Wiley Frank.jpg
Photo by Leslie Kelly
Wiley Frank creates authentic Thai dishes each Monday at Licorous.
We're so fired up about the one-night-a-week "pop-up" restaurant from Lark

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Get a Load of Shophouse, Like No Other Thai Food in Seattle

Wiley Frank.jpg
Photo by Leslie Kelly
Wiley Frank creates authentic Thai dishes each Monday at Licorous.
We're so fired up about the one-night-a-week "pop-up" restaurant from Lark's well-seasoned sous chef Wiley Frank and his wife, Poncharee Kounpungchart, aka PK. On Mondays at Licorous, the two use pristine ingredients like Alaska spot prawns and draw inspiration from their recent year living in Thailand to create dishes that are truly authentic and dramatically delicious: charcoal-roasted ribs, curries made with pastes they've crafted, whimsical desserts. Which prompts the opening question on this week's Grillaxin: Why is this kind of cooking so rare here?

SW: Why does every Thai menu in this city sound almost identical?

Wiley: The Thai food that has developed here was created to please North American palates, it has worked and it is working. Thais came here to open businesses to support their families from pleasurable food that everyone would enjoy, not to challenge a few taste buds. Someone created the winning formula and it took off to every corner of the country.

How does food served in Thailand differ from food served in Thai restaurants here?

The differences are extreme. The typical family meal at home and in full-service restaurants has the sweet/sour/spicy/bitter/bland divided into many dishes, not just one dish. It is all about noshing, tasting, and putting your palate through a carnival ride. You can eat a bit of a hot jungle curry, eat some rice, eat a bit of ripping hot papaya salad, cool off with some cabbage, smooth it all out with grilled pork, then get all astringent with a bitter melon soup, and the cycle goes where you choose it.

Also, missing here is the variety of restaurants. Restaurants specializing in noodles, sweets, Northeastern, Southern, seafood, or even utilizing the local bounty we have here are difficult to find.

What were some of your most memorable meals during your year in Thailand?

There were so many. We had the best luck going to the source for meals. Such as at Kesorn restaurant in Tambon Khlong Khone, where they make shrimp paste. We had a meal based around shrimp paste and the foods caught and grown around there. The quality of fish and uniqueness of the ingredients made for an unforgettable experience.

What prompted your trip?

Many things. PK and I needed some inspiration. We wanted our son, then 3, to experience the motherland. We wanted our daughter to be born there and experience that ordeal. We wanted to connect with PK's family. PK wanted to take photos. Of course, we wanted to learn as much about the cuisine as possible.

Check back for part two of this week's Grillaxin Q&A for more from Wiley Frank.

 
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