July 29, 2014

THE HUB: Thai cuisine returns to Williston

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Honey Thai Cuisine owner and head chef Sam Sithiprasert (left) stands in the front dining area of his newly founded Williston restaurant with chef Pornngam Johnson. (Observer photo by Luke Baynes)

By Luke Baynes

Observer staff

A vacant Williston building that formerly housed a combination Japanese steakhouse and Thai restaurant has reopened—as a Thai restaurant.

The structure, located just north of Taft Corners on Vermont 2A, was the previous home of Douzo Restaurant. It is now called Honey Thai Cuisine, and exclusively serves Thai food.

The owner and head chef is Essex Junction resident Sam Sithiprasert, who formerly cooked at Winooski’s Tiny Thai Restaurant and the since-closed Bangkok Bistro in Burlington.

A native of Pattaya, a city 90 miles south of Bangkok, Sithiprasert moved from Thailand to Mississippi in 1991 and worked at Thai restaurants in Miami and Manhattan before moving to Vermont in 2002.

“I worked at a Thai restaurant for many, many years,” he said. “The time (came) to open a business.”

Neo Hansriworapong, a former server at Douzo, also built its sushi bar and painted its wall art. He has retained his dual role of server and interior decorator at Honey Thai, contributing a large mural of a stream flowing past a Buddhist temple on the restaurant’s east wall.

Hansriworapong, who hails from Chiang Mai, the largest city in northern Thailand, gave high marks to Williston and its citizenry.

“Around here is a nice location. We’re lucky we get this restaurant,” Hansriworapong said. “The people here are very good, nice people. They love Thai food, also.”

Honey Thai’s menu contains such staples of Thai cuisine as pad thai and Massaman curry, as well as a variety of fish species and what the menu terms its signature dish: boneless duck with homemade sweet honey sauce.

Hansriworapong observed that his friend Sithiprasert’s cooking is unique in its combination of Thai spices with traditional American surf and turf fare, such as the “Spicy Steak,” which features grilled sirloin with a spicy chili basil sauce, or the “Green Mountain Salmon,” a grilled salmon fillet with green curry sauce, fresh basil leaves and vegetables.

He added that any of the menu items listed with a chili pepper graphic can be adjusted by patrons, depending on their tolerance for heat.

“When you order something spicy, it’s up to you. You can tell the server how spicy—one to five stars,” Hansriworapong said.

Sithiprasert has applied for a liquor license for his establishment and plans to convert the former Douzo sushi bar into a liquid bar, serving beer (including Singha, Thailand’s most popular export) and wine (including sake).

Honey Thai began serving food on Sept. 11, but its grand opening won’t be for another six weeks or so, Sithiprasert said. He envisions having an open house, where guests can sample small portions of his restaurant’s large variety of Thai cuisine.

However, he was quick to add that during the normal course of business, Honey Thai will by no means be a buffet-style affair.

“When the order comes, we cook,” Sithiprasert said.

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