Hockaday Grad Nikky Phinyawatana Feeds Souls With Asian Mint

If you’re friends with Nikky, you know how she loves to take selfies with you. The thing about Nikky’s selfies, though, is that they are more about yourselfie than herselfie. She commemorates her deep gratitude for family, friends, and Mint Fanatics, the name she gives fans of her Asian Mint restaurant, by snapping photos and posting them online. This feeds her soul.

Nikky Phinyawatana (pronounced Pin-ya-wat-tah-nah) was born in Dallas but soon moved to Bangkok, Thailand, where she was raised by her American mother and Thai father. When she was 16, her parents sent her to boarding school at Hockaday, where she perfected her English through ESL (English as Second Language) and graduated in 1996. Opening a restaurant was not in her plan. There’s no back story about her learning to make Pad Thai in her grandma’s kitchen or attending an expensive culinary school. After college and a brief stint doing corporate marketing in Boston, she returned to Dallas. Her parents had returned, and she helped them with their food delivery business and waited tables in a Thai restaurant.

Fast forward to October 2019. Nikky has long-since paid off the maxed-out credit cards she used to start Asian Mint. She can hire contractors, electricians, and plumbers to build her restaurants rather than doing the work herself. Asian Mint just celebrated its 15th anniversary by opening a fourth restaurant. The Richardson location brings the number of employees to 80, all of whom share Nikky’s passion for inspiring others through food. Her menu has evolved slightly over the years. The original recipes created by Asian Mint’s first chef, a woman who was like a mother figure to Nikky and her husband, Tan, have modernized over time. One of the most significant changes to the recipes is the increase in heat. What used to be medium is now mild, and guests are requesting additional heat in their dishes. Global warming, indeed.

Nikky uses her Asian Mint platform to inspire and expand people’s hearts and minds and introduce them to Thai culture. Her Nikky Feeding Souls YouTube channel provides a video travelogue of her food-centric travels to Thailand, a tutorial, perhaps, for her upcoming journey she’s taking with a group on Nov. 6. The group will experience authentic Thai culture, eat in local dives and internationally acclaimed restaurants, and learn how to prepare Bangkok-style Thai food in private cooking classes. Nikky will post Instagram stories throughout the trip through her NikkyFeedingSouls IG handle. She will host two trips to Thailand in 2020 so, if you’re interested, sign up for her emails on www.nikkyfeedingsouls.com.

With everything she has going on, Nikky remains centered and focused on her family, which includes Knox, 11, and Skye, 6. She takes time to give back to several educational and philanthropic organizations, including the Texas Restaurant Association Education Foundation and Les Dames d’Escoffier (pronounced LayDom-Des-CO-fee-YAY). Both organizations provide scholarships and mentors to those seeing education and support in the culinary and hospitality industry.

Kersten Rettig

Kersten Rettig, a Park Cities-based writer with more than 30 years’ experience in food and beverage marketing and PR, is a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier and the VNA Board of Trustees. Follow her on Instagram @KickshawPapers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *