of the MONTH - November 2007
Restaurant: Food Fit for the King of Lions
By Annabelle Numaguchi
Wat , second from left,
and Jojo, third from left, and some of their
When Jojo and Wat Bamrungmuang
decided to open a Thai restaurant in Moab, they chose the
name Singha, meaning the King of Lions, a powerful talisman
for good fortune. Jojo and Wat opened Singha on August 29,
and Moab has responded to their brand of fresh, authentic
Thai cuisine is unique. While it borrows from both Chinese
and Indian cuisine, it is distinctly different from either
one. As a crossroads of East to West sea routes, Thai food
is also infused with flavors from Persia and Arabia. Balance
is important, as well as incorporating all 5 flavors: sweet,
sour, salty, bitter, and spicy. Noodles and rice are the
basis for most dishes. And speaking of spicy, Thai dishes
are often perceived as uniformly hot, but this is in error.
Singha offers dishes ranging from not at all hot, to burn
off all your taste buds hot. Your choice, just tell your
Freshness is the hallmark of good Thai cooking. Chef Wat
adapts recipes to use vegetables in season and all dishes
are individually prepared, nothing sits waiting on a steam
table. All sauces are made in-house, and Wat continually
creates new dishes. Traditional Thai ingredients come from
Salt Lake City, or from buying trips to Chinatown in Los
Angeles. Must-have ingredients include basil, lemongrass,
lime leaves, fish sauce, fresh garlic, lemon juice, and Thai
chile peppers. Freshness is so important that Wat undercooks
carry-out orders so that the food finishes cooking on the
way home, arriving crisp and tasty, rather than soggy.
If tea is your drink, Singha is the place for tea. They offer
24 different teas ranging from Organic Premium Green Tea
to Red Tea Rooibos to Jamaican Butter Rum Tea.
Jojo, Wat, and Wat’s 6-year-old daughter, Joopy,
came to Moab, they already had extensive experience in
the restaurant business. Jojo trained at the Marriott Hotels
in management. Wat began his training as a chef from the
age of 17 at a restaurant in Palm Springs. Jojo was born
in Bangkok and came to the USA in 1994. Wat comes from
Yasothon, a town in northeast Thailand, and came to this
country in 1995. Just prior to moving to Moab, they ran
successful Thai restaurants in Colorado. When they decided
to move on, they chose Moab because there was no Thai restaurant,
and they liked the area. Jojo says that people have been
so welcoming, “We call Moab home already.”
One of the foundations to Singha’s success is teamwork.
Jojo manages and Wat cooks, but in a push, they both do anything
that needs doing in a busy kitchen: slicing and dicing, dish
washing--anything to assist their staff of 5 to keep things
running smoothly. However, Wat is the only cook and is so
particular about it that Jojo says he will let her cook “only
under close supervision.” Wat laughs. They routinely
put in 14-hour days.
This kind of teamwork pays off in return customers, most
of whom are locals. With authentic Thai artwork infusing
the décor, Jojo and Wat have created a comfortable,
visually interesting, reasonably priced place to eat and
linger. The only trouble is, they are so busy that most people
see the line forming and don’t linger.
Such is the price of success.
The King of Lions
is smiling on Singha.
can coconut milk – (14-ounce)
1/2 tablespoons red curry paste
1/3 cup basil leaves -- coarsely chopped
1 pound chicken breast halves -- cut in 1”
1/2 medium red or green bell pepper -- julienned
1 medium carrot -- shredded
1 medium zucchini -- shredded
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons fish sauce (can substitute
salt to taste)
1 cup or less chicken stock
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
HEAT the oil in
a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
ADD the curry paste and cook, stirring, for a minute.
ADD the coconut milk, stock, fish sauce, salt, then
bring to the boil. ADD the chicken, red pepper, carrot
and zucchini, cover with a lid, then reduce the heat
to medium and simmer for 12 minutes. Add basil leaves
and serve over rice or steamed noodles.