Rua Thai Arrives in Brooklyn by Way of Thailandís Floating Markets

July 13, 2023, 8:39.46 pm ET  


Photos: Michael Tulipan                                                                                 

Festive Thai cuisine at Rua Thai in Brooklyn’s Cobble Hill neighborhood celebrates the famed floating markets of Thailand, where vendors offer food, handicrafts and souvenirs from traditional wooden boats afloat along the khlongs (canals).

Chef and co-owner Kornpon Theeraumpornkul grew up in the province of Ratchaburi in central Thailand, home to Damnoen Saduak, one of the largest and most famous floating markets in the country. Rua (rowboat in Thai) pays homage to the markets and his family, who sold food like fish curry custard, herbed fish salad and shrimp donuts at the market and also grew sugarcane, which he likes to incorporate in his cooking, as well as cocktails.

Having learned to cook from his grandmother as a teenager, Chef Kornpon used his skills working in restaurants when he moved to study in New York at age 18. After discovering his passion for cooking professionally and almost 20 years working in restaurants like Prem-on Thai and Yum Yum, he is opening his first restaurant with a few co-owners.

The menu features playful presentations like Fish Curry Custard with curry paste steamed in small cups; Shrimp Donuts stacked on a sugarcane stick; Mama Tom Yum Grilled River Prawns served over sauteed tom yum flavored ramen noodles flowing out of a Mama brand cup; Massaman Short Rib, six-hour braised short rib with potatoes, onion, and chestnuts in a thick coconut massaman curry; Pineapple Seafood Fried Rice with shrimp, mussels and calamari in a hollowed out pineapple; and Kai Tod Had Yai, the most popular southern Thai style fried chicken served with massaman curry dip and roti bread.

Cocktails are named for different districts in the Ratchaburi province where Chef Kornpon grew up, including Damnoen Saduak with tequila, elderberry kombucha and lime; Pho Ta Ram (a district in northern Ratchaburi) made with vodka, melon liqueur, and pineapple juice; and Chom Bueng (an area known for its many caves), a smoked drink, made with whisky, honey syrup, lime juice, sour mix and lemongrass. Zero-proof options are also available.

The 48-seat restaurant features a six-seat bar and communal table, photos of Thailand's floating markets on exposed brick walls with crystal chandeliers, and other authentic touches.

Rua Thai is located at 204 Smith Street in Brooklyn NY.  For more information, visit www.ruathai.com



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