How This Chef Brought Authentic Thai Flavors to Souris

This is part 2 of a three-part series in May—Asian Heritage Month—about the people who brought Asian flavors to rural Prince Edward Island. You can find part 1 here.

Gas Anusorn loves it whenever he can buy lots of ripe, sweet mangoes for a bargain in Charlottetown. He said that when he is able to do so, he brings them back to his restaurant in Souris, prepares large batches of mango sticky rice – a popular Thai dessert – and then gives it to customers who order anything. at the restaurant.

It’s her way of educating people in the community about Thai cuisine, Anusorn said.

“People here love it.”

Anusorn is the owner and chef of Souris Thai Food. He opened the restaurant last year, and since then he has heard a lot of good comments about Thai cuisine from members of the community, he said.

Thi Arunvipas, left, is the director of Souris Thai Food. He helps Anusorn, in the middle, run the restaurant, take orders from customers, and manage the restaurant’s social media accounts. (Thinh Nguyen/CBC)

“Glad we are representing Thailand”

It has not always been so. The restaurant struggled at first because few people in Souris knew the cuisine and were hesitant to try it, manager Thi Arunvipas said. But over time, things changed.

“People here didn’t even know about Thai food the first week the business opened,” he said. “And when they taste it, they’re like, ‘Wow, Thai food is amazing.'”

A favorite dish of his customers, Arunvipas said, is mango sticky rice, or khao niaow ma muang, made with sticky rice boiled with coconut milk, giving the rice a rich flavor and aromatic scent of walnuts. coconut.

The cooked rice is served with a sweet coconut milk sauce, and what makes it special is that the sauce is boiled with pandan leaves – a tropical plant used in many Asian countries – to bring out an aroma soft and soothing, said Arunvipas.

Mango sticky rice is a popular street food in Thailand. (Thinh Nguyen/CBC)

The finishing touch is juicy ripe mango slices on top or on the side.

“When we mix it and eat it with the sweet mango, it will have the aroma, the taste of [sweetness], the smell of coconut, pandan leaves. It’s very delicious,” he said.

Another popular dish is pad thai. Arunvipas said the chef tries to make the dish as authentic as possible, sticking to the four key flavors of Thai cuisine: sweet, sour, salty and spicy.

The salty flavor comes from the fish sauce, the sour from the tamarind and lime, and the spiciness from the ground dried chillies, although the chef tends to make the pad thai less spicy as he has found that many locals don’t cannot eat spicy food, Arunvipas said.

And for sweetness, the chef uses palm sugar, which is much better than refined white sugar, he said, because not only is it sweet, but it also has a pleasant aroma and caramel taste.

Pad thai is a popular restaurant dish and the chef tries to make it as authentic as possible, says Arunvipas. (Thinh Nguyen/CBC)

Residents of Souris and nearby communities give good reviews of the restaurant’s Thai dishes in person and through social media, Arunvipas said.

“It makes me a little happy that we represent Thailand and Thai cuisine.”

“People here are really nice”

For owner Gas Anusorn, opening the restaurant was not just because of his passion for cooking, he said, but also because of his love for rural Prince Edward Island.

He and his family arrived in Halifax in 2007, where he worked for 10 years as a cook, Anusorn said. Then, he moved to a few other provinces before settling in Souris where his wife found a job in a local company.

He used to feel unsafe in big cities while now enjoying the sense of community in Souris, Anusorn said.

“Souris is a small town, people [are] really nice. You walk down the road and people say hello to you. The people here are definitely friendlier than the big cities.”

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