Pad Kapow (Chicken and Basil Stir Fry)
3 T vegetable or canola oil
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1-5 Thai chili peppers, minced
(the number of peppers depends on your spice level)
7 ounces of chicken (sliced or minced)
1/2 small yellow onion, sliced
1/2 small green bell pepper, sliced
1/2 small red bell pepper, sliced
2 T of oyster sauce
2 T of Golden Mountain brand seasoning sauce
½ T of fish sauce
1 t of white pepper
2 t sugar
1/2 cup of holy basil
Heat frying pan to medium high heat, add vegetable or canola oil. Sauté garlic and Thai chili peppers together, taking care not to let the garlic burn. Add chicken and stir fry, constantly stir the contents around to avoid burning. When chicken looks half cooked add the onions and bell peppers, stir. Add Oyster and Golden Mountain sauces, stir. Add fish sauce, white pepper, sugar, stir. Add he basil leaves and give it a quick stir fry, remove from heat and serve with jasmine scented steamed rice.