Co-owners Phanida Kongboon and Sakesun Supasri
Photos by Tina Garceau
Having patronized and lent helping hands to Cafe de Laos, Phanida Kongboon and Sakesun Supasri felt sad when learning of the plan to close the haunt. Eager to have Asian dishes continue to come out of 1117 S. 11th St., the two bought the space and dubbed it Ratchada Thai & Laos Cuisine. Three-and-a-half years after opening the nod to their homeland and its cuisine’s connections to Laotian fare, the co-owners find themselves thankful for the receptivity that their brainchild has received.
“They love it!” the Passyunk Square-based proprietors simultaneously said of reactions from patrons, particularly Americans, with Kongboon adding that the last 18 months have generated the genial exchanges they had hoped for upon opening.
She and her business partner, a resident of the 1700 block of South Chadwick Street, came to the United States with education as their motivation, with the former studying hospitality and the latter earning an MBA in finance. With Kongboon’s drive and Supasri’s youth-heavy food preparation background, along with mutual pride in their heritage’s dishes, they had no fear in establishing a restaurant.
“I love cooking,” Supasri said of his vocational prowess, which special menu offerings every three months help to strengthen. “We wanted to take over the space, and we had a feeling that after some time, we would see some good results.”
Ratchada has indeed claimed positive regards, with Kongboon noting complimentary Yelp posts from guests who love the 55-seat operation’s ambience and variety.
“It’s been a great opportunity to show belief in ourselves,” she said of her first venture in the restaurant world and Supasri’s second. “We appreciate everyone who believes in us, too.”
Formerly an inhabitant of the 1700 block of Moore Street, the Overbrook dweller grew up living a very independent life in Bangkok, so Ratchada serves as an extension of her desire for autonomy. She and Supasri elected to share their venue’s recipe for Chu Chee Duck, with the latter individual doubling as Ratchada’s chef.
“It’s very popular,” he said of the $18.95 waterfowl plate. “We have good responses from Americans overall, but not many of them know about Chu Chee Duck, so this is our way to familiarize them with it.”
“It’s always been on our menu, so it says so much about us,” Kongboon added, noting that she and her ally include “Laos” in the name of the restaurant because of the country’s influence on the Northeastern part of Thailand’s nutritional identity. “We’re proud to share the recipe because of that.”
1 roast half duck (fully cooked and partially boned)
6 basil leaves
1 cup of coconut milk
1 teaspoon of Chu Chee curry paste (red curry paste optional)
1 teaspoon of granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon of paprika
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of chili paste
2 tablespoons of heavy cream
10 to 12 pieces of diced pineapple
Combine the Chu Chee curry paste, coconut milk, sugar, paprika, and salt in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Lower the heat, and add the chili paste, cream, and pineapple slices. Continue cooking on low heat for two to three minutes, stirring occasionally.
Fry the roast half duck at 325 degrees until crispy, taking perhaps 10 to 12 minutes. Fry the basil leaves at the same temperature for one to two minutes, and put them on a paper towel for later use.
Cut the duck, and place it on a serving plate. Warm the Chu Chee sauce, and pour it over the waterfowl. Garnish with the basil leaves, and serve with Thai jasmine rice and steamed mixed vegetables. ■
Ratchada Thai & Laos Cuisine
Owners: Phanida Kongboon and Sakesun Supasri
Opened: December 2012
1117 S. 11th St.