“Praram 9 Kaiyang”, a master of Thai North-Eastern food
Rarely does passersby of the Rama 9 district not be familiar with the name nor the taste of the legendary grilled chicken by the “Praram 9 Kaiyang” restaurant that is situated at the new Rama IX road. This is mainly due to the long history of their establishment as well as their ever-bustling atmosphere. Therefore, it is interesting that how can Praram 9 Kaiyang make grilled chicken, considered as one of a common dishes, outstanding and remain being a favourite dish for Thai Noth-Eastern food lovers for more than 18 years. Today, Mr. Sumet Tomahakul, the founder of the restaurant, who transformed his small chicken stall under a tree into this flourishing food empire, is here to tell you and other restaurant owners about his “road to legendary success”.
It might be hard for anyone, who visit this place, can imagine that Praram 9 Kaiyang, a grand restaurant that can easily fit hundreds of mouth-watering customers, was once merely a small, humble stall with only 2 grills that was set up under the shade of a large, looming situated at the corner of Rama IX 39 alley. Mr. Sumet told us so cheerfully that he had to go through countless obstacles with his determination and willingness to learn from his mistakes in order to achieve success.
Mr. Sumet never had any experiences in opening a restaurant before, but he is no rookie in terms of commerce and has dabbled in a variety of businesses, especially real estate. Unfortunately, when Tom Yum Koong crisis occurred in 1997, his real estate business took a big hit and was forced to close down. Nevertheless, Mr. Sumet didn’t let his failure discourage him, but he instead used his time to carefully think of a new way to sustain himself financially. His first thought was to turn to his hobby, which is to seek out good food to eat. This, combined with his love for cooking, inspired him to sell food, starting with his favorite menu: grilled chicken. He started by experimenting with recipes after recipes of his own, as well as getting some suggestions from various restaurants in the North-Eastern region of Thailand in order to improve his dish. His aim was to create a unique taste that appeals to the people of Bangkok, and finally he was able to succeed with his delicious heavily-spiced grilled chicken recipe.
His journey towards being the grilled chicken legend all started simply by selecting a place for his restaurant, which ended up being the aforementioned corner of Rama IX 39 alley. His first stall only had 1 table and 2 grills; there weren’t even an umbrella, shelter for eating, or even a sign for his business. This resulted in his customers having to buy them as a takeaway.
The road to the first 17 roasted chicken
With a smile, Mr. Sumet thought back to his first day opening the roasted chicken stall 18 years ago. Despite his stall was small, with only 1 table, and he was a newcomer in the area, which practically made him an unknown, he was able to sell 17 grilled chicken on the first day. This greatly delighted him and gave him a tremendous boost. One month went by, Mr. Sumet started to notice that the customers that enjoyed his grilled chicken would often come back, some inviting friends and family to get a taste. From the power of word of mouth, his sales skyrocketed from 17 on the first day to 20, 50, or even 70-80 on a good day.
Of course, it is undeniable that the location also played a huge role. As it was situated at the corner of the alley, it was easily visible to any cars passing by, and especially when there’s a long line of people, it created interest within potential customers. It is human nature to assume that restaurants packed with customers serves good food. With this, more and more customers are attracted to the restaurant, and people still continues to flock to this establishment till this day.
Nurture your success with customers’ feedback
When it comes to the name “Praram 9 Kaiyang”, Mr. Sumet said he got it from the customers themselves. As his first stall was never given a name, the growing number customers naturally started to call it based on its location for convenience. From then on, whenever people mention roasted chicken from the Rama IX area, everyone always associate it with Mr. Sumet’s roasted chicken restaurant. In addition to his family viewing this name as a sign of luck, Mr. Sumet finally used it as his restaurant’s official name: “Praram 9 Kaiyang”
“Customers” is one of the most significant factor for the success of Mr. Sumet’s food empire. This is especially true as, at first, he never thought of expanding the menu. However, when the customers suggested this to him, Mr. Sumet was inspired to develop new dishes to be eaten along with the roasted chicken. This ranged from sticky rice, Som Tum, and then later other North-Eastern food. Another suggestion he often got was to expand the restaurant in order to accommodate customers that would like to eat there instead of always having to rely on takeaways.
Put passion into every plate
According to Mr. Sumet, the secret to the success and growth of “Praram 9 Kaiyang” for the past 18 years stems from 5 major factors.
- Care in Hygiene – we must keep things clean at all times in all places, both in the front and the back of the restaurant. Despite being an open air restaurant located on the side of the road, Mr. Sumet’s restaurant doesn’t have a single fly.
- Care in punctuality – Even if the place is packed, we must not irritate our customers with a late dish. Every single menu is to be served within 5 minutes.
- Care in quality – choosing the freshest ingredients by himself is something Mr. Sumet never fails to do. Every single morning, Mr. Sumet will go to the market in order to pick out the freshest looking chicken for his menu. The trick is to treat it as if you’re the one eating them.
- Care in employees – Mr Sumet view that a well-treated, well-compensated employee is a loyal employee, and will serve the customers to the best of their abilities. Plus, the relationship between the employer and the employees is also essential as it will result in a better service.
- Care in pricing – delicious and affordable is one of the policies at “Praram 9 Kaiyang” as the right pricing can keep the customers coming back for more.
One stop restaurant for deliciousness
There are not so many restaurants that can claim that whatever you order it’s all delicious. This is what Mr. Sumet always takes care of because he wants to see all dishes in “Praram 9 Kaiyang” are distinguished in their own way and ready to be the restaurant’s signature dishes. When ask about the dish that everyone has to order, It could not be others but the well-known “grilled chicken” marinated with herbs and AJI-NO-MOTO® that makes them so aromatic. Moreover, there is “spicy soup with pork” which is so spicy that all pork in this soup have their cartilage bone which are chewy. The next special dish is “grilled pork neck”, made from no lean pork neck marinated to be soft with the special procedure and AJI-NO-MOTO®. At the end, we have got the special delicious grilled pork neck that is so soft and mushy. The last but not least menu is Som Tum Thai with candy peanuts. The Som Tum Thai has its umami taste created more identity by added with candy peanuts which is one of the OTOP products from Khon Kaen province. This menu is added more flavor with AJI-NO-MOTO® Plus. Therefore, it gives the different taste that you cannot find at the other restaurants.
“We have used AJI-NO-MOTO® and AJI-NO-MOTO® Plus since we opened this restaurant. I like and satisfy in the taste because I get accustomed to this taste since I was young. I have to admit that the taste has never changed in any time. It helps our food flavor-full.
Pass the knowledge on to the new generation
In Mr. Sumet’s opinion, he views the idea of being certain whether or not you’re passionate about cooking is the most crucial and necessary thing in restaurant business. There’re plenty of restaurants that had to close down due to a lack of passion and determination. This love for cooking does not stem from being great since the beginning, but rather stems from the willingness to learn and train. If you truly love cooking, and that you’re ready to face any obstacles thrown at you, you can succeed. Without these, you won’t last long as you’re forcing yourself to put heart and effort into it. When you discover that you love food, the next step is to ask yourself whether or not you love service because when it comes to opening a restaurant, a service mind is a must. If your answer is yes to both of these, you are on your way to succeeding in the restaurant business.
The secret to happiness
Doing what you love, like cooking and seeing happiness lit up in the eyes of those that tasted your food, is the true happiness that Mr. Sumet received from opening his famed “Praram 9 Kaiyang”. Even with the success and the sustainability of the business, Mr. Sumet is still able to enjoy going to the market every morning to purchase the best ingredients for his customers as well as opening the restaurant together with his staff. In Mr. Sumet’s eyes, in order to inspire morale and ensure that the customers will receive the best service and food from his restaurant, putting love into every single dish you serve is the key to success.