Piazza Seafood Presents: Café Equator, Metairie, La.
What began as a family-owned restaurant venture on the Northshore, a quaint neighborhood across Lake Ponchatrain outside of New Orleans, turned into a cultural haven for the Thai community in Metairie. Off a main street known for Mardi Gras parades and its large shopping mall sits Café Equator, an authentic Thai restaurant serving up some phenomenal, seafood-forward dishes.
First Generation Flavor
Being first generation Thai-American, Praphim (Pim) Rungruang, co-owner/chef at Cafe Equator, along with her husband and mother-in-law, wanted a restaurant that spoke to their culture.
“Yes, [it’s] very important,” says Pim when asked if she thought bringing the cuisine was important to the New Orleans culinary cultural makeup.
Arriving in the New Orleans area between the mid-1980s and early 1990s, the family saw an opportunity to bring family-style dining, featuring authentic Thai cuisine to the community. Typhoon, renamed Café Equator, was the first restaurant vision and opened in the Northshore community of Mandeville. After working with their partners, the family opened their doors in Metairie in 2002.
“Same menu, same recipes,” affirms Pim.
What you see in the Café Equator kitchen is opposite of what Pim likes to cook at home.
“Thai spicy grilled chicken, similar to a rotisserie chicken in America but, Thai style,” shares Pim.
Instead, Café Equator’s most popular dishes have seafood as the star.
The fan favorite appetizer, Blanket Shrimp, are large shrimp wrapped in rice paper, fried and served with a sweet, plum sauce. The crispness of the rice paper paired with the succulence of the shrimp, makes this starter a go to for many. Tom Yum Goong, a spicy shrimp soup, is another sought after menu item. Think a traditional hot and sour soup with sweet shrimp in a lemongrass, citrus-flavored stock. Most noteworthy, the popularized Pad Thai is also on the menu. A traditional preparing of the dish has rice noodles sautéed with bean sprouts, green onions and egg. Cafe Equator brings a twist with their signature sauce, a sweet and spicy tamarind. In addition, a seafood medley showcasing scallops, shrimp and calamari can be found in this top pick.
An Ideal Relationship
Being a family owned and operated business as well, Piazza Seafood understands how important the family aspect of the business is to the core of its operations.
“[They] check on us everyday,” Pim explains in what sets Piazza Seafood apart. “If we [are] busy doing something else we may forget.”
Pim adds that the consistent quality of seafood Piazza offers and the friendly staff is what keeps the family ordering multiple times a week.
More Soup Please
In the future, Pim says she hopes to add a new noodle soup dish.
“We just haven’t found the right bowl yet,” says Pim jokingly.
It is no wonder why the thought out flavors, matched with the right product has made Café Equator a top choice for diners looking for an authentic Thai meal in Metairie.
Big thanks to Pim, for sharing her family’s restaurant with us.
Stay tuned for other restaurant features from Piazza Seafood Presents.
Ready to try your hand at making one of our featured seafood dishes? You are in luck! Fresh and frozen seafood can be ordered directly from Piazza Seafood. If you are a business looking to buy from us, please don’t hesitate to enter in your information or call us directly at 504-734-0012.