For free monthly updates, event invitations and exclusive deals, sign-up for our newsletter!
Enter a keyword such as “Italian” or “Hamburgers” or type the name of the restaurant below.
March, 2011, Page 136
Photo by Richard Maack
BACK OF THE HOUSE
You’d never know that Nunthaporn Treekamol, owner of Nunthaporn’s Thai Cuisine in downtown Mesa, hates cooking. The food is so aromatic you can smell it wafting across Main Street. Customers rave about her curries and mango sticky rice. Yet she insists she has no love for working in a kitchen.
Treekamol’s grandmother taught her to cook but urged her to get an education. She earned an accounting degree and immigrated to the U.S. from Bangkok in 1972. Treekamol planned to continue with school but got sidetracked with marriage and children. She later went back and to this day works full-time as a computer programmer while waiting for the restaurant to turn a profit.
Before opening Nunthaporn’s in 2009, for five years she helped her brother and boyfriend run Benjarong Thai, a well-loved but well-hidden restaurant in a not-so-pretty west Mesa strip mall. Customers and friends urged her to find a better location, so she eventually took over the former Christel’s Bavarian Deli.
“Nunthaporn” might not roll off the tongue any easier than “Benjarong,” but she doesn’t mind. “My name means ‘a thousand blessings,’” Treekamol says, “and I need every one of them.”
If you don’t like cooking, why did you open a restaurant?
It started when my brother came to visit. I took him out to dinner, and it wasn’t quite the food we grew up with. So he said, “Why don’t you open a restaurant that serves good food?” Growing up in Thailand, panang is just meat and sauce. Here, they put bell pepper, carrot, onions in it. I’ve never seen it before. So we missed real food, so we opened [a restaurant]. I still hate cooking, but I can cook.
So you do some of the cooking?
Mostly I do the curry, and I cook the soup. Soup is my specialty. There’s a lot of old-fashioned dishes that nobody offers. Sometimes (I cook) when I have a special party and they tell me ahead of time.... All my friends who know me laughed when I told them I own a restaurant. I never thought it would be my calling. I’ve come to love the customers.
Do people order spicy dishes and then can’t eat them?
I have a few. Please mention that Thai food is not all spicy. Some of it is not spicy at all. I don’t eat spicy food. My cooking’s all more from the center part of Thailand. My cousin eats Thai chile like candy. I couldn’t deal with that. That’s one complaint about my restaurant is the customers say we don’t make it spicy enough.
What if you want it spicy? Which dishes do you recommend?
We sell a dish called Evil Jungle Princess. It’s similar to the soup tom kha – a little drier version of it. It can be hot. Green curry. Most dishes you can make spicy. Mussaman and yellow curry, when you do it way too spicy, I don’t think it tastes right. But the customer is No. 1.
Owner, Nunthaporn’s Thai Cuisine
17 W. Main St., Mesa
© 2007 Copyright Phoenix Magazine 15169 N. Scottsdale Road Suite C310 Scottsdale Arizona 85254
Travel & Outdoors
Best of The Valley
Phoenix Home & Garden Magazine
Advertise With Us
Web Site Design