Last fall, a new Thai concept debuted in Webster Groves. Chiang Mai is now open for curbside pickup and delivery, cooking up a menu of traditional northern Thai fare.
The concept comes from chef-owner Su Hill, who bought the space from her sister, restaurateur Ann Bognar of renowned sushi restaurant Nippon Tei. Bognar previously operated Tei Too, a Thai and Asian fusion eatery, in the space; that's where her son, James Beard Award-nominated chef Nick Bognar of Indo, began to develop his own career in hospitality.
With Chiang Mai, Hill hopes to bring a taste of her hometown to the Old Orchard neighborhood, joining area businesses including Balkan Treat Box, Frisco Barroom and Guerrilla Street Food. Coming from a long line of passionate cooks, Hill brings family traditions and plenty of experience in the industry to the table. She also owns another restaurant called Bistro Saffron in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, which serves pan-Asian cuisine.
“I want to do this because I really miss my mom’s cooking,” Hill says, citing fond memories of learning how to cook from her mother, who would use fresh ingredients picked daily from the family garden.
“My whole family is in St. Louis. I thought to myself that it would be great if I could someday move up here and be with the family and do true Northern Thai food,” she says. “I think it will be really awesome if we can just go forward and use real Thai spice and just don't hold back.”
Highlights from the menu include sai oua, a housemade grilled pork sausage with aromatic spices and fresh herbs including makrut lime, coriander, galangal and lemongrass. Another popular small plate option is an iconic Chiang Mai dish: sakoo sai moo, or tapioca dumplings with minced pork, chicken and peanut filling, served with lettuce, cilantro and Thai chile peppers.
Entrée options include gaeng hung lay, or braised curry pork with garlic and ginger. Hill also features her mother’s recipe for khao munn gai, a comforting dish common in Chiang Mai made up of steamed chicken with rice, chicken broth and sauces. Her larb khua, a sautéed spicy minced pork, features a unique blend of 16 different toasted and ground spices, served with steamed or sticky rice and fresh herbs and vegetables.
“I’m very excited and hope you can try some of our food. I’m really proud of everything,” she says. “Although my sister did really well with Tei Too, she did it for so long. This will be great. We can bring something new to the table.”
Chiang Mai is currently open Tuesday through Saturday from 11am to 8pm for curbside pickup and delivery.
Chiang Mai, 8158 Big Bend Blvd., Webster Groves, St. Louis, Missouri, 314.961.8889, chiangmaistl.com