sòo raa thai

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By Patty Schaller

Executive Chef Benjawan Kumnodsri.

Executive Chef Benjawan Kumnodsri.

The hottest new restaurant in Toluca Lake isn’t new at all. Soo Raa Thai opened two years ago, but thanks to renovations and a brand-new menu, the restaurant has reinvented itself and the transformation is sensational!

According to executive chef and business partner Benjawan Kumnodsri, Soo Raa Thai has made some innovative changes to its menu. “We adapted Thai food with Italian and French. All of the recipes are my own. I make a lot of sauces and I even make my own pickles!”

All of the food is organic and fresh from the farmers’ markets, said Kumnodsri, who is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu and who grew up in a food-oriented family in Thailand where her family owned a restaurant.

She delights in creating mouth-watering desserts including Mango Sticky Rice and her own special-recipe cheesecake.

Clockwise from Top Left: Garlic Shrimp Risotto, Homemade Coconut Crème Brûlée, and Glazed Honey Salmon with Rice Salad.

Clockwise from Top Left: Garlic Shrimp Risotto, Homemade Coconut Crème Brûlée, and Glazed Honey Salmon with Rice Salad.

“I want people to know about Thai food in a different way. Everybody thinks of it as fast food. I want them to experience it as fine dining,” she says.

A look around at the contemporary décor, the linens, glassware, and flowers on each table bear that out. Walls are grey stone, service is impeccable.

A highlight among the mixed drinks is the Tomyum, made with lemon grass, kafaline leaves, herbs, a touch of chili, and galangal, a Thai liquor. If you want something exotic as well as delicious, this is your drink. Other popular choices are Basil and Lychee Martinis.

According to Kumnodsri, the most popular dishes are Samui Shrimp, a deep-fried coconut shrimp with curry lemon aioli; Crab Rangoon; Soo Raa Risotto; and Drunken Fettuccini, stir fried with chili basil and seafood.

Drunken Fettuccini with Shrimp at Soo Raa Thai.

Drunken Fettuccini with Shrimp at Soo Raa Thai.

It is really hard to believe, as you read the menu, that there isn’t one item more expensive than $20. Dishes on the menu have names like Candy Calamari (deep-fried calamari tossed with sweet chili); chicken, beef, shrimp, vegetarian, and soy chicken entrees such as Soo Raa Pad Thai (thin noodles, bean sprouts, egg, and peanut); curries; soups; and appetizers.

Owner with her husband Tommy, Syerra wants their neighbors to come in “and feel comfy. We want them to know our food is not the same as your typical Thai restaurant. People around here eat vegetarian, healthy food like our Drunken Fettuccini. For the vegetarian enthusiast, this is the only place for you to be! We never use MSG. We want them to take another look at Thai food.

“Soo Raa Thai is our gift to the neighborhood.”

Soo Raa Thai is located at 10650 Riverside Dr. in Toluca Lake. To make reservations, call (818) 505-8216 or visit sooraa.net. Order online at sooraa.com. “Like” them at facebook.com/sooraathai. Credit cards are accepted. No checks.

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