Boua Thai is a family affair
April 14, 2009
Jeff McWilliams knows how to cook some Thai dishes. His wife is from Thailand. Her mother is the head chef at a Thai restaurant they run together. He’s around a kitchen all the time. Still, unlike other Asian foods, not just anybody can make Thai.
"There are so many ingredients to put in I do a lot of prep work helping out where I can," he said. "It has layers of flavor with peppers, lime juice and seasonings."
The popularity of Thai food has resulted in at least one restaurant in every large community. McWilliams’ place, Boua Thai at the base of Park City Mountain Resort, sets itself apart by striving for absolute authenticity.
"A lot of places will Americanize the food and make it sweeter. We do everything very traditional," he said.
They import as many ingredients as possible. The family matriarch, Suraporn Popps, runs the kitchen with her daughter, Diane McWilliams, and occasionally her sister in Thailand will come during ski season.
Scott Dudevoir works at the Resort Center and eats at Boua Thai almost weekly.
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"I’ve heard people who’ve been to Thailand say it’s the most authentic Thai meal you’re going to get around here," he said. "I think they do a great job."
Diane McWilliams said the curry dishes are their most popular, and they were also a staple in her home growing up.
"Mom always made curry for us and we grew up with them," she said.
Running a restaurant is so much fun because she gets to share that with other people, she said.
"It’s a nice feeling when they leave your restaurant happy and have experienced something they haven’t experienced in the past," she added.
But not Americanizing the food doesn’t mean Boua Thai is too snooty to take requests. Jeff McWilliams said they will customize to any wish. More spicy, less spicy, less lime, more lime they aim to please.
"We’ll make anything to their liking and taste. We’ll cater to each individual person," he said.
It’s important to the family that guests feel welcome at Boua Thai, he said. Suraporn and her husband Sherwood Popps are the owners. The McWilliams both work in the restaurant as does their sister-in-law Susan McGraw.
"It’s definitely a family affair so we try to promote a very family-friendly atmosphere. We want people to feel comfortable in our restaurant so it’s a lot more casual than other places in Park City. We want people to feel at home," he said.
A boua is a beautiful flower in Thailand that looks like a water lily. Diane McWilliams did most of the décor inside and strived to make it beautiful while keeping with their commitment to authenticity.
The authentic food, comfortable atmosphere and pleasant ambiance have made Boua Thai popular with locals since it opened in September 2007.
Diane McWilliams said word-of-mouth recommendations are the primary way people hear of them.
Boua Thai will stay open past the closing of PCMR, but may have reduced hours until June. This spring the restaurant is regularly open from noon to 9 p.m. on weekdays and may stay open an hour later on Fridays and Saturdays, Jeff McWilliams said.
The restaurant is easy to find on the first floor of the Resort Center close to Cole Sport and the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.