By James Cullum
Old Town loves its Asian food. With the opening of Red Curry in October, competition has increased for Mai Thai, Thai Old Town, Red Mei, Bumblefish Sushi, Sushi Ichiban and Momo Sushi, Flying Fish and Asian Bistro. Red Curry, located at 100 King Street, serves Pan Asian, Thai, Japanese, Indian, Indonesian and vegetarian fare.
Woody Tongrugs owns Red Curry, two Mai Thai restaurants and two Thai Phoon restaurants. Mai Thai, located at 6 King Street, is a stone’s throw away from Red Curry. The restaurant has seen numerous owners over the years and was most recently home to 100 King, a short-lived Mediterranean restaurant. “It’s hard to separate the two restaurants [Mai Thai and Red Curry]. The thing is that Asian Thai is quite popular and we’ve gotten used to cooking and eating it and knowing how to control it,” Tongrugs said. “This is a tough location, people say, and they tell me that this place has had a few different owners and it hasn’t worked out, but we can make it work. One main difference for us is the bar area. We try to have more of the bar scene here.”
Tongrugs said he put $700,000 in renovations for Red Curry. Deep reds and mustard yellow paint lend warmth to the two-level restaurant, which seats more than 160 diners. The second floor can be reserved for private parties. And just like Mai Thai, Red Curry delivers. “So far, business has been okay, but I can’t really tell if its been because we haven’t done a good job or because of the economy. It’s too early to tell,” Tongrugs said.
Tongrugs and his wife, Udom, believe in family. The pair have lived in the area for 37 years and employ their children, nieces, nephews, in-laws and friends. “These are all people who you can trust and who want to learn. Everybody works as a team,” Tongrugs said. “Besides, I’m getting old. I want to retire someday.”