Thai food lovers unite: Barn Nork comes to Whistler


Beloved Thai restaurant leaving Mount Currie location this fall for Riverside Resort

When Jatuporn Nuttamarn and Chanidaporn Sriwanta first considered bringing their distinct style of northern Thai cuisine to Mount Currie, husband and wife figured they would only need to hire one or two employees to do the kind of business they expected. Boy, were they wrong.

“We never thought it would be this busy,” said Sriwanta, who also calls herself Janice. “We later found out that the people of Pemberton really love Thai food. Before the opening, we had a smooth opening, so we gave a bunch of invitations to people, and they were so excited. From there it just expressed to me how much they love Thai food and how excited they were to make it there. ”

Since opening its doors five years ago, Barn Nork has grown into one of Sea to Sky’s most beloved restaurants, gaining a fiercely loyal following, which made the decision to move to Whistler this fall even more so. hard.

“Janice expressed more than I have ever heard from any restaurateur I have worked with such gratitude to a community that welcomed them. It doesn’t go unnoticed, ”said Judith Thompson, who, in addition to being the restaurant’s manager and partner, also interprets for Sriwanta and Nuttamarn, who also calls himself Jay, in interviews, with Thai as a mother tongue. “So it’s bittersweet, because the community of Mount Currie, the community of Pemberton, have been great.

“We hope these relationships continue, but we will create new ones, and this is essential for the growth of any business and just like people. It’s hard to stand still and stay the same. You have to grow up or you die.

As it stands, there are plans to continue operating the Mount Currie restaurant until the end of October, ideally opening their new location in Whistler six days a week in late November or early December. Their new space, the former Riverside Café, is undergoing a complete renovation, with around two-thirds slated for the background, allowing the team to focus more on one aspect of the business. which developed considerably during the pandemic.

“Where dining in is always a great experience at Barn Nork in Mount Currie, we could see the change coming with a lot more take out. Of course, with COVID, we’ve gone pretty well on the go because of the style of the product, ”said Thompson. “So we saw the business model evolve and take out was essential because it allowed us to increase our capacity and serve more people without the seats and the extra cost, and not just the extra cost, but the extra cost. additional space of a large restaurant. ”

The lunch service in particular will focus on take-out with more take-out items, giving Sriwanta and her husband a chance to have fun with street food, a staple of Thai cuisine reminiscent of the teeming markets of their native Chiang Mai. . “The idea is that you could come to Barn Nork Riverside and experience more market food beyond curries and pad Thai that everyone loves,” Thompson said, adding that the dozen seats inside will be first come, first served. for the lunch. (There will also be about 15 places outside.)

For dinner, the team wants to offer more of an “exclusive dining experience” that will follow the family-style portions common to the Northern Thai style. “We take reservations and we want people to come and have the experience of eating food fresh out of the wok or the pan. But also for Jay and Janice to potentially create special and unique Thai dinners, ”says Thompson.

Considering the restaurant’s popularity combined with its limited capacity, there are bound to be wait times at the new Barn Nork location (something they hope to cut down via a smartphone ordering app), but that’s an integral part. of the type of food Sriwanta and Nuttamarn cook. Eventually working in Slovenian kitchens in downtown Vancouver, the couple honed their Thai cooking skills at the Sala Rim Naam at the five-star Mandarin Oriental hotel in Bangkok, and refuse to cut corners on virtually any element. of their food. Thai cuisine is meticulous cooking that requires a lot of preparation, and it is not uncommon for some Thai restaurants, especially in North America, to resort to some pre-made ingredients to save time. That’s not the case at Barn Nork, where chefs make their own sauces from scratch, roast and grind their own hot peppers instead of prepackaged chili flakes, and use real tamarind and palm sugar.

“I tried pushing Janice in some ways to maybe get things done faster, but she pushes back because the taste would change,” says Thompson. “I think it’s a rare process for some Thai restaurants because they focus more on speed. What Janice and Jay have taught me and their customers over the years is that if you wait for it, it will be more delicious.

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