Lexington gets a taste of Thailand

Nuoya Zhou

Looking to spice up your dinner? Napa Thai Cuisine, which opened on Jan. 18 on Main Street, might be right for you.

According to restaurant owner Suparat Prapong, who runs the business with her boyfriend and aunt, business has been great since Napa Thai first opened up. Prapong and her boyfriend have 90 percent of the share while her aunt takes 10 percent of the share.

“We really appreciate Washington and Lee students’ support,” Prapong said. “Before we opened, we did not do any advertising. No one knew us. But the students walked in to try the food. I know the waiting time is long, but they are so patient and nice. Thank you so much”.

Many students and faculty have enjoyed the food that they have tried so far.

“I was skeptical because I have never had Thai food anywhere else that was as good as the restaurant in my hometown, but I was so pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food,” Alison Masson, ‘18, said. “It was definitely worth the wait”.

Prapong said that the most popular dishes have been the Pad Thai and Drunken Noodles. The owners created the menu based on their past experiences working at other Thai restaurants.

“I tried the Pad Thai and it was actually pretty good, though a little bit too salty,” Jane Seul Ki Kim, ‘17, said. “My boyfriend had red curry, and when they asked mild, medium, or hot for spicy level, he chose the spiciest one and got what he asked for.”

Associate professor of Chinese, Yanhong Zhu agreed after ordering eight dishes and two appetizers with her some of her friends.

“I think it is really authentic,” Zhu said. “One of the dish was slightly salty, but overall I think it is really delicious.”

Originally from Thailand, Prapong worked as a waitress at Thai restaurants for seven years. While she was taking English classes in the U.S., she started thinking about opening a Thai restaurant herself.

Prapong saved some money for the rent and contacted her friends to work for her, who are now the

chefs of the restaurant. She then visited several potential places to open up the business with her aunt and boyfriend. Prapong said she picked Lexington because her aunt really liked the town and because there was no Thai food in the area.

“I am glad that our town has a Thai food restaurant now,” Zhu said. “We used to have one a few years ago, but it was not authentic. We always had to drive to Staunton, Charlottesville, or Roanoke for Thai food. It is a really needed and welcomed restaurant. We wanted to have a diversified campus and town. This Thai restaurant really brings the diversity to the town.”

But Prapong was also aware of the potential drop of her business in the long term.

“We just opened, so people are still coming to try it out,” Prapong said. “I know the business might change a little bit with the seasonal change, especially when the school is closed in the summer and the students will go back to home. But our food has good quality and good tastes”.

Prapong also wanted to open up another restaurant in the future, but not until she finds another good location.

They are also thinking of adding more options to the menu. They are considering adding Crab Puffs and a Beef Salad as appetizers, as well a New York Steak as an entree.

“Some people don’t know what to order when they first came, but they just want to eat here, so we want to provide them choices with some food they knew, and they don’t have to eat only with the Thai food,” Prapong said.