Sen Yai Sen Lek – Big Noodle Little Noodle – is a Thai rice and noodle restaurant co-owned by Joe and Holly Hatch-Surisook. Like many with a connection to restaurant life, they had long considered having their “own place”, and experience led them to view their complementary strengths as a good fit for restaurant ownership.
Joe’s Thai culinary experience was initiated in his family’s kitchens in Bangkok and later in Chicago. He learned traditional techniques and careful balancing of flavors by observing and participating in the preparation of family meals. Locally, Joe worked at the much beloved former Chet’s Taverna and Nicollet Island Inn. When his children were young and he was primarily a stay at home dad, Joe taught cooking classes at several local schools, including Kitchen Window. During this time he refined his recipes and restaurant concept.
In September 2008, as the youngest child entered Kindergarten, the couple opened Sen Yai Sen Lek in Northeast Minneapolis (“Daddy didn’t have a job so we had to open a restaurant”). Longtime residents of the neighborhood, they chose Central Avenue, at the heart of Northeast’s central crossroads, as their location for Northeast’s first Thai restaurant.
Our Guiding Principles
Joe’s goal at Sen Yai Sen Lek is to offer authentic preparations of traditional Thai dishes. By specializing in single dish noodle and rice entrees reminiscent of Bangkok’s street food, he offers guests a fuller range of Thai cuisine by simplifying choices, and still offering everyone’s favorites! Community involvement, family ownership and an emphasis on local growers and producers round out the restaurant’s guiding principles, influenced by Holly & Joe’s personal life philosophy.
Local contemporary artists’ work is on rotation in the bar, embracing the vibrant arts community that surrouds the restaurant. Contrast this work with Boonmee Surisook’s (Joe’s dad) poignant acrylic paintings of his homeland, Thai silks from Northeastern Thailand – the Isaan region where Joe’s dad grew up – stretched and unframed, and black and white family photos from Thailand in the mid-60s. A Boonmee Surisook drawing of the much-revered King Rama V (Chulalongkorn) watches over the dining room.