TAI Lam may be a qualified mining engineer, but he prefers life in the kitchen.
The 37-year-old moved from Sydney to work in Moura's mines, but the lack of quality food in town led him and his friends to pig out on the food offerings on their weekends in Rockhampton.
"Every Friday we'd come back to Rocky and eat something different," he said.
"After two years, a good location was presented to us."
That led him and his Vietnamese family to open Saigon, Saigon six years ago, now a popular Chinese/Vietnamese restaurant on the bank of the Fitzroy River, and not long after Thai Basement Rockhampton.
"Engineering was a bludger job compared to this," he laughed.
"A restaurant is still hard work, and long hours."
Mr Lam is now in town to open Thai Basement Gladstone, with a restaurant-quality Thai menu.
"What makes it stand out is the quality of food and the fresh approach," he said.
He said with $100,000 in renovations it was the small details that made a difference in the atmosphere.
"It's time to move on, bring a fusion to the cuisine and make dining a bit more fun," Mr Lam said.
"If it's good they come back - sounds simple, but it works."
That includes a cocktail list and a menu for gluten-free and vegan meals.
The restaurant, next to Rusty's Motel on Goondoon St, was now set for efficiency, he said.
"The past six months' setting up has been a pleasant experience," Mr Lam said.
"I'll stay here as long as it takes to get everything spot on."
And as for the "ding-ding-ding" Thai music?
"Who listens to Thai music mate? We're going to play jazz in the background."
Thai Basement Gladstone will be open from Monday for lunch and dinner.
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