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The City Journals

Sara Thai Kitchen offers authentic Thai cuisine in a family atmosphere

Feb 11, 2022 12:31PM ● By Peri Kinder

After 40 years of working as an executive chef at high-end restaurants in Las Vegas and New York, Chaisith (Ning) Crook brings his culinary experience and talents to Salt Lake City. With the opening of Sara Thai Kitchen, located at 60 E 800 South, Ning and his wife Sarunthon (Sara) want to provide authentic Thai dishes, just like their moms used to make.

“After everything with the pandemic, I was burned out. We needed a rest, so we came here to Utah,” Ning says. “It’s every chef’s dream to open their own place. It’s been on my bucket list.”

Ning reached out to the Thai community for support and they were able to refurbish the building to create a welcoming, relaxed atmosphere. Named after his wife, Sara Thai Kitchen is a family-owned restaurant where guests are invited to slow down, enjoy good food, have fun conversations and build relationships.

Customer favorites include the braised beef shank massaman curry, a conventional dish with an American flair. The green papaya salad has shredded papaya topped with tomatoes, shrimp, peanuts and long beans tossed in a spicy lime-chili vinaigrette, and the noodles and soups are robust and flavorful.

Sara Thai Kitchen offers five types of curry, plus bento box lunch specials, traditional desserts like mango sticky rice and mochi ice-cream, and the pad thai sauce is made fresh in-house, using a family recipe.

Ning says the Thai boat noodles served at Sara Thai Kitchen are based on the river chefs in Thailand. The chefs make a big pot of noodles, then take their boat down the river, selling bowls of fragrant and hearty noodles along the way. 

“This is food like mom used to make in Thailand,” he says. “We were taught if someone comes to your door and they’re hungry, you feed them.”

Along with his years of working as an executive chef, Ning is trained in French culinary arts. Sara’s parents owned a restaurant in Thailand when she was a child, and she grew up watching them serve good food while treating everyone like a valued family member. Their combined background in food service gives them years of experience to create the best restaurant.

“I want to share this experience with all the guests who come through the door,” Sara says. “They’re going to receive authentic food and hospitality.”

While the outside of the restaurant is deceiving, once inside, guests discover that Sara Thai Kitchen is a hidden gem, with its elephant-themed artwork, comfortable seating spaces and friendly service from Ning and Sara’s daughter and son. 

For more information, go to SaraThaiKitchen.com or visit @SaraThaiKitchen_SLC on Instagram.