Charlottesville Breaking News
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 specialities.
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 Siam.
"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 vinyl&...
2011 was yet another busy year for John Grisham. Not only did the master of the legal thrill produce The Litigators, but he also managed to release his second Theodore Boone young adult novel: The Abduction.
And now he wants to see what you can do. He has again accepted the challenge of wielding a gavel in the literary world by judging the Hook's annual short story contest.
Prizes and such
The idea that one of the world's top-selling authors wants to read your work should be incentive enough to enter, but wait, there's also the $1,000 in cash prizes.
The grand-prize winner receives $550, second place $275, and third place $175.
Next comes the fame. The grand prize-winning story will be published in the Hook in late March when lots of literary types are in town for the Virginia F...
Right across from the "Skybar" on 5th Street NE, you may or may not have noticed that a placed called Song Song's Zhou & Bing opened on the Downtown Mall with little fanfare around the first of the year. The owner, Song Song (a name her grandmother bestowed), says she has done no advertising. Her husband is a professor at UVA, and they have been here for about two years. When Dish visited, she was all alone behind the counter.
After getting her graduate degree in biochemical engineering, Song Song left China to do cancer research at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio. Later, she earned her MBA at Case and landed a high-powered job in Connecticut working for a medical research corporation.
But all those years of study and research led to a severe case of carpal tunnel syndrome, crippling her hands and fingers.
If there were a silver lining, she says, it was her interest in healthy Chinese cooking, which she learned to help her own healing and now offers at the small restaurant to help yours.
Song says her carpal tunnel was so severe she couldn't even hold chop sticks, and that it was from working too hard.
"I had to do exercises every day," she says while stirring a pot. "It was not easy to get here."
The menu is simple, featuring zhou, a kind of po...