COLUMBIA— A new Thai restaurant opened on East Broadway this week, the third in the downtown sector.
Thip Thai Cuisine at 904 E. Broadway opened Monday under chef Kittikoon Chompupong, a native of Bangkok. Elsewhere downtown is Chim's Thai Kitchen on North Tenth Street and Bangkok Gardens on Cherry Street.
What: Thip Thai Cuisine
Where: 904 E. Broadway
Hours: 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for lunch, 5 to 10 p.m. for dinner, seven days a week.
For more information, go to www.facebook.com/ThipThaiCuisine
Thip Thai Cuisine has taken over the spot Crazy Noodles formerly occupied. The new restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for lunch and 5 to 10 p.m. for dinner seven days a week.
Thip is derived from his mother's name, Doungtip. "Since I learned a lot of things from my mother, it is appropriate to dedicate the restaurant to her," Chompupong said.
He said he merges the homestyle dishes from his mother's kitchen with restaurant-style food his father cooked. Like his mother, he said he has at least 60 different herbs and spices in the kitchen.
"I will bring restaurant cooking close as possible to home cooking," he said. "I'm not sacrificing home-cooking for mass production."
The menu lists 40 choices, from noodles to fried rice to curries. Chompupong said he is still tweaking this menu and expects to add more to the list during the spring.
He recommends kee mao, a spicy beef noodle dish with roasted garlic, chili sauce and sake. Double noodles is an original creation, which he calls "a beautiful marriage of two fantastic noodle dishes" — yellow curry and pad thai.
When he was growing up in Thailand, Chompupong said his mother would wake up at 4 a.m. every day and head to the market for fresh ingredients before preparing that night's dinner. She would spend most of the day in the kitchen, he said.
Chompupong moved to the United States when he was 13 to live with his father, who owned a Thai restaurant in Boston.
His father's "restaurant-style food" as Chompupong calls it, was commercialized, he said. Sauces were made in volume so preparation of meals would be more efficient. The taste was mild compared to traditional Thai food, he said. "It was made to fit everyone's palates," he said.
Chompupong said he started working at the Boston restaurant when he was 15. During the week, he rarely saw his father, but on weekends, his father would wake him at 5 a.m. to go to the seafood market in Boston for ingredients.
Since then, Chompupong said he has worked in more than 10 restaurants, including ones in Albany, N.Y.; Birmingham, Ala.; Memphis, Tenn.; and Jonesboro, Ark.
He and his mother cooked together when he opened his first restaurant, Sasi Thai Bistro in O'Fallon in 2003. It is here that he learned her cooking techniques, he said.
The day after Thip Thai Cuisine opened, John Wilkerson and Jason Kinnear ordered crispy egg rolls, pot stickers and Thai dumplings as starters for lunch. Wilkerson followed with pad thai — rice noodles in a tamarind sauce — and Kinnear with pad see-u — flat rice noodles in garlic soy sauce.
Wilkerson, the assistant director for international recruitment at MU, called the service "outstanding."
"They were very attentive but not overwhelmingly so," he said.
Wilkerson, a frequent visitor to Thailand, said "the flavor profile was absolutely Thai."
Kinnear, the assistant director for study abroad programs at MU, said he would give the restaurant a rating of seven out of 10.
"The appetizers were awesome," he said. "They had nice sauce and came out quickly." He said the main dish could have a bit more flavor, and the soda machine wasn't working, though tea and other drinks were available.
The restaurant has applied for a liquor license, said Nichole Acree, a part-time employee. The restaurant will have a bar with variety of beers from Thailand and Japan, she said.
One of the reasons for choosing Columbia as the location was the college student demographic and the diversity, Chompupong said.
He's counting on word of mouth to attract students and others.
"All I can do is prepare good meals," he said.