PETROLIA – A food truck serving delicious Thai and American fare in Petrolia is hard to miss, and it’s a shame if you do.
How did it happen to be parked here? It’s a story about the sweet, the hot and the sour in life.
Kantakan’s Thai Cuisine is parked just off State Highway 79 on the right side of the road if coming from Wichita Falls.
It should be reassuring to know that husband and wife Keith and Kantakan “Ray” Spearman have been working on spicing the food since the truck opened in January 2020.
There’s Hot Texas, and much higher on the Scoville scale for chili peppers, there’s Hot Thai.
“Thai chili is very, very spicy,” Ray said. “They come back and say, ‘I don’t want hot Thai anymore. “”
A scale of one to five ranging from “No Spice” to “Thai Hot” is on the food truck menu for reference. Right before Thai Hot comes “Hot !! Are you sure?”
Thai cuisine is a balance of sweet, spicy, and sour that varies by region, according to the Spearmans.
Whatever your preference, it’s worth the 30km drive for Ray’s peanut pad thai, crispy spring rolls, shrimp red curry, pork or chicken, a cup full of the sweetness of Thai tea. iced or Thai coffee – and more.
To add to their authentic dishes, the Spearmans grow vegetables, lemongrass, Thai basil and have a kaffir lime tree in their garden.
Kaffir lime provides leaves for panang, which is red curry.
The couple are semi-retired and the food truck is conveniently located near their home, just 79, Keith said.
“If she’s really busy, she’ll call me and I’ll come and help her for a while,” he said.
Kantakan’s Thai cuisine is open Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 4.30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Locals and passers-by stop to order from a varied menu.
It offers specialties such as chicken satay, pork wontons with fried rice, hot tea with ginger and honey, and vegetables sautéed on rice with a refreshing side of cucumber.
Also available are American dishes such as hot dogs, fries, pulled pork sandwiches, and prawn baskets.
During one of Ray’s recent breaks, she sat down with her husband and served a bold Vietnamese coffee with sweetness at the bottom, ready to be stirred in small glass cups.
She came from Bangkok, 10.7 million people, to live in Petrolia, 540 people, about seven years ago.
But their story begins before that.
He is originally from Wichitan and has had a career in managing dry docks for the repair of ships that have taken him all over the world.
She owns a small business three times. She initially sold clothes, but found that owning a cafe worked much better in Bangkok.
While on a project there, Keith met Ray and fell in love with his beautiful smile at the restaurant.
Neither was a spring chicken, but they knew what they wanted: each other. It did not happen overnight.
The Spearmans tried for three years to get a US visa for Ray. They filled out countless documents and fought against bureaucracy.
They are still puzzled as to why the US government has opposed love for so long.
“She had her own house. She had a small restaurant. She was financially secure, “Keith said.” I think they are worried about people who were not financially secure entering and staying illegally. “
When the battle was won, Ray left Thailand with its beaches, beautiful scenery, and renowned cuisine and hospitality.
She has made her home on the prairie amidst the blue caps and the great blue sky of the friendly little town of Texas.
A highlight of her move was being a “yai” or grandmother to her stepdaughter Gayle Edwards’ children.
“Ray had no children and to be able to have the grandchildren. . . has been really good for her, ”Keith said.
But Ray was not done with the US government.
She studied for two years to become a U.S. citizen and was on the verge of doing so when the COVID-19 pandemic struck in March 2020.
Keith said it took about six months for officials to figure out how to swear in new citizens.
“We ended up driving all the way to Dallas. We tuned our car stereo to a certain station,” he said. “They were sworn in, in the car above the radio station. A guy at the window gave us our papers and we left.”
The couple usually return to Thailand once a year to see their family, but they haven’t been able to do so since the pandemic.
It might be a consolation to Ray that she managed to find a community of Thais who also settle in the Rolling Plains.
“A lot of Thais are here in Wichita Falls,” she said.
When Ray saw kaffir lime trees for sale at Lowe’s, she called and spread the word.
“Next thing you know, those Thai ladies were there. . . just load the trees, ”Keith said.
They cleaned them because sometimes a kaffir lime tree is just what it takes for a house on the prairie.
Trish Choate, corporate watch reporter for The Times Record News, covers education, the courts, breaking news, politics and more. Contact Trish with news advice at [email protected] His Twitter handle is @Trishadia.