ThaiPop
Creativity, Pivoting and Becoming a New Mom

Written and photographed by Tiffany Alexandria, choochoocachew.com

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ThaiPop offers the most authentic and unique Thai food experience in the Rochester area. Taste the tropics in delicious regional dishes perfected by chef Annie Balow—fresh herbs and coconut milk, the perfect mix of savory, sweet, sour and spiciness and a world of texture.

A take-out transition

ThaiPop started as a pop-up restaurant with a multi-course tasting menu. But the word “pivot” pretty much summed up 2020, as the pandemic forced the restaurant to transition from in-person dining to take-out only.

Balow is an artist—creative juices flow when she curates her tasting menu, and you can see her masterpiece as she meticulously plates each dish before serving to her guests. The typical take-out menu is the opposite; it is repetitive and feels more like a means to survive, not art. While this may not be a direction that ThaiPop wanted to go, they refused to sacrifice on the flavor. The same brightness you’d taste on the tasting menu can be found in each take-out dish.

When visiting Balow and her team of amazing women in the kitchen as they prep take-out orders, needless to say, it smells amazing. The air is filled with the scent of caramelized fish sauce, the aroma of sautéed garlic and chili, the sweet flavor of sizzling pad thai sauce and the smell of fresh kaffir lime leaf and lemongrass from the tom yum sauce that coats their yum yum wings. The fryer never stops frying, and the pans never stop tossing—a very different vibe from the more relaxed tasting menu nights.

New joys and return to tastings

In 2020, ThaiPop took a short break, and Balow returned to the kitchen in February 2021 with a new role. In addition to head chef, she’s a new mom!

“Balancing life with a kid and work is not easy,” says Balow. “But since Ryan (her husband) is working from home now, it does make it a little easier.” Having a schedule becomes more important, life feels a little less flexible and learning to still enjoy things they loved before the baby are all part of their daily life now.

This spring brings excitement as ThaiPop returns to Marrow (located in Nellie’s on 3rd) with their tasting menu. Taste unique Thai dishes you will not find anywhere else. Follow ThaiPop on Facebook for date and menu announcements.

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About Author

Tiffany Alexandria

Born and raised in Taiwan by a picky-eater dad and a mom who’ll try anything, Tiffany has tasted a world of flavors. Through traveling, she learned the relationship between food and culture, and the importance of supporting locals. Tiffany currently works as a food photographer, blogger, and occasional artist and designer. You can visit choochoocachew.com to learn more about her foods.

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