Celebrate Thai New Year at Songkran Thai

The dancers from Wat Buddhavas of Houston will perform for diners during the Songkran Festival.
The dancers from Wat Buddhavas of Houston will perform for diners during the Songkran Festival. Photo courtesy of Songkran Thai Kitchen

April 13 marks the beginning of Songkran or the Thai New Year, which is also known as the annual water festival.

In Thailand, the water play is significant; people gather along the streets, in villages and parks to shoot water guns and throw water on family, friends and loved ones to help "cleanse" the past year's luck. This year is especially important to the Thai people because they are also celebrating the crowning of a new King, Maha Vajiralongkorn, who is the tenth king of Thailand.

Both Songkran Thai Kitchen at Uptown Park and Songkran Thai Grill in Sugar Land Town Square will celebrate the Thai New Year festival from Thursday, April 13, through Sunday, April 16, with two special dishes, authentic Thai music and a traditional water ceremony to symbolize the washing away of the old year.

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The Guay-Teaw Ped is a traditional duck noodle soup that is only available during the Songkran Festival.
Photo courtesy of Songkran Thai Kitchen

platter, which is an assortment of green papaya salad with dried shrimp, peanuts, Thai chile and lime and beef satay with chile tamarind dipping sauce and sticky rice, is one of the specials available during the four-day celebration. The other dish is called guay-teaw ped, a yaowaraj braised duck served with rice noodles, Asian vegetables, Thai herb broth and chile garlic vinegar. The duck is prepared in a fashion similar to the Chinese style of barbecue roasting. Customers can order these special dishes, along with regular menu items, throughout the festivities. Also available only during this time is a green Thai tea, a delicious adaptation of the popular orange-y sweet and creamy Thai tea made with green tea.

Songkran Thai Kitchen in Uptown Park will also have special Thai dance performances with dancers from Wat Buddhavas of Houston.

Chef and owner Junnajet "Jett" Hurapan explained what Songkran means to him and his restaurant, falling in line with the principles of washing away the old is celebrating new beginnings. Jett mentioned that he's got new projects on the horizon, as well as news to share about long-awaited NextSeed project The Sugar Refinery.

"I believe in feng shui and am very superstitious," said Chef Jett. "Opening by mid-April is important to me, so we will try to have The Sugar Refinery ready by April 15."

The prohibition-era speakeasy located in Sugar Land Town Square was anticipated to open in January of this year, but an update provided earlier this month on the NextSeed site informed investors that "unexpected delays" have pushed the opening back to sometime in April.

The Sugar Refinery will be participating in the Sugar Land Saint Arnold's Pub Crawl event this coming Saturday, April 1, from 2 to 6 p.m.

In the not so distant future are plans for Songkran Thai Express, a more fast-casual version of Songkran Thai. Chef Jett thinks the downtown tunnel outpost at 919 Milam may be ready by July of this year.

Songkran Thai Kitchen, Uptown Park
1101-08 Uptown Park Boulevard, 713-993-9096

Songkran Thai Grill, Sugar Land Town Square
2258 Texas Drive, 281-670-8525
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Cuc Lam is a freelance food writer for the Houston Press and local pop-up chef. She enjoys teaching cooking classes and hosting dinner parties when she is not writing.