Nicknamed “Pook,” owner Darapon Souri Vong acquired her cooking skills and restaurant business knowhow while working at her parents’ Thai restaurant in Gilford for 10 years. She then opened Jeera Little Thai Kitchen in New Haven, and after three years has decided to bring the spicy flavors of Thailand to Westport, finding a cozy spot on Post Road East next to Finalmente Trattoria. However, whereas the college town outpost is geared toward quick-cooking meals, the new restaurant will focus on more authentic, complex dishes, reflecting Darapon’s homeland of Northeast Thailand (Isan).
Maintaining less than half of the original menu, the Westport restaurant will have more options, more Isan-style food than the New Haven branch. “We’re offering more fish, and recipes that take a little longer to cook,” Darapon says. “I have a bigger kitchen so I can make more complicated dishes.” She can now also include ingredients such as lobster, which will be featured in pad pong ka ree—stir-fried twin lobster tails with onion, bell pepper, Chinese celery, egg, scallion, and India curry powder. Other chef specialties are nua yang, Thai-style marinated New York strip steak, grilled and served with an exotic spicy sauce and sticky rice, and pla nang—steamed whole stripped bass with onion, scallion, fresh ginger, and plum sauce.
The menu also includes interesting and vibrant salads. Yum makheua yao is a fresh combination of smoky grilled Asian eggplant, shrimp, minced chicken, cilantro, and red onion, tossed in a lime dressing. The tum suo is a Northeast Thai-style green papaya salad that is not for the faint of heart—the menu shows the spicy rating of three chili peppers and reads “who loves spicy, must try!”
You will of course find plenty of curry and noodle dishes that are part of the Thai culinary tradition. The simply decorated space will seat 20 to 30 people, and take-out and catering will also be available. The restaurant plans to open before Christmas.
Jeera Little Thai Kitchen
165 Post Road East