Down a narrow gravel road by the Easley River sits one of Columbia’s hidden treasures. Nestled along the Lewis and Clark Trail at Cooper’s Landing, the Thai Kitchen may not look like much by its exterior. However, as the old quote says, you can’t judge a book by its cover. In the next couple of months, though, this book plans to have a new cover, and patrons will no longer have to travel to the riverside. Having had such success at Cooper’s Landing, owner Pramuan “Chim” Duncan has decided to develop it into a full-fledged restaurant. The new Thai Kitchen will be located at 3502 I-70 Drive Southeast next to the Hong Kong Market.
For now, Duncan still serves authentic Thai food out of a little white trailer at Cooper’s Landing. The Thai Kitchen has been bringing the tastes of Thailand to Cooper’s Landing on Thursday through Sunday nights for the past three summers.
“I ended up at Cooper’s Landing because my husband, Rob, and I would come camping here, and there was nobody to cook for the people,” Duncan said.
Duncan, a Thailand native, met her husband while he was vacationing in Thailand. She moved halfway around the world with him to Columbia in 1984. Though she is far from her homeland, she keeps her culture alive by supplying Thai food to visitors and campers at Cooper’s Landing.
“I have always loved cooking, and I have been very impressed with the response we have had from the people. Many customers have become regulars and come here once a week to gather around the campfire, listen to live entertainment and eat the food,” Duncan said.
One man who was having his weekly dessert of fried mangos and sticky rice said Duncan had the best Thai food he had ever eaten. He and his wife have traveled to many places and eaten Thai food at various restaurants, but in his mind nothing even compared to Duncan’s cooking.
Because of the size of the trailer in which the Thai Kitchen is currently run, cooking and putting together each plate as it is ordered can be a tough job.
According to Duncan’s Web site, few houses in Thailand have built-in or enclosed kitchens. Cooking normally takes place under a veranda or in a roughly built annex with mud floors. If there are any walls at all, the windows are wide and unglazed so the smoke and food aromas can waft through the streets.
“It is hard to cook in such a small space, which is why I am so excited to open the Thai Kitchen restaurant,” Duncan said. “I am hoping to open it in November, but we are renovating and remodeling the building, and there is still a lot of work to be done.”
The Thai Kitchen at Cooper’s Landing is scheduled to remain open on Thursday through Sunday nights until the end of the October.