A new destination for Thai food from the family behind the city’s longest-standing Thai restaurant, King & I, opens soon in The Grove’s CHROMA development. Chao Baan debuts on Wed., June 26 with dinner service, featuring rustic regional cooking from southern and northeastern Thailand.
As reported by Feast last year, the concept comes from Shayn Prapaisilp and his father, Suchin. In addition to King & I, which opened nearly 40 years ago, The Prapaisilps also own and operate Global Foods Market, Oishi Sushi, Oishi Steakhouse and United Provisions.
Space Architecture + Design developed the approximately 3,700-square-foot space, which features a clean, modern look with a blue, orange and gray color scheme juxtaposed with blonde wood. Eighty seats are available on premise, with another 20 to be added on a front patio. Basket-like light fixtures are a focal point of the dining room, evoking the imagery of fishing nets.
Chao Baan, which translates to “of the people” in Thai, features dishes from northeast (Esaan) and southern (Pak Tai) regions of Thailand, with roots in Yala and Loei provinces. Shayn’s mother is from the former, which is closer to Laos, while his father hails from the latter, which is closer to Malaysia. According to Shayn, the Northeast utilizes a lot of bright citrus, fish sauce and fresh vegetables and herbs, while Southern cooking features a lot of dry heat and ingredients such as turmeric.
“These are the foods I grew up eating, and for my parents, it’s the way their parents cooked for them. It’s homey comfort food that families enjoy at home,” Shayn says. “We’re really encouraging folks to come get three or four plates to share and eat with rice together.”
The lunch menu features a selection of seven items such as kanom jeen nam ya, or vermicelli noodles served with a sweet and spicy gravy, topped with greens. For dinner, choose from highlights such as one of Shayn’s personal favorites, khao tod nam sod, or rice mixed with spicy curry paste and then fried twice, served with pork sausage, ginger and cilantro.
Another unique offering is gaeng som, which is one of Southern Thailand’s most famous dishes with white fish simmered in a broth with turmeric, chiles and lime juice. For an interesting appetizer, try the jaew sampler, which features crudites with a combination of three dips: jaew bong (chiles, galangal), nam prik noom (shallots and chilies), and nam prik ong (ground pork, tomatoes).
To drink, the bar offers beer by the can and bottle, including imported Thai brands such as Chang and Singha. A wine list features selections by the glass or bottle that pair well with the fare, including hand-selected roses, sparkling, whites and reds. A cocktail menu will feature options such as a tamarind whiskey sour, while non-alcoholic beverages include Thai tea, Thai coffee, coconut water and lychee juice.
“We’re really excited for people to try this Thai food because we’re going really deep,” Prapaisilp says. “It’s great that St. Louis has been so welcoming to new Thai restaurants. We’re hoping to let folks take the next step by coming out to try really rustic Thai cooking.”
Chao Baan will be open daily for dinner from 5 to 10pm. Tentative lunch hours are Monday through Friday from 11am to 2:30pm and Saturday through Sunday from 11am to 3pm. Lunch service starts next week.
Editor's Note: This post has been updated to reflect a new opening date for Chao Baan.
Chao Baan, 4087 Chouteau Ave., The Grove, St. Louis, Missouri, chaobaanstl.com