Erawan brings Thai charm to Oak Harbor
July 3, 2008 · Updated 2:46 PM
Denny and Pen Sritong hope to spice things up in downtown Oak Harbor. The Sritongs (pronounced SEE-tongs), are the owners of Erawan Thai Cuisine & Sushi, which opened its doors to customers Monday.
Located at 885 SE Pioneer Way, Erawan has already been labeled by owners as Whidbeys Authentic Thai Cuisine and Fresh Sushi Bar. Its a label they hope people take to heart, truly feel comfortable when they visit, and help make Erawan one of Whidbeys best restaurants.
Erawan, named for the three-headed elephant in the Buddhist religion believed to be able to fly, swim and travel great distances, is the third restaurant opened by the Sritongs. In 1999 the couple opened the Thai House Restaurant, located at 616 South First Street in Mount Vernon, and since opening has received honors such as 2002 Small Business of the Year, 2001 Best Thai Restaurant, 2001 Best Chef - Pen Sritong, and Top 10 Restaurant in the Region.
Food is a labor of love for the Sritongs. Both Denny and Pen came to America from Thailand. Denny worked his way through college by working in the San Francisco hotel and restaurant industry. He earned a degree in Business and Marketing and wanted to own his own resturant. Pen worked with her fathers catering business in Thailand before coming to the states where she began work in Thai restaurants.
It took a chance meeting for their two dreams to unite. On a ski trip to Vail, Colo., Denny wanted to thank the chef for his meal. After several repeat visits to the restaurant, he and Pen began dating. This shared dream led the couple to search for a restaurant of their own, which became the Thai House in Mount Vernon. Since then the dream has blossomed.
The Sritongs followed their success by opening Jasmin Noodles & Thai Cuisine in Stanwood.
Like their other restaurants, the owners say Erawan will emphasize the quality of food, service and atmosphere.
The freshest and most superior ingredients will be used, and recipes will be carefully selected to ensure extraordinary flavor, Pen said.
Denny and Pen have created their own recipes from those that have been passed on from generation to generation.
Why Thai and sushi? Denny Sritong is already getting used to the question, but is quick with an answer.
Oriental food is popular in America because its very healthy, so we wanted to expand on our Thai and introduce people in Oak Harbor to others like Japanese, said Sritong.
While dominated by Thai, Erawans menu also has the Japanese influence of sushi and other items, as well as touches of Chinese cuisine. If on a budget, diners will find many items on the menu in the $6 to $9 range. People wanting to splurge can select one of the Chefs Creation items (only at dinner) from $13.95 to $17.95. And yes, theres the separate sushi menu with sashimi (sliced raw fish) and rolls a la carte or in combinations from $3.95 to $17.95.
From its conception, Erawan has been Pens baby, all the way from kitchen ingredients to design elements. She overseas all of the kitchen creations at Erawan, and makes all of the sauces. Once the newly formed staff is trained to her approval she will float among the three acting as head chef.
In her occasional absence, she will leave Erawan in the hands of three chefs. Chef Oranich Dang Thavornsin has been in the U.S. restaurant business for 10 years and previously worked in Thailand cooking for 10 years. Chef Withayanum Gate Boonyaharn has been in the restaurant business for 15 years. Sushi chef Patranit Pat Jitsopas will add a raw flare to the kitchen.
Both Denny and Pen are quite demanding of the service they want to provide in Oak Harbor. Denny says in Erawans first week service isnt as quick as he wants it to be. He hopes customers will be patient as they fine tune the new restaurants system, and train new employees.
Walking into Erawan, dont be surprised if it feels like walking into a Thai themed dream. After all, its Pens dream. Erawan is designed following the rules of Feng Shui. And visitors should avoid stealing from the large carved elephants offering bowl of sugar cane. Artwork from Thailand and bright, cheerful colors help make Erawan a real Thai experience.
Denny is just happy to finally be open.
Its taken about six months for us to open once we picked our location. Our coming soon sign faded and made it through winter and then spring, Denny said. But for Oak Harbors Thai food lovers, its been worth the wait.
Erawan Thai Cuisine & Sushi
Whidbeys Authentic Thai Cuisine and Fresh Sushi Bar
Location: 885 SE Pioneer Way
Hours: Sunday 12-8, Monday through Thursday 11-9, Friday and Saturday 11-10
Available for dine-in or take-out.
Dinner and Lunch menues, separate sushi menu and a wine list.
You can reach Whidbey News-Times contributing writer Cynthia Woolbright at email@example.com or call 675-6611.