Friday
Mar112011

Authentic Thai food in the heart of New Britain

By Scott Whipple

NEW BRITAIN — Whether it’s the Drunken Noodles (Wok-tossed noodles with hot Thai chili) or Pad Thai (stir-fried rice noodles) there are mouth-watering dishes waiting to tease your palate at Mae Kong.

The city’s newest restaurant opened for business Thursday.

The space was originally occupied by Texas Lunch, then passed through a couple of owners. But Oumaphone Siboriboun, 32, was determined to make it into an establishment that would appeal to businesspeople working nearby.

Siboriboun, a U.S.citizen, owned a restaurant in Laos. She wanted to start a similar business in the U.S. and name it Mae Kong for the river that separates Thailand and Laos.

“New Britain is our home town,” Siboriboun said. “My husband and I came here in the 1980s. We love the city. Now we want to expand our business.”

Her husband runs a grocery store on Allen Street while she and her brother-in-law, Poukong, are managing Mae Kong. Her sister-in-law, Veingsong Siboriboun, does most of the cooking.

Jim Calciano of Bristol owns Courtside Commons that houses Mae Kong and other tenants in the block.

“I convinced Oumaphone to restore the beauty of the original ceiling,” said Calciano, who estimates the business sold for $20,000. Although restoring the ceiling called for hard work and added expense, her willingness to enhance the restaurant reinforced Calciano’s belief that she’s in it for the long haul. He believes that with Pierre’s Courtside Café and Peppino’s Pizza, the stretch of Main Street could become a sort of Restaurant Row.

“People will travel to a good Thai restaurant,” said Gerry Amodio, downtown district director. “I see this as another step in making New Britain a destination city for people looking for fine dining.”

Added Stephen Hard of the New Britain Arts Alliance, “I love Thai food. I’ve been traveling to Middletown to get it. Now that Mae Kong is open I don’t need to drive 20 minutes.”

Mae Kong, at 26 Main St., seats 32. The restaurant is open Mondays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Discover, MasterCard and Visa accepted. Call (860) 505-0791 for reservations and arrangements for catering and private parties. Take out is available.

« Historic city building gets new life as first-floor retail space, apartments | Main