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BLOOMINGTON — Variety truly is the spice of life at Na Na Thai, the Twin Cities' third Thai restaurant to open in the last year.

Owner Ongsri Sopon chose the restaurant's name — also her nickname — because Na Na means etcetera or variety. And the meaning gets reflected in a dinner menu spanning six pages. Lunch diners can choose from one of 10 specials.

"Someone told us the building (at 1500 E. Empire St., Bloomington) was available last October. At that time, there was no Thai restaurant in town. We wanted to be the first, but that is OK. It just took time," said Paul Sopon, Ongsri's husband.

The couple completely gutted the former Tien Tsin restaurant. Gone are the statue of a plump, gold Chinese man and flowing fountain spanning an entire wall. The new look features rich orange and yellow walls, huge windows shuttered by light, wooden blinds and mahogany chairs with accompanying tables covered with white tablecloths.

"It has been good so far. There are no complaints, but we are not done decorating," noted Paul, who plans to cover a large, open wall with authentic art shipped directly from Thailand. The restaurant, which opened right after Thanksgiving, plans a grand opening in January.

Na Na Thai marks the fifth restaurant owned by the Sopons. They operate another Thai restaurant and three hot dog stands in Chicago. Other family members own and operate four Thai restaurants in London.

Chef Rose Katekaew has more than 30 years of experience preparing authentic Thai food featuring red and green curry, coriander, chili and ginger.

"Thai food has become so famous because it tastes good, and it's good for your health," said Al Sopon, Paulís sister.

She pointed to Tom Yum as a possible cold remedy. The soup contains chicken or shrimp, baby corn and straw mushrooms in a broth of lime juice seasoned with lemon grass and chili powder. All food items can be spiced according to hot, medium or mild preference.

The restaurant's hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 4 to 9 p.m. Sunday. Reservations are being accepted for Christmas dining at (309) 664-5599.


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