Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

Lifestyles

February 11, 2010

New Asian restaurant opens Saturday

EFFINGHAM — After opening eight Thai restaurants in various parts of Illinois over the past 29 years, Paul Jisook is ready to settle down.

“This is my final stop,” said Jisook, as he prepared to open their latest enterprise, Bangkok Thai Restaurant, on the site of the old El Rancherito restaurant, 1313 N. Keller Drive in Effingham.

The new restaurant opens at 11 a.m. Saturday. Hours will be 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.

Jisook, who grew up in Thailand, has opened restaurants in such disparate locations as Chicago, Champaign and Bloomington. But he’s happy to be in Effingham.

“I like small towns,” he said.

After leaving Thailand, Jisook settled in London for several years before opening a fast food carryout business in Chicago. He said his best known restaurant might be Nitaya Thai Restaurant in Champaign.

It didn’t take long for Jisook to lease the old El Rancherito building after the popular Mexican restaurant moved next door to the old Ponderosa building last summer. Jisook and his crew almost immediately began renovating the old building to provide a better Thai dining experience.

“We saw the “for sale” sign on this building and contacted the realtor almost right away,” Jisook said. “We made the deal in three days.”

“I like Effingham because it’s a busy place,” Jisook said. “There’s lots of traffic, but no Thai restaurants.”

Jisook said customers at his Champaign restaurant told him an opportunity might be available.

Thai food is known for its spiciness, especially compared to other Asian foods.

“The flavor is better and it’s healthier,” Jisook said. “We have a lot of curries in Thai food, but our curry is hotter than Indian curry.”

Specialities include papaya salad and pad thai, a thin rice noodle stir-fried with bean sprouts, egg, ground peanut, and a choice of either chicken, beef, tofu or shrimp.

Nearly every main dish is served with rice.

“It’s like eating with potatoes here,” Jisook said.

Bill Grimes can be reached at 217-347-7151 ext. 132 or bill.grimes@effinghamdailynews.com

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