By Sam Padgett and Erin O’Hare
The red house at 2210 Fontaine Ave. that once housed Thai 99 has a new coat of paint and a new inhabitant: Silk Thai Restaurant.
Silk Thai owner TK Chin (nephew of Thai 99 owner Eddy Keomahathai) is bent on maintaining the friendly and welcoming environment that Thai 99 customers came to know, first with the name of the eatery itself. Chin says he’s always associated silk with softness and comfort, and from the moment one crosses the threshold of the restaurant, the warmth is palpable. Silk Thai’s walls are adorned with a variety of antiques and assorted knicknacks. There are also signs that exalt family, wine and football season, and, hidden among the dense decorations that Chin gathered from local antique stores and Craigslist, there is a uniquely Thai relic, a portrait of the late King of Thailand Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Even though Silk Thai is both located in and decorated like a cozy house, it remains an authentic Thai restaurant. Chin owns several other Thai eateries, including Mum Mum Restaurant and Zabb Thai Restaurant, both located in Manassas.
With Silk Thai, Chin plans to bring his favorite dishes from his other restaurants into a single menu. He’s cognizant of Thai 99’s previous standing as a Best of C-VILLE winner, and says he is eager to reclaim that title. Chin credits his co-owner and head chef, Roengsan “Pepsi” Chaichiengphin, with creating an authentic Thai menu. “He puts his heart and soul into the food,” says Chin. Some of those authentic dishes include khao soi, a traditional noodle soup served in northern Thailand, and the hearty pad Thai tempura.
Ultimately, Chin is excited to be a part of the Charlottesville culinary community. “I’ve been around food all my life,” he says. “My family sold palm sugar back in Thailand, so I’m proud to provide the most authentic food.”
Starting with a clean plate
C-VILLE Restaurant Week is upon us once again, and in 2018 the twice-yearly event (it comes around again in July) will benefit the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. One dollar from each meal will go to the nonprofit, which works with community partners to combat hunger in central Virginia. From Friday, January 19, through Sunday, January 28, more than 39 local restaurants will offer three-course prixe-fixe menus at either a $25 or $35 price point (note that this is different from previous years, in which there were three price points). Check out c-villerestaurantweek.com for more information on participating restaurants, menus and reservations.
Sharing a meal
Maru, a Korean restaurant slated to open this week in the former Miso Sweet Ramen + Donuts spot on the Downtown Mall, means “gathering place.” Actually, the Maru staff tells us, it literally translates in Korean to “made from wood,” but, over time, it has become associated with hospitality and community. Maru the restaurant will serve traditional Korean food with modern additions. One of the restaurant’s trademark dishes is a kimchi arancini, a fried fish with both kimchi and mozzarella cheese. There will be a bar serving classic cocktails made with Korean liquors, plus a drink served with soju (a clear liquor from Korea) inside a watermelon. The restaurant’s specially designed tables, which have ice bucket-sized holes to keep your beverages cold while you hang with your friends, say plenty about the type of gathering place Maru aims to be.
On Saturday, February 10, the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center will hold a Greens & Mac ’n’ Cheese cook-off. Entry is free, and you must submit your recipe for judging based on taste, look, smell and originality. Each participating cook should bring his own food, display and serving material for 100 tasters. The Jefferson School will supply a 6-foot table, plus table covers, cutlery and serving cups. Interested cooks (and taste-testers) can go to jeffschoolheritagecenter.org for more information.
This Friday and Saturday, January 19 and 20, chef André Soltner will cook dinner at Restaurant Pomme in Gordonsville. Soltner, recipient of a James Beard Award for lifetime achievement, is widely regarded as the original superstar chef. All of the dinner seats are filled for both nights, but a call to the restaurant to get on the waitlist couldn’t hurt.
According to a sign posted on the restaurant door, Café Caturra, a coffee shop-restaurant-bar combo located on the UVA Corner, has closed.