Sang’s Thai Isaan Restaurant: Authentic, Fresh, Delicious Food Prepared With Love
Meet Sang Chanram, who has recently made a much anticipated return to the Macon restaurant scene with the January opening of Sang’s Thai Isaan Restaurant on the corner of Cherry and MLK downtown.
One of the first dates I ever went on with the lucky fella I’m now married to was at an unassuming little Thai place on Pio Nono Avenue in Macon way back in the year 2000 (why does that still look so weird and futuristic even though it’s 17 years later than that now?) – this was, I think, only our second time getting food together, and I ordered an ambitiously spicy curry dish. The meal was delicious, filled with plump shrimp and sweet pineapple we couldn’t stop eating despite the fact that the spices continued to build bite by bite inside our mouths to a painful degree. My adorable date, who I now know is not the biggest fan of intensely spicy food, had, by the end of the meal, started to look visibly flustered; I have a vivid memory of him reaching over to grab my hand, then placing it on top of his head, which was saturated with sweat as if someone had dumped a pan of water on him. “My bald spot gets way sweaty when I eat spicy food,” he said, which is probably one of those make-it-or-break-it dating moments that might’ve alienated a more squeamish person, but there’s not much I like more than weird unexpected intimacy and endearing vulnerability, so that curry-inspired sweaty head pat ended up charming the hell out of me, so much so that I’m writing about it here almost two decades later. And the woman who owned that restaurant and prepared that lovely, intense curry dish that helped nudge my relationship forward in its early days? Noneother than Sang Chanram, who has recently made a much anticipated return to the Macon restaurant scene with the January opening of Sang’s Thai Isaan Restaurant on the corner of Cherry and MLK downtown.
“So many of my customers are from my past restaurant,” Sang says. “It’s amazing to me how many people have come in and said ‘We’ve missed you,’ – and it’s been almost twenty years!” She’s right – her particular style of cooking, with its clean, balanced flavors, fresh ingredients, and captivating spices, is so delicious it inspires loyalty, and her gracious, sincere, sweet demeanor can’t help but make a lasting positive impression on her customers. “I was born to cook,” she says. “I love to see people eat my food. Love it. Cooking’s my true passion – even when I go home, I still love cooking. It relaxes me.” The dedication Sang has to her craft shows in everything she does – from the gorgeous presentation of each plate as it arrives at your table to the complex array of flavors and textures she’s skillfully blended together in each dish. Even the décor of the restaurant helps to set the mood for an excellent dining experience – the vibe is mellow and soothing, with subdued lighting and striking art.
The Isaan region is Thailand’s largest region, and its cooking is known for liberal use of sticky rice, spicy papaya and meat salads, delicately marinated meats that are then charbroiled to guarantee amazing flavor and texture, and a distinctive array of pungent, aromatic herbs. Several dishes on Sang’s menu are popular enough with her guests to be mentioned again and again- “My favorite is the beef salad – love the vibrant flavors and textures. Also a fan of the street noodles,” says Saralyn Collins, owner of Grow. And Ashley Doolin, account executive with The Creek 100.9, says “I would walk the streets for her street noodles! Her curry is my comfort food, and holy hell, her Thai beef salad is the best thing I’ve ever put in my mouth!” The Saturday-only special Cry Tiger Steak, marinated in Sang’s special sauce, also gets rave reviews from customers, but it will sell out, so if you want to give it a try, better show up early.
If you’re looking for an elegant location for a wedding reception or other large party, Sang’s new downtown location also offers a spacious banquet room that can be booked in advance – just call or come by to inquire. The waitstaff at Sang’s are friendly and courteous, happy to offer help or suggestions with the menu without being pushy. If you have dietary restrictions, be sure to talk to your waiter about them. Many dishes can be made vegetarian or vegan, and several are naturally gluten-free. All the dishes available at Sang’s are prepared with authentic, high-quality ingredients in an impeccably clean kitchen – “I’m so hands-on, I’m a perfectionist,” Sang laughs. “Every dish I make, it’s unique, exotic, different. I’m so proud to be back to owning a restaurant, and so proud to be a member of the downtown family, too.” Downtown is lucky to have Sang and her amazing array of delicious dishes. As photographer Kirk West says, “Just the right amount of spices, and complex flavors throughout the menu. Subtle. A great addition to the various menus popping up around downtown these days.” And if you’re there on a date, go ahead, order your curry extra spicy – might as well see what happens!
Sang’s Thai Isaan Restaurant
401 Cherry Street
Monday: 11am – 3 pm
Tuesday-Friday: 11 am – 3 pm; 4 pm – 9:30 pm
Saturday: 4 pm – 10 pm