To find one of Gibson County’s best kept secrets, travel along County Road 800 S. in Fort Branch, Indiana, just off of U.S. Highway 41, and cross over the railroad tracks. Make a right onto S. McCreary Street and drive down the road to Thai Chow, one of the Tri-State’s most popular Thai restaurants nestled in a small building you may miss if you don’t know what you’re looking for.
Owner and cook Wan Reinhart has served dishes from a little kitchen at the back of her restaurant since 1990. A native of Thailand, Reinhart met her husband Robert during the Vietnam War while she worked as a beautician. When the couple moved to Gibson County in 1972, she decided to give cooking her own food a try.
“I didn’t cook in Thailand,” she says. “I didn’t go to school. I eat. When you eat, you know what tastes good. That’s what you learn from.”
Though she cooks the majority of the dishes, Reinhart does have help from her grandson, Corey Hooker, 26, who has been in the kitchen with his grandmother since he was very young. Her restaurant holds around 40 people at a time, but many customers call their orders in ahead for take out.
“I don’t worry about when I go to Thailand for two months — all my customers come back to me,” she says. “I don’t need to advertise. I don’t need it.”
Reinhart says one of her most popular dishes is the kratiem prigthai, or garlic chicken, which is served with green peppers and onions with steamed or brown rice. “People go crazy for it,” she says with a laugh.
Her personal favorite is the pad prik dish, which can be served with beef, pork, or chicken in green peppers, onions, and basil with a choice of rice. Reinhart says she prefers adding lots of basil to the dish and chooses beef or chicken to add to her plate. She also enjoys a variety of Thai salads with no meat.
“One veggie doesn’t taste good,” she says, “But put a lot together and it’s good.”
The biggest tip she has for enjoying what Thai Chow has to offer is patience. As she cooks only one dish at a time at the restaurant, Reinhart says good food takes a little time to make.
“When people come back, I know they like my food,” she says with a smile. “They are family. I see my family here.”
For more information about Thai Chow, call 812-753-3878 or visit facebook.com/pages/Thai-Chow/138164102871849.