BLUE HILL — The summer is hot and steamy in Bangkok and, when I stayed with friends there in 1961, elephants still jousted with honking taxis for space on downtown streets, people were friendly and open and the food sold in roadside stalls or wandering vendors was spectacular.
This summer has been hot and steamy in Blue Hill and, while there are no elephants in the streets, Vee Napapornpipat and Chalee Chaikaew offer diners a chance to experience both Thai hospitality and terrific Thai cooking at their recently opened Siam Sky restaurant, located in a quiet spot on the banks of the Mill Stream just a block off Main Street.
Vee runs the front of the house in what was, long ago, the town’s favorite pizza parlor and more recently an alternative school, while Chalee, originally from Bangkok, does the cooking. A chef for some 15 years, his family owned restaurants and he learned his culinary skills from his mother. He has been cooking in the United States for almost nine years.
Vee, also originally from Thailand, grew up in the business, working in two Thai restaurants, one in Connecticut and the other outside Boston, each owned by one of her uncles. The couple met when Chalee cooked in the Milford, Conn., establishment.
Their arrival in Blue Hill followed an unlikely path. Vee said the owner of the Siam Sky property is a fan of a Thai restaurant in Bangor owned by a friend of theirs and asked for a recommendation for someone to start a Thai restaurant in Blue Hill. The friend recommended Vee and Chalee.
After rejecting a chance to open in the Main Street space now home to Thurston Co., they chose to take over and equip the completely empty former school at 8 Mill St. The result, which included a complete renovation and addition of a shady, outside deck, was both time-consuming and expensive.
“We had to buy everything, every table, every chair,” Vee said last week chatting at one of the restaurant’s comfortable high-top tables that overlook the Mill Stream.
Siam Sky has a large menu that offers a wide choice of Thai dishes including soups, savory curries and noodle dishes, salads and more.
On a recent visit during the break between lunch and dinner service, Chalee whipped up a classic Pad Thai with tofu to sample while talking about his background and cooking. It was delicious.
Chalee said that cooking for the restaurant was different than home cooking. Some ingredients he would use in Thailand are unavailable in the United States.
That difficulty notwithstanding, larb, the spicy chicken and ground rice-based salad from northeastern Thailand, a yellow curry cooked in coconut milk with pineapple and vegetables, and several duck preparations are all excellent. The steamed fresh rolls — a rice paper wrapper surrounding shrimp, chicken or tofu with rice noodles and vegetables and topped with peanut sauce — are hard to beat.
Lunch specials, including a choice of two appetizers, ginger soup and an entrée, are served Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and, at $12.50, are a real bargain.
Siam Sky, located at 8 Mill St., is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for lunch and from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. for dinner. Saturday hours are from noon to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. The restaurant serves wine and beer and recently added the Thai-brewed Singha lager to its beer list.
For information and reservations, call 374-7157.