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RECIPE of the MONTH - November 2007

Singha Thai Restaurant: Food Fit for the King of Lions
By Annabelle Numaguchi

Singha Thai Restaurant
Wat , second from left, and Jojo, third from left, and some of their busy staff.

When Jojo and Wat Bamrungmuang decided to open a Thai restaurant in Moab, they chose the name Singha, meaning the King of Lions, a powerful talisman for good fortune. Jojo and Wat opened Singha on August 29, and Moab has responded to their brand of fresh, authentic dishes.

Thai cuisine is unique. While it borrows from both Chinese and Indian cuisine, it is distinctly different from either one. As a crossroads of East to West sea routes, Thai food is also infused with flavors from Persia and Arabia. Balance is important, as well as incorporating all 5 flavors: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and spicy. Noodles and rice are the basis for most dishes. And speaking of spicy, Thai dishes are often perceived as uniformly hot, but this is in error. Singha offers dishes ranging from not at all hot, to burn off all your taste buds hot. Your choice, just tell your server.

Freshness is the hallmark of good Thai cooking. Chef Wat adapts recipes to use vegetables in season and all dishes are individually prepared, nothing sits waiting on a steam table. All sauces are made in-house, and Wat continually creates new dishes. Traditional Thai ingredients come from Salt Lake City, or from buying trips to Chinatown in Los Angeles. Must-have ingredients include basil, lemongrass, lime leaves, fish sauce, fresh garlic, lemon juice, and Thai chile peppers. Freshness is so important that Wat undercooks carry-out orders so that the food finishes cooking on the way home, arriving crisp and tasty, rather than soggy.

If tea is your drink, Singha is the place for tea. They offer 24 different teas ranging from Organic Premium Green Tea to Red Tea Rooibos to Jamaican Butter Rum Tea.

When Jojo, Wat, and Wat’s 6-year-old daughter, Joopy, came to Moab, they already had extensive experience in the restaurant business. Jojo trained at the Marriott Hotels in management. Wat began his training as a chef from the age of 17 at a restaurant in Palm Springs. Jojo was born in Bangkok and came to the USA in 1994. Wat comes from Yasothon, a town in northeast Thailand, and came to this country in 1995. Just prior to moving to Moab, they ran successful Thai restaurants in Colorado. When they decided to move on, they chose Moab because there was no Thai restaurant, and they liked the area. Jojo says that people have been so welcoming, “We call Moab home already.”

One of the foundations to Singha’s success is teamwork. Jojo manages and Wat cooks, but in a push, they both do anything that needs doing in a busy kitchen: slicing and dicing, dish washing--anything to assist their staff of 5 to keep things running smoothly. However, Wat is the only cook and is so particular about it that Jojo says he will let her cook “only under close supervision.” Wat laughs. They routinely put in 14-hour days.
This kind of teamwork pays off in return customers, most of whom are locals. With authentic Thai artwork infusing the décor, Jojo and Wat have created a comfortable, visually interesting, reasonably priced place to eat and linger. The only trouble is, they are so busy that most people see the line forming and don’t linger.
Such is the price of success.

The King of Lions is smiling on Singha.

Recipe of the Month

SINGHA

Chicken Red Curry

1 can coconut milk – (14-ounce)
1/2 tablespoons red curry paste
1/3 cup basil leaves -- coarsely chopped
1 pound chicken breast halves -- cut in 1” cubes
1/2 medium red or green bell pepper -- julienned
1 medium carrot -- shredded
1 medium zucchini -- shredded
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons fish sauce (can substitute salt to taste)
1 cup or less chicken stock
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

HEAT the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. ADD the curry paste and cook, stirring, for a minute. ADD the coconut milk, stock, fish sauce, salt, then bring to the boil. ADD the chicken, red pepper, carrot and zucchini, cover with a lid, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 12 minutes. Add basil leaves and serve over rice or steamed noodles.

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