Try a Taste of Thailand
The Short Course
To Avoid a Wait: Visit during an off-peak time or order takeout.
Noise Level: Average.
Bathroom Amenities: Clean.
High Chairs: Yes.
Kids Menu: No.
Anything Healthy for Kids: Absolutely!
Food Allergy Concerns: Speak with your server about specific allergy concerns.
Nestled in a strip mall on the north end of Findlay lies a jewel. With its humble location and simple red and white sign, Jack & Jin’s Thai Restaurant could easily be overlooked. However, this small restaurant offers an exotic and extensive menu that will astonish and delight your taste buds. One evening, as a summer night descended upon us, my family set out to explore the flavors and spices of Thailand.
It was the end of a family vacation and this mama was in no mood to cook (and neither was my husband Jeremy). The temperature was soaring so firing up the oven or standing over the stove sounded wholly unappealing. And after three days traipsing around Ohio, this family of homebodies just needed to be home. Seeking the glorious convenience of take out, we pulled up Jack & Jin’s menu online and set out to enjoy the delicacies of Thailand from the comfort of our own home.
Having tried Thai food over the years, Jeremy and I had a general idea of dishes to order, with pad thai and green curry topping the list. Jack & Jin’s menu outlined the categories to choose from including basics, along with soups, noodles, stir fry, Thai curry, fried rice and house specialties. Thai food is easy to customize with choices of protein source (meat, seafood, tofu), type of rice, and spice level. And although there isn’t a children’s menu, with so many appetizers, several grilled dishes and a few familiar items, Jack & Jin’s makes trying Thai food lots of fun for families! Egg rolls, potstickers, wontons, satay (skewers of pork or chicken), stir fry and fried rice are all typically kid-friendly. We opted for three orders of the chicken satay appetizer, crab rangoon, chicken fried rice, and egg noodles with chicken to round out our meal. In an effort to get Mae, our five-year-old, to try everything, we ordered no spice (on their scale of 1-5, we ordered a zero).
Modest interior, outstanding food
Although we chose to eat at home, I was still eager to check out Jack & Jin’s interior. The modest exterior (classic strip mall!) opens into a simple yet attractive restaurant. Comfy booths line the left wall while several tables dot the rest of the interior. The overall clean, minimalist look is brightened by a few colorful accents that line the walls including brilliantly-colored tapestries from Thailand. The overall effect is airy and inviting. (However, the limited seating could make visiting with a herd of children tricky. Perhaps better to visit during an off-peak time or opt for take-out!)
Upon arriving home, we eagerly dug into the food. Our observant eight-year-old, Josephine, panicked when she saw the corners of two Styrofoam containers ripped off. Jeremy quickly assured her that it was purposefully done to vent the steam and keep our food crispy but hot. It worked. The crab rangoon–little ravioli-like delicacies–maintained their crunchy exterior while the creamy filling remained piping hot.
Leland (our almost-ten-year-old) and Joey practically fought over the crab rangoons while Mae preferred the chicken satay. Each satay appetizer came with three sticks of skewered chicken. The generous portion featured a slightly spicy flavor and was served with a delicious peanut dipping sauce (which tones down the spiciness!). All three kiddos devoured their satays while also sampling the four main dishes – egg noodles, pad thai, fried rice and green curry.
Every dish was a winner
As we scooped small portions of the main dishes onto the kids plates, we recited our family’s food directive, yet again: “you don’t have to like it, you just have to try it.” Thankfully, the kids don’t fight this rule nearly as much as they used to. And as usual, our daring Leland was the first to eagerly try the Thai food. With one bite, he declared his love for the fried rice and quickly ate two more servings. Indeed, while I’ve never been a fan of fried rice, Jack & Jin’s offered a wholly different experience with nuanced flavor, loaded with veggies and tender chicken.
Joey didn’t care for the fried rice but eagerly ate the pad Thai–that famous Thai dish with noodles in a tangy sauce, garnished with ground peanuts and lime wedges (and for those who love a stronger peanut flavor, use Jeremy’s practice of ordering extra peanut sauce and mixing it in!). Pad Thai was my gateway dish to Thai food years ago, but I hadn’t really tried much else. The egg noodles and green curry had been sampled by my sister-in-law (a college student in NYC) during a visit to Findlay when she declared it amazing. So I was happy to dig into this new dish to discover how much flavor was in the greenish sauce.
The answer? A LOT! Creamy coconut milk blends with flavorful yet subtle basil and green chilies and a healthy kick of spice showcases the textures of the veggies, chicken, and rice. (Can’t handle much spice? Use more rice.) The last item I tried were the egg noodles which proved to be delicious. Bathed in a flavorful brown sauce, tender chicken and veggies vie for attention with the soft, almost chewy noodles. Technically I only had one helping of the egg noodles, but in reality, I kept stealing bites from the container throughout the rest of the meal! (Shhhh! Don’t tell the kids!)
An adventure in food
We began dinner weary and ready to veg out in front of the TV. After dinner, however, the kids started an impromptu dance party and we ended the evening laughing and joyful. I attribute part of that to filled bellies, but also to the excitement and delight of discovering new foods. Meals with children can be trying, but when the meal itself stimulates conversation and engages everyone’s curiosity, the meal becomes a shared adventure.