Ones to Watch | By Sabrina Davis
The owners of a cleverly named Thai restaurant in Moorpark, California, have given a cuisine steeped in rich tradition a makeover. “Fresh” and “clean” are the adjectives that inspired Andy and Kesaya Tjan in designing every aspect of Fit2BThai from the recipes to the atmosphere.
“There are myths and assumptions about Thai food that we’re trying to dispel,” Andy Tjan says. “Many people think all Thai food is spicy or that authentic Thai food is served in a full-service restaurant with dark rooms and statues all around.”
Fit2BThai’s food is certainly authentic, given the cooking heritage that Kesaya Tjan draws from in creating recipes. She grew up just outside of Bangkok, Thailand, moved to the United States at age 18, and has been cooking since she was a child.
Andy Tjan was born in Indonesia and moved to the U.S. at age 7. “I grew up loving American sports,” Andy says. “Eating healthy always has been an important part of staying fit. I always had an interest in opening a restaurant, but I didn’t know how to cook.”
Kesaya’s degree in design and love for cooking made opening a restaurant an interest for her too. The couple decided to make their dream a reality after their son was born two and a half years ago.
“I was working in high-pressure sales in the semiconductor industry and wanted a chance for us to be together more,” Andy recalls. “We looked into a lot of restaurant concepts to decide what made sense.”
Many of the Fit2BThai menu items are traditional favorites, like pad thai or chicken satay with peanut sauce. A few items are proprietary recipes, like Kesaya’s Tamarind Chicken. “This is our version of orange chicken,” Andy says. “We use honeys rather than sugars. It metabolizes differently and is better for the body.”
Healthy living is at the center of the Fit2BThai culture, hence the name. Everything is cooked at the time of order; recipes are low in sodium; frying is done with canola oil; and no MSG is used. Fit2BThai also offers low-carbohydrate items and a gluten-free menu. “Our cooking methods are healthy without sacrificing flavor,” Andy says. “Our customers describe our food as really clean tasting.”