All-Female Team Opens New Restaurant in Thousand Oaks

Leah Yuan - Prawn & Basil

Nestled in a Thousand Oaks strip mall, where the streets widen and the fresh suburban air flows freely, is Prawn & Basil. This new, family-owned restaurant bills itself as “New American Cuisine, a celebration of an innovative palate.” The wealthy and predominantly white suburb of Thousand Oaks may seem like an unlikely location for a political or feminist revolution, but the team of women behind Prawn & Basil found it to be the perfect place to redefine what it means to be American today. Their weapon of choice? Food.

Prawn & Basil

From the moment you enter, Prawn & Basil feels like a break from the traditional. Its feminine aesthetic is uniquely refreshing and modern, particularly for Thousand Oaks. You’ll find beautifully exposed brick walls, polished concrete floors, and plant life. The front dining room is flooded with natural light, illuminating all the subtle details of the warm and minimal interior designed by Creative Director Leah Yuan. The layout lends itself to a bright and airy room for lunch, and a cozy sushi bar in the back for intimate dinners.

Prawn & Basil

The menu is truly a celebration of what it means to be American today – an exploration of unlikely flavors and textures that come together to create a rich experience. There are a number of dishes that pay homage to the family’s Thai roots, but they each have a modern twist. The P&B Pad Thai, for example, is made with stir-fried glass noodles in lieu of the traditional rice noodles. The result? A lighter and brighter dish that is more sour than it is heavy with sweetness. In between Khao Soi Shrimp and Sriracha Wings, you’ll also find dishes like Bloody Mary Pasta, the perfectly layered Soft-Shell Crab Burger, Argentinian Style Steak, and a full sushi menu.

Prawn & Basil
Prawn & Basil

For Partner and Operations Manager Tata Lawton, opening Prawn & Basil was all about looking ahead. “We wanted to bring a part of our childhood to the forefront of our future,” she said. Her family already owns nine restaurants in the area, most of which are traditional Thai or Japanese cuisine. “We wanted this space to be different because we knew the concept was going to be different. So we collected ideas from our childhood in Southern California.” That of course meant Thai and Japanese food, but also American favorites like burgers, spaghetti, and pizza.

Prawn & Basil
Prawn & Basil

“It was an element we wanted to brand as New American because we are Americans, and this is a melting pot of all cultures,” she said. Not only is Prawn & Basil different from the family’s other restaurant offerings, but it’s also their first location run by an all-female team consisting of Executive Chef and mom Suvanna Subanakyos, Executive Chef Polly Srisri, Tata, and Leah.

Prawn & Basil Restaurant Thousand Oaks

Leah had the idea for the restaurant while she was working on a branding project for her UCLA Extension class. At the time, Suvanna had no intention of opening a new restaurant, but when she came across the space she decided to move forward.

“We conceptualized it together,” Tata said. Their supportive dynamic is easy to pick up on; these women play to each other’s strengths, and most importantly, give each other room to do what they’re best at.

Prawn & Basil
3316 E Thousand Oaks Blvd
Thousand Oaks, CA 91362

Monday - Thursday: 11am - 9:30pm
Friday & Saturday: 11am - 10pm
Sunday: 11am - 9pm

Photography: Grey & Elle      |      Writing: Lydia Mack