Heaping helping of hospitality

Marshall Allen

LA CANADA FLINTRIDGE -- Everywhere patrons look in Min’s Kitchen, they

enjoy the hospitality of owner Toi Vanasin.

Vanasin, 50, brightens the tables with fresh flowers every day. She


imported ornate rosewood tables and chairs from Thailand, and teak wood

statuettes of traditional Thai musicians dot the walls. Vanasin’s

personal touch, with decor and with her customers, may be what’s helped

Min’s Kitchen make it to this year’s 25th anniversary.


Min’s Kitchen is the only Thai restaurant in La Canada Flintridge,

although some have come and gone, Vanasin said. It’s the personal touch

that keeps customers coming back, she said.

“I introduce myself, get their name and remember it,” the outgoing

mother of two said. She even remembers what patrons have eaten on

previous visits.

“It’s automatic, I never forget it,” she said.

She even cooks to order, taking into account the health concerns of


her customers. Because La Canada Flintridge is a small town, she’s

careful to take good care of patrons, Vanasin said.

Vanasin’s personal touch was vital to the restaurant’s survival when

it opened. The restaurant had been a sandwich shop, and most of her

customers had never eaten Thai food, Vanasin said. Vanasin introduced

Thai food to her customers “little by little, to brainwash them!” she

said smiling.

“I didn’t want to cook sandwiches, I wanted to cook Thai!”


Since she was encouraging customers to branch out, and educating them

in the process, Vanasin instituted a policy: “If you like it, you pay. If

not, you don’t have to pay.”

Within six months, positive word of mouth spread through the city.

Employees of Jet Propulsion Laboratory began making Min’s Kitchen a

regular lunch spot, and the community forgot all about the sandwich shop.