Pooh and Kitty look out on Market Street from the front porch of Monsoon Siam.
How did two Thai art students wind up taking over
Monsoon, Charlottesville's oldest Asian fusion
restaurant? Well, to hear 31-year-old "Kitty" Ashi tell the story,
it began in Bangkok.
Kitty hails from a restaurant-running family, but it was in art
school in Bangkok that she became friends with the now 29-year-old
restaurant co-owner, "Pooh" Dutdao.
Starting as a dishwasher, Kitty arrived first in America and
began working her way up the ranks at a corporate restaurant, Tara
Thai. Last summer, while looking for an opportunity, she spotted an
online ad saying that Monsoon, started over 20 years ago, was for
sale. By this point, Pooh had moved to Central Virginia and
Tara Thai as well.
"It's kind of like destiny," says Kitty.
Building owner Lu-Mei Chang had found a duo willing to carry on
some traditions– even while revamping the menu toward Thai
Today, lunch specials are $7.99, and dinner starts at just a
penny more. The restaurant at 113 Market Street, which they bought
from Chang last June, is now called Monsoon
"We kept the Monsoon name," says 31-year-old Kitty, "because we
wanted to give her respect."
True to their art school roots, the two have adorned the walls
with some of their original artworks, including collages of stained
wood, and they've installed a record player– yes, playing