Chaba Thai is the newest resident of Linwood’s Central Square, under the direction of husband and wife Ben and Sandy Phraudomporn.
Linwood’s Central Square has been one of the region’s premier upscale shopping centers since opening in the mid 1970s.
The collection of attached shops is described on its official Web site as “a picture post card village of shopping and business services” providing a “quaint charm.”
What the Square hasn’t had — except for the consistently excellent Cheese Board — for some time has been exciting dining options. That all changed over the last few months as pair of new tenants, Roman Grill and Chaba Thai, have taken up residence.
Roman Grill is the more formal offshoot of a well-regarded successful casual eatery, New Road’s nearby Rose’s Garden Grill. Chaba — meaning “hibiscus flower” in Thai, symbol of prosperity and good luck — is the nascent creation of husband and wife team Jimtachao (“Ben”) and Sandy Phraudomporn.
The Phraudomporns, both native to Bangkok, met while working together in Washington D.C.-area restaurants. But their story goes much deeper than that. Chef Ben, a baby-faced 36-year-old, was previously a Buddhist monk for nearly 20 years. He arrived in America to help his order open a new religious facility in Houston, Texas. Eventually tiring of the simple, monastic life, he left to pursue a culinary career.
“I had a dream to become a sushi chef,” he says.
Already well-versed in Thai cuisine from his familial background, Ben started at the bottom in Japanese kitchens, spending his first year doing little more than learning how to properly make rice. Working consecutively in Saratoga Springs, New York, Cleveland, Fort Lauderdale and eventually D.C., he toiled at and honed his craft over the last six years.
The resulting cuisine is both authentically Thai and a sort of rare hybrid, given the inclusion of spectacular sushi as well. The duo found out about their current location courtesy of Sandy’s sister Pom Devers, the owner/operator of a self-named salon in Central Square since the mid ’90s.
She encouraged them to consider relocating because “it’s a beautiful location — Linwood is really, really gorgeous.”
“I liked Central Square because we want to be family-oriented here,” adds Sandy. Also helping launch the venture has been Ben’s brother Chatchai Suwannasin, a recently retired Navy veteran.
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