R.I.P., Mother of Thai Food
Chef Annie Wong, 71, died last weekend in Bangkok, Thailand, due to complications from a stroke. Wong was known as the “mother of Thai food in Dallas” and “the noodle queen” on account of her uncanny ability to merge Asian culinary traditions with American sensibilities.
Such craft spawned two Thai Lanna restaurants and the Star of Siam restaurant in Dallas in the 1980s and early 1990s, while she nurtured Thai Cuisine, Thai Hut and Krisda's as a chef and consultant. But perhaps she is best known for her work with former Deep Ellum club owner Jeffrey Yarbrough, who founded with Wong the noodle fusion restaurant Liberty -- Dallas’ first pan Asian noodle house when it opened in 1997 -- just off Lower Greenville. Yarbrough later moved Liberty from lower Greenville to Inwood Road and Lovers Lane before closing it in late 2003.
Wong’s distinctive culinary touch was forged through years of studying and cooking the cuisines from all of the countries surrounding her native Thailand. Originally a home economics teacher, Wong moved to California in the early '70s, opening her first restaurant in 1971. She would go on to launch some 14 restaurants in California and Dallas. May her spices of life be her peaceful rest. --Mark Stuertz