Tuk Tuk owner to open an upscale Thai spot, Chai Yo, next to Himitsu

Meanwhile Tamarind Seed will temporarily close in September for about two years
Chai Yo owner/chef DeeDee Niyomkul at Tuk Tuk Thai Food Loft

Photograph by Andrew Thomas Lee

This fall, a Thai restaurant called Chai Yo, described by its owner “chic, intimate, and artisanal,” will take over the former J. Christopher’s space near Himitsu, joining a cluster of other upscale restaurants—Seasons 52, King + Duke, Umi, Chops, and Atlas—near the intersection of Peachtree and West Paces Ferry roads.

Chai Yo comes from DeeDee Niyomkul and the family behind Nan Fine Dining, Tamarind Seed, and Tuk Tuk Thai Food Loft. It promises a modern take on traditional Thai cuisine. Though Niyomkul will be the executive chef, she is collaborating with her mother, Nan, of the eponymous restaurant, on the menu. They’ll focus on shared plates such as Thai-style tapioca dumplings with minced chicken, pickled radish, and peanuts; and lobster tail wrapped with crispy egg noodles, northern Thai yellow curry, pickled mustard greens, and shallots. There will be duck larb salad with roasted jasmine rice, lemongrass, mint, and kaffir lime; and a dish with spicy northern Thai chili paste, tomatoes, shallots, garlic pork, sticky rice, pork cracklings, and vegetables. Chai Yo will serve lunch Monday through Friday and dinner nightly.

“Chai Yo means celebration in Thai. People say it when they toast, like ‘cheers!’” Niyomkul says. “It means hurray.”

Fitting with that theme, Chai Yo will have a larger focus on craft cocktails than the family’s other restaurants. The Thai-influenced cocktails will incorporate fresh kaffir lime, lemongrass, ginger, mint, and spices. Beer and wine will be available, too.

The 3,400-square-foot space will seat 90 people and include a patio. Niyomkul says the restaurant will have a modern Asian look with wood finishes sourced from northern Thailand and art pieces and fixtures from Bangkok artists. There will be leather bar chairs; a granite, textured bar top; and gold lighting.

While the family is busy getting Chai Yo ready to open, they will be temporarily closing down Tamarind Seed, which has been in Colony Square since 2007. The development is undergoing renovations, and the Niyomkuls plan to reopen Tamarind Seed when the work is complete, in about two years.