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A sneak peak of Cwmbran’s newest food business: Homemade Thai food by Joy Bowen

a woman holding up a thai meal
Joy Bowen holds one of her homemade meals (Photo: Andrew Bowen)

Thai to Try is Cwmbran’s newest homemade food business and Cwmbran Life had the chance to try out its menu before it was launched to the public.

I used the word homemade correctly in that opening sentence. The chef is Joy Bowen and every meal is made fresh in the kitchen of her house in Pontrhydyrun. She grew up in Nong Khai, north east Thailand, and moved to Wales 18 years ago where she lives with her husband, Andrew. Last week, my wife and I sat in her dining room, as the final details of the menu were being finalised. In fact, I saw an A4 pad of paper with handwritten notes of how the menu would be structured before it was designed. Scroll down this review to see the final menu and prices, along with a gallery of my photos. We were invited to their home as friends, it’s not a restaurant of course, and this was a chance to see what takeaway customers could order when it ‘opens’. Her kitchen has been visited by an officer from the council’s environmental health team.

She works in a care home so it’s a business that will fit around her shift pattern. Orders can be placed via Facebook messenger to Joy or Andrew Bowen and must be paid for before an order is accepted. While bringing us various items from the menu, we were told that orders are taken the day before they will be ready for collection from their home. This is to ensure she knows exactly how many meals to prepare for that evening and can buy the right amount of fresh ingredients each day.

spring rolls and chicken bread on a plate
Spring rolls, chicken bread and homemade sweet chilli sauce (Photo: Cwmbran Life)

It was a real treat to sit at the table and chat, listen, watch and smell while the menu trial items were being cooked in the kitchen a couple of yards away. The first plate that arrived was chicken bread and spring rolls, with homemade (of course!) sweet chilli sauce. I was honest with the chef, and told her I had never even heard of chicken bread before, let alone tried it. Cracking start. Over the next hour, we were treated to plate after plate of delicious food. All the meals came with fresh vegetables and herbs on the side. We had lettuce wraps to use to pack with beef with red curry paste. A nice mix of cool and warm. Plus coriander, mint, lemongrass and spring onions, alongside portions of chicken wings, chicken green curry and a belly pork salad. My mouth and taste buds went through a whole array of feelings from spicy to hot to cool and fresh.

And finally, we were given a bowl of sticky rice and shown how to grab a pile with our fingers, roll it together and use it to mop up sauces from our plates. And just like the chicken bread, it was another first for me. Sticky rice does exactly that, it sticks together to make it into a ball so we could make the most of the delicious sauces on our plates. Thai to Try is a really interesting business model. If you love making food, you don’t need to do it seven days a week. Choose your opening days around your other commitments, take all orders in advance, and stop if you reach capacity.

Thanks to Joy and Andrew for the kind invite into your home. I’ll never read the word ‘homemade’ on a restaurant menu in the same way again.

Chicken wings in chilli paste with spring onion and sesame seeds
Chicken wings in chilli paste with spring onion and sesame seeds Chicken green curry

Dates available this week

This week Joy has announced on Facebook that meals will be available for collection on Friday 13, Sat 14, and Sunday 15 October, so orders for either day must be placed, agreed and paid for at least a day before. Follow her on Facebook for future dates.

Thai to Try menu

a thai food menu a thai food menu

Photo gallery

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A sneak peak of Cwmbran’s newest food business: Homemade Thai food by Joy Bowen