–by AdVantage Staff
PUBLICATION DATE: Jan 18, 2021
Kayoua Xiong realized her long time dream in late December when she opened Kay’s Table in Saxon Square. The young Xiong along with her parents and siblings fled from their home in Laos in the mid 1970s. “I remember learning to make rice pots from my father in a refugee center during our journey to America,” she offered. “I grew up loving to cook, learning how to prepare authentic dishes with my father who taught me well.”
While cooking remained her passion, Xiong chose the medical field as her career path. It was in Erie, Pennsylvania that she met her Vietnamese-born husband while they were in pre med together. After a year of medical school in Philadelphia, she chose to become an ER Physician’s Assistant while her husband continued through medical school at MCO. She practiced in Santa Barbara, Calif. and moved to Sylvania after she and her husband got married. They had three wedding ceremonies. The first was a Hmong Thai Laos, followed by a Vietnamese, and lastly an American white wedding to celebrate their combined heritages.
“I never forgot my dream of opening a restaurant,” she reported. “And, as our children are now older, my husband and I felt this would be the time for me to follow my dream,” she said. “He is so very supportive and he is also my best but toughest critic. I have become a better cook because of him.”
Thanks to her husband’s guidance, Xiong has mastered the art of Vietnamese cuisine along with that of her native Hmong, Thai, and Laos. She also combines flavors from Chinese and other Southeast Asian cuisines. “I like to think I add my own flair to each dish I prepare,” she explained. “I love to experiment with different flavors and textures and make each dish my own,” she said.
Xiong uses only fresh ingredients, many of which are grown in the large garden she and her now 91-year-old mother tend. “My mother can grow anything, and she is teaching me about herbs and more. We continue to grow plants that are the outcropping of the many seeds my mother had the foresight to bring even as we were fleeing for our lives,” Xiong recalled. “The herbs we harvest from those plants are very dear to me and I use all of them in my cooking,” she said.
“Also, all of the menu items at Kay’s Table are dishes I prepare for my family. I am excited to introduce these dishes and bits of our culture to everyone in the community,” she said.
Currently, Xiong offers a limited menu with an occasional special whenever she’s in the mood to create. “I like to keep my menu small because I want to really focus on bringing the best to my friends, neighbors, and community. I want to provide quality cooking not quantity.” Five Vietnamese dishes with Xiong’s special touches include Vietnamese Pho, a rice noodle and beef dish; Bun Ga/ Thit Nuong, lemongrass marinated meat topped with a spring roll; Bun Cha, grilled seasoned pork with rice noodles; Banh Mi, a very popular Vietnamese street sandwich; and Cha Gio /Gab Yoj, a spring roll dinner and appetizers are also available. In addition, patrons of Kay’s Table may enjoy Boba or bubble tea; Vietnamese coffee; Dalgona coffee and various drinks.
“Our menu is flexible and will change depending on the season. I only use the freshest of ingredients. I want everyone who eats here to enjoy every dish. I make sure that the last bite is every bit as good as the first one,” Xiong assured. “I want to bring the best of my culture to my patrons,,” she said.
Hours are 11 am to 7 pm Tuesday through Saturday. Currently, Kay’s Table is offering carryout service only. When the COVID-19 situation changes, there will be seating for 40 guests.