BELFAST—Belfast will soon have a new Thai restaurant named Fon’s Kitchen at 132 High Street, opening March 31.
Fon, which means falling rain in the Thai language, just so happens to be co-owner, Sarunya Rock’s nickname.
Sarunya, who grew up in Bangkok, felt she needed a change and moved to the U.S.
“I found an opportunity to come to the states, working in hospitality for a year, so I applied without knowing where I end up,” she said. “I didn’t even know Maine when I showed up. I got a job at Natalie’s Restaurant at the Camden Harbour Inn and began my life here.”
Her family was a big influence on her cooking.
“When I was in middle school, my parents had a good-size Thai restaurant on our property—not too fancy, but a place where people would show up early in the morning and enjoy all day,” she said. “My mother was the manager, but sometimes she had to cook when the chef did not show up. I was helping mostly in the front, running food, busing tables, helping prep in the kitchen, doing dishes, and whatever else needed to be done.”
Sarunya said she loves the restaurant industry and always had an eye on opening her own restaurant.
“After Natalie’s, I worked at the Waterfront Restaurant as a server for almost seven years,” she said. “When I found the restaurant space in Belfast had become available, I was very interested. There were several people looking at the space, but I believe everything came together at the perfect time in my life to make this work out for us.”
Her husband, Dan Rock, has been renovating the space for the last three months with a new pale green color scheme, different lighting, and artworks.
The menu is “all Sarunya” said Dan.
“She’s a great cook and I call her a ‘curry genius.’ She makes her own dumplings from scratch using as many local ingredients as possible from local businesses. I’ve yet to have any dumplings in this state as good as hers.”
“Well, I think my husband might be a little biased,” Sarunya said. “As a food lover, when I came to Maine, I realized I would never be able to find the street food I enjoyed so much back home in Thailand. I started watching YouTube and learned how to cook the food I was missing. Dumplings are one of my favorite Thai appetizers that I enjoy making and eating. The secret to making a good dumpling is to ground your own meat. We normally get our pork shoulder from local sources, grind and marinate the meat with Thai seasonings and herbs overnight. I can’t wait for people to come in and try the dumplings for themselves, and see if my husband is biased, or completely correct!”
Fon’s Kitchen’s menu is simple with appetizers, main dishes, sides, and desserts. It features Thai staples such as Pad Thai, Drunken Noodle, Pad Kra Pow, and two kinds of curries.
“I think the stir-fried Sukiyaki will be a popular dish,” she said. “My version is a Thai take on a traditional Japanese dish. Basically, Sukiyaki is a stir-fried bean thread noodle, with a choice of protein and mixed vegetables with Sukiyaki sauce (red bean curd). The Thai version is cooked and served a bit differently than the traditional Japanese way and I think people will love it.”
Sarunya’s dream is to make her restaurant as comfortable as her family’s space in Bangkok.
“All you need is consistency, good food, good drinks, good service, and a calm inviting atmosphere,” she said. “But, the most important part is, you need to enjoy what you doing, then everyone else will enjoy it, too!”
To see Fon’s Kitchen’s menu and updates on their opening visit their Facebook page
Kay Stephens can be reached at email@example.com