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Decor and menu changes former Typhoon! space

by: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Ody Ratanaphupha is the owner of the new Planet Thai restaurant at The Round at Beaverton Central.As momentum builds toward the opening date of his new restaurant, Kitisak “Ody” Ratanaphupha admits the myriad tasks, obligations and pressures that accompany such an undertaking are mounting.

“We’ve been excited,” he said. “Everything, as we get closer to the opening, is just overwhelming. When I have an appointment with someone, I ask them to call me an hour before the meeting, because sometimes I forget.”

Not to say Ratanaphupha, 45, doesn’t have the situation essentially under control.

If the understated confidence he exudes while discussing his newest Planet Thai restaurant at The Round at Beaverton Central — set to open Friday at 11 a.m. — is any indication, the Vancouver, Wash., restaurateur is more than ready to welcome the first waves of new customers. Based on the informal feedback he gets from visitors to The Round’s central plaza, the public is ready for Planet Thai.

“A lot of customers that pass by, they walk in and ask when I’ll be open,” he said of the past several weeks. “I have a good feeling about it. I know people are seeing the restaurant.”

Planet Thai, a 120-seat restaurant, and its full-service bar will be open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday from noon to 10 p.m.; and Sunday from 4 to 9 p.m. Ratanaphupha promises a twist on the Thai-cuisine options from Typhoon!, the restaurant operated by his friends Bo and Steve Kline for eight years in the space until it and its four sister restaurants closed in February 2012.

“The way we present the food will be different from Typhoon!” he said. “Typhoon! mostly used plates and bowls. We try to use things such as cast iron (skillets) to keep the food hot.”

Ratanaphupha demonstrates what he means by firing up two industrial-sized woks in the kitchen, under which a raging gas-fired flame keeps the concave kettles steaming hot.by: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Ody Ratanaphupha shows off a specialty wok grill that he installed for his new restaurant, Planet Thai, at The Round in Beaverton.

“Without this, the heat is just not there to make Asian food,” he said. “This is how Asian cooking is supposed to be.”

An 18-year veteran of the restaurant business, Ratanaphupha is an award-winning chef who took home two gold medals from the Shelton (Wash.) Seafood Cookoff in 2001 and led the American Culinary Federation team to a bronze medal the next year at a competition in Olympia. For his new venture, however, Ratanaphupha is leaving the cooking to his three chefs who arrived from Thailand last week, and his business partner, Ravadee Kitdee, will manage the kitchen.

“She brings the flavor to the restaurant,” he said. “She’s pretty good in the kitchen.”

This will be Ratanaphupha’s third restaurant venture, the first in Oregon. After getting started with a “hole-in-the-wall”-sized eatery in downtown Vancouver, he and his wife, Mayuree, created the original, 49-seat Planet Thai in Salmon Creek, Wash.

The couple is carrying over some of the atmospheric motifs from the Washington restaurants to the new space at The Round. Stained bamboo-topped dividers provide secluded dining areas featuring large booths surrounded by stacked flat-stone walls and large windows looking onto the central plaza and other areas of The Round complex. Near the open kitchen in the back, a gigantic slate slab table offers an area for large group or community dining experiences.

With the “soft opening” day looming, Ratanaphupha said he and his 20 or so employees look forward to becoming part of the business and cultural fabric of Beaverton and The Round, which the Beaverton City Council just chose as the new location for City Hall. He’s confident Planet Thai will nicely complement existing restaurants Mio Sushi and Mingo.by: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - The Planet Thai team, from left, Ravadee Kitdee, owner 'Ody' Ratanaphupha, Nualjira Treemeth, Utit Kitdee and Suchart Treemeth.

“From what I see, Beaverton is a fast-growing area,” he said. “Companies like Nike and Intel bring the lunch crowd here, and for night time (customer base) we have the condos upstairs. With Mio Sushi and Mingo here, to add one more restaurant in the area will be good. “People like variety.”

The location, he added, is just what he’s been looking for. “We just found this one. It’s perfect for us to be here.”

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