Guy Fieri visited The Wild Thaiger on Thomas Road and Central Avenue Friday for an episode of his Food Network show “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.”
The show, which Fieri and fans often shorten to “Triple D,” featured two of the restaurant’s dishes: pork and crab dumplings known as Dragon Eggz, and the Mu Yang — marinated pork skewers, coconut sticky rice and papaya salad.
Triple D has featured about 10 Phoenix restaurants since the show premiered in 2007. The Wild Thaiger Owner Olashawn Hasadinratana-Weaver said she was thrilled when she found out her restaurant would be involved. She said restaurants become much more popular with that kind of publicity.
“I was just beside myself. I was just screaming at the top of my lungs when I heard that I was gonna be able to get on the show,” she said. “He [Guy] does wonderful things for businesses like myself.”
She said she was determined to create a good experience for her customers when she opened the restaurant in 2003.
“I wanna make sure that when people come to dine in, they realize that we’re not just there to just make money,” she said.
Hasadinratana-Weaver previously worked for Nestle and the Culinary Institute of America in Northern California, but she said friends and family encouraged her to leave the corporate world to open her own restaurant.
“Cooking has always been part of my life, and it’s been my passion,” she explained.
After they moved back from Virginia, Hasadinratana-Weaver and her husband opened the restaurant. She said they chose to open it in Phoenix because it is an up-and-coming area that needed some culture. After owning the restaurant for more than 11 years, she opened a second location known as Suh Noi- The Little Thaiger in Scottsdale.
The name The Wild Thaiger came from Hasadinratana-Weaver wanting customers to go on “a culinary adventure,” she said during the episode.
Server Adella Hamilton said the cuisine differentiated The Wild Thaiger from other Thai restaurants, not just in customer experience.
“You can just tell that there is soul put into the food, that it’s not just something to fill your stomach,” Hamilton said. “You can just taste it.”
ASU freshman Jaycie Sauer said she tasted the soul in the food on her first visit to the restaurant in November. She said the food was worth the wait, which can be long. She said the restaurant’s location helps make the restaurant popular.
“I take the light rail, and I pass it, and it doesn’t really look like anything,” Sauer admitted.
But, despite outward appearances, the food made the place stand out to her after one visit.
“You can definitely tell it’s the place to go to,” she said.
Hasadinratana-Weaver and The Wild Thaiger give back to the community as well. The restaurant contributed to The Alzheimers Association, the Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS, UMOM and Dining Out for Life, and collaborated with other nearby businesses like Ide Mania salon.
Two years ago, the restaurant and salon raised over $1,400 for Western Resource Advocates.
Calling herself “a big karma person,” Hasadinratana-Weaver said, “I think, when I give out to the universe, when I try to do my best every day, something great’s gonna happen, and it does, so I think that this’ll be a big break for us; it’s just all good for everybody involved.”
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