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Tasty Thailand: New owner makes changes to 22-year-old San Mateo restaurant
July 28, 2014, 05:00 AM By Kerry Chan Daily Journal

Kerry Chan/Daily Journal
Monica Buntora hustles to serve customers at Tasty Thai restaurant in downtown San Mateo. She bought the restaurant through an online ad and immediately moved from Huntington Beach.

Monica Buntora’s daughter, Michelle, helps at the family-operated Thai restaurant during summers.

 

When the owner of Tasty Thai in downtown San Mateo saw an online ad about a restaurant for sale, she jumped on a flight from Huntington Beach.

The only catch?

The new restaurant owner could serve any type of food except Chinese. The ad was placed by the owner of Bow Thai at 43 S. B St. and the lease did not allow for another Chinese restaurant to compete with China Bee just two doors down.

That was no problem for Chutima Buntora, affectionately known as Monica by her regulars, since she is from Thailand and had thought about starting her own business since she moved to the United States in 2007 with her children Patrick, 19, and Michelle, 17.

“It was perfect, I wanted a Thai restaurant so I can serve my country’s cuisine and when I called the number on the ad, it was a Thai lady on the other end,” Buntora said.

After 22 years in operation, the owner of Bow Thai was looking to sell the business and retire. Buntora spotted the ad on Craigslist and wasted no time booking a flight out to San Mateo to negotiate the sale.

“You have to find your opportunity and once you have it, you go for it,” said Buntora.

Within a few months, her boyfriend Frederick Donson and her children were painting, cleaning and renovating the restaurant into a sleek and modern urban space. The purple accents on the walls add color and liveliness to the ambiance that mirrors Buntora’s personality. She retained the main kitchen staff of Bow Thai but added her twist by altering the ingredients and spices to up the flavor ante of traditional menu offerings.

Buntora said she lived a comfortable life in Bangkok but immigrated to the United States for her children so they could be educated in the West and have a chance for a better future.

It is difficult to find a job in the U.S. with a Thai accent and lack of transferable skills, Buntora said. She said she thought of ways she could support her family and realized her love for food and Thai cuisine could equate to starting a restaurant.

Today, Buntora is often found sitting and chatting at the tables of her patrons if she is not busy in the kitchen overseeing the execution of orders. She speaks openly about the struggles of owning a restaurant but remains optimistic about the future while taking in the daily experience.

“I have no profit right now, my prices are low and reasonable so people can eat,” Buntora said, “but I’m getting busier because I don’t just sell food, I sell myself, I sell my passion, I sell my love.”

Must try dishes:

• Pad Thai, savory with a hint of sweetness and the chewable rice noodles pair well with fresh, crisp bean sprouts.

• Khao Soi, soup with thin egg noodles and chicken in a creamy red curry sauce. It is topped with a bed of crunchy fried noodles to add an element of texture while the cilantro, red onions and bean sprouts add freshness to contrast the rich flavors.

• Papaya Salad, shredded green papaya, tomatoes, and green beans tossed in a tangy and sweet dressing with a hint of garlic and red pepper spice.

• Pa-Naeng Curry, traditional Thai curry is light and simple yet flavorful. Served with a choice of meat, red and green bell peppers and basil.

Tasty Thai Restaurant is at 43 S. B St., San Mateo. For more information go to www.tastythaimenu.com or call (650) 340-8424.

 

 

Tags: buntora, restaurant, about, owner, could, noodles,


Other stories from today:

Burlingame post office could move to Primrose Road: U.S. Postal Service in negotiations after relocation deal falls through
Tasty Thailand: New owner makes changes to 22-year-old San Mateo restaurant
Solar labor dispute flares: Unions, contractor disagree over construction practices at San Mateo’s Nueva School
 

 
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