Tongue Thai’d: Morrisville and Stowe welcome new Thai restaurants

Both Stowe and Morrisville are spicing things up with new Thai restaurants opening this month. Stowe welcomed Saen Sook to Mountain Road last week and Morrisville’s downtown is now home to Thai Kitchen.

Saen Sook: Happiness is in the name

Saen Sook brings an Eastern vibe to the space that once housed O’Grady’s Irish pub, which folded last October. Saen Sook owner and chef Patrick Sovikul says that while this is his first time running a Stowe restaurant, he owned a similar place in New York for the last two years.

Sovikul was born in Thailand, but has lived in the U.S. for more than 25 years, he says, after meeting his future wife in New York. Also Thai, she’d been living in the U.S. longer than Sovikul had, and they stayed and had a son, who is now in college.

Sovikul said when he first arrived in the country, he had a full-time job exporting and importing silk flowers, but his real passion was always cooking.

“I like cooking for myself and my family,” Sovikul said. He can remember learning to cook at the patient hands of his mother as a child in Thailand.

“My sister and I both love cooking,” he said. “Everything I know, I learned from my mom. She’s a really good family cook. I learned as a child.”

Sovikul’s first foray into the restaurant industry was his Thai venture in New York. He did that for two years before making the decision to retreat to Stowe.

He first came to Stowe at the invitation of a friend of his, who at the time owned Red Basil, a Thai restaurant on Mountain Road. Red Basil went out of business in 2012, and Sovikul took the opportunity to start considering a move to Stowe. “My friend called me to come here, and I thought I would like to open a Thai restaurant here without competition,” he explained. “I believe I can bring my food to this town. We do good quality food, not cheap quality, but the price is reasonable. We do only Thai food right now.”

Sovikul is expecting that to change as he gets both his sushi bar and his liquor license up and running. “Right now we’re only open for dinner, but I hope to be open for lunch too in two weeks,” said Sovikul. The liquor license should follow, he said, along with the restaurant’s planned sushi offerings.

Sovikul is excited to finally have his shingle out in Stowe. “I want local people to come here,” he said.

Saen Sook’s dinner following is looking solid so far, Sovikul says. “Last week we weren’t too busy until Friday and Saturday night,” he said. “We were busy then. It definitely made me feel more confident. We even had people come back. They were saying how they didn’t know we were open, so I made sure to put a sign out.”

The restaurant’s interior is surprisingly spacious, with room for 99 guests, and it’s decorated in what Sovikul says is traditional Thai style. The statues that feature prominently in each room serve a cultural purpose, as well as an aesthetic one. “It’s a tradition for Thai people,” Sovikul said. “When you have a business, you put out the lucky lady [statue], and she brings people to your restaurant or your business. It’s similar to the waving cat you see in Chinese restaurants.”

Authentic Thai culture is a huge presence in Saen Sook, right down to its name, which carries personal meaning for Sovikul. “Saen Sook is the name of my hometown,” Sovikul explained. “It means happiness. ‘Saen’ means happiness. I want people to be happy here.”

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Posted: Thursday, April 28, 2016
By Caleigh Cross and Kayla Friedrich