Restaurant owners adding spice to downtown

Sisavanh Keoninh and Ubonvadee Tui are running Enumclaw’s Bangkok Thai Restaurant these days. - To view or buy photos go to   Photo by John Leggett
Sisavanh Keoninh and Ubonvadee Tui are running Enumclaw’s Bangkok Thai Restaurant these days.
— image credit: To view or buy photos go to Photo by John Leggett

As sure as the sun rises in the east, the Bangkok Thai Restaurant will dish out authentic cuisine every day of the year, except Christmas and Thanksgiving.

As the owners roll into their fifth year in their downtown Enumclaw location, there was just one other time when the Bangkok Thai was closed for the day.

“When the Seahawks were in the Super Bowl in 2005, we had a huge NFL football celebration at our house, but thanks to the lousy referees messing up on several calls, Seattle lost. Very disappointing,” said Sisavanh “Joe” Keoninh, an avid Seahawk fan and the head chef and owner of the restaurant along with his partner Ubonvadee Tui.

“I’ve never seen anybody who likes to cook so much,” Tui said of her partner. “He works hard in this kitchen all day long here, but when he comes home he always wants to watch the Food Network, especially Iron Chef. And he also cooks dinner for me at home.”

While Keoninh concentrates on the culinary delights served in his little piece of Thailand in Enumclaw, Tui is very much the detail person, monitoring every aspect of the Asian eatery to make sure it continues to measure up to her demanding standards.

“Make no mistake about it, she is the boss in this place,” Keoninh said with a grin. “We met at the Thai Buddhist Temple in Seattle and were close friends for years before going into business and a relationship together.”

He notes that everything featured in their establishment is fresh, including the vegetables and spices. Also, the savory meals are usually family style and the most authentic around.

“We travel all the way to China Town in Seattle at least once a week to get the genuine spices used in our Thai cooking,” Tui said.

On the topic of Thai food, Tui – who, like Keoninh, was born and raised in Thailand – aims to dispel the myth about the spiciness of Thai food.

“Being as the food is served in large portions, it is up to the individual how hot they wish to make their own portion, because people have different tastes and definitions of what ‘hot’ is,” she said.

Bangkok Thai uses a “star system” to tell how hot a dish might be.

“Initially the food is served with just the right mixture of spices to make the dish tasty and delicious,” Tui said. “Then you tell your server you want the rack of spices ranging from five stars, which is extremely hot and spicy, to one star which is actually quite mild yet still very authentic.”

Tui and Keoninh enjoy having an enterprise in Enumclaw because the people are generous and friendly, they say.

“In return we try to give our customers great service and extra large portions of seafood, chicken, pork, rice and noodles for reasonable prices,” noted Keoninh, who has cooked most of his life and has worked at some of the largest hotels in Seattle.

Bangkok Thai Restaurant is at 1240 Griffin Ave., is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and can be reached at 360-802-0950.

To comment on this story view it online at Reach John Leggett at or 360-802-8207.

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