Som Bao Cafe is a family business that's run by the seven grown children of Somdee and Bao Phoutasen, who lent their names to the eatery's moniker and their passion for food to the kitchen. On any given day, guests may meet siblings Bo, Fonsi, or Kelly as they drop off plates of coconut-infused curry or steaming pad thai. Kam or Pennee may appear at the register, and Monk or Susan might share the spicy details of their favorite rice or noodle dish in exchange for a winning lotto ticket.
Whether quenching a TV fix at the black lacquered bar or noshing on a veggie stir-fry at a casual table in the dining room, each patron plays a role in making this family's American dream come true, even without disturbing the sleeping genies hiding in every soy-sauce bottle.
Before Tida Thai existed, when Boonrit Ngamsaard—known to his restaurant's many regulars as Jack—first started cooking Thai food for other people, something was missing. His dishes weren't quite reaching the standards he'd set for himself. In response, Jack didn't just order a new spice or check out a cookbook from the library—instead, he went all the way back to Thailand. Only there, Jack reasoned, could he immerse himself in the skills he wanted to absorb.
It worked. Jack returned to the states on a long noodle zip line, fired up a pan, minced some garlic, and instantly realized that his trip to Thailand had been a good idea. He then founded Tida Thai, an elegantly decorated establishment where fresh foods delight palates. Customers describe Jack as a "warm and caring individual." And they enjoy his perfectionist streak, too, citing the chef's penchant for getting feedback and tweaking spice levels to individual specifications. It's no wonder that after much imploring from his customers, Jack opened up several more locations. Regulars now pour into these eateries every day, enthusiastically seeking Jack's skillful flavor combinations and Tida Thai's tranquil atmosphere.