Restaurant Review: Aroy Thai

Mango Curry with Chicken and Pork Larb. Photo by Elizabeth Gelineau

A year ago, a new Thai restaurant quietly opened its doors on the corner of Common and Government streets in Midtown. Since then, Aroy Thai has gained a loyal following. There are two secrets to its success: food and family. It’s obvious when dining at Aroy that the food is fresh, made from scratch and truly Thai — you won’t find fusion dishes here. And the family that owns the place, alongside front-of-house man Joseph McKinney, settled into the community in a truly special way.

McKinney, a New York native, never had aspirations to open a restaurant. He studied nursing at Bishop State, where he met culinary arts major Pornnapha Mahang in an English class.

“We’ve been together ever since,” he says. “So when she told me her family was thinking about opening a restaurant, I was all in.”

Mahang, her mother Primapha and her grandfather Thaeng Soiphet are originally from Phitsanulok, Thailand, and have always loved cooking. They immigrated to the United States in 2013 and owned a restaurant in Arkansas before moving to Mobile so Primapha could work as a welder at Austal. But cooking is the family’s passion, so in 2017, they discussed opening a Thai restaurant. After considering a long list of names, they settled on “Aroy,” which means “delicious” in Thai.

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They envisioned a place that served authentic Thai food made from high-quality ingredients — some even from their own garden, like Thai basil and chilies. Mahang says the family also wanted to build a strong rapport with customers and make them feel at home.

That’s where McKinney comes in. He playfully banters with customers and memorizes regulars’ orders while working six days a week.

“We have people who come in three or four times a week,” he says. “They’ve become like family to us.”

Mahang says Aroy Thai is a dream come true for her family.

“It’s very rewarding because American culture is so different, and we have had to adapt a lot,” she says. “We are so proud we have created something that people here love.”

On the Menu

Pineapple Express. Photo by Elizabeth Gelineau

Vegetarian Summer Roll
This refreshing, guilt-free appetizer features lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, Thai basil and rice noodles wrapped in rice paper, served with hoisin-peanut sauce and sweet and sour sauce with crushed peanuts

Pork Larb
To call larb a salad is a stretch — it’s mostly meat. Ground pork is mixed with toasted rice, peppers, scallions, red onion, cilantro, mint, fish sauce and lime juice to create a spicy, flavorful filling for iceberg lettuce wraps.

Mango Curry with Chicken
Chicken, bell pepper, onion, carrot and mango — yes, mango, for the perfect pop of sweetness — are bathed in a rich, earthy broth flavored with red curry paste, curry powder and coconut milk.

Pineapple Express
Traditional fried rice — egg, carrots, peas, tomatoes, cashews, chicken and shrimp — gets an injection of sweetness with the addition of pineapple chunks before being placed in a carved out half of the fresh, tropical fruit.

Aroy Thai Cuisine
Su – Th. 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
F – Sa. 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
966 Government St. 

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