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Petaluma Magazine Fall 2007

It may come as no surprise that Petaluma's favorite Thai spot. Sea Modern Thai Cuisine, has been named best Asian restau­rant by Best of Petaluma voters for the second year in a row. Much to the credit of both their loyal and new customers, Sea Thai welcomed the summer by opening a new restaurant in Santa Rosa. But let's face it - Petaluma is where Sea Thai got its start and where chef Tony Ounpamornchai is proving that his culinary family has something big to offer.

"Chef Tony," as he's known, is a graduate of the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco but got his real hands-on edu­cation even before cooking school by helping out at his aunt and uncle's Thai restaurant, Jhan Thong, in Santa Rosa and San Rafael. The chef claims his real training started with his father, who was a chef at a five-star hotel in Thailand. Perhaps the restaurant business runs in his blood. Tony's sis­ter, AcharaThongsilp, runs the business end of things. And Tony, arelatively new chef, has found a niche for his personal style of Thai cooking.

"I do a lot of east meets west," he says. "Cooking with wine is my favorite because we live in the middle of wine country."
Tony denies having a signature dish, though. He creates new menu items every two weeks, resulting in an eclectic offer­ing of specials. He boasts that most new dishes are devised while he commutes around Sonoma County.

Many Sea Thai diners have come to know the restaurant's popular Granny Smith salad ($7). According to Tony, a drive past Sebastopol inspired the com­bination of tart apples, lemon-lime vin­aigrette, toasty cashews, cilantro, mango dressing, and some heat to knock you over a little - making this salad a truly Sonoma County dish. Sea Thai's dishes are not just high in taste - they look fabulous, too. The wow factor seems to be wrapped up in Tony's creative presentation. Just try the martini crispy prawns ($8) to see for yourself.

Sea Modern Thai Cuisine has just be­gun its climb to fame. Tony is currently working on a cookbook for publication in the spring, and has had to turn down several attempts by a friend at the Food Network because he's determined to focus on his two restaurants for the moment. Clearly, there's a lot more to come from this local restaurateur.

Metro Hotel, Petaluma, California 707-773-4900
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