The Portland power team behind Thai-Chinese restaurant Yaowarat will open the doors for dinner service today at 7937 SE Stark Street. The project is restaurateur Akkapong Earl Ninsom’s ode to Bangkok’s Chinatown. He told Eater Portland that when he returns to his hometown of Bangkok, he always finds himself back in Chinatown in search of late-night bowls of peppery noodle soup and desserts. Nimson’s restaurants (Langbaan, Hat Yai, Eem, PaaDee, and Phuket Cafe) pull inspiration from a specific region or cuisine of Thailand, and this one is no different with Thai-Chinese dishes like grilled squid, pickled cabbage salad, and mapo tofu.
Nimson brought on longtime cocktail collaborator Eric Nelson, former Sweedeedee chef Sam Smith, and Expatriate co-owner Kyle Linden Webster to work on Yaowarat. The group traveled to Yaowarat Road, the main thoroughfare in Bangkok’s Chinatown, to immerse themselves in culture and came back with ideas for the restaurant.
“We’re not trying to straight out emulate Chinatown,” says Nelson, “We’re more just trying to show people some of the things we saw and some of the feelings that we found when we were there.” The group also visited vintage shops in Bangkok and brought back lanterns, art, old movie posters, and other decor for Yaowarat in Portland.
Nelson says the group wants to do its best to honor the food and the merchants of Bangkok’s Chinatown. “We want to honor that and do it right,” he says, “And hopefully, people will come in and vibe with us.”
Yaowarat opens Wednesdays through Sundays, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.