White Center restaurants: Thai Thai to reopen as Ped Nin

Story and photos by Deanie Schwarz
Reporting for White Center Now

The former Thai Thai restaurant at 11205 16th SW in White Center will be reopening its doors under the new name of “Ped Nin Restaurant,” as requested by the late owner Sawang “Sam” Sudthaya, who died last month after a year-and-half battle with cancer.

Sam’s widow,Orawan and daughter Samantha will continue to run the beloved Thai restaurant with the continued help of Orawan’s sister Nujaree in the kitchen and Choothai Chaiboonruang, who spoke with WCN on behalf of the family (Nujaree and Choothai are in our photo at right).

For nearly 30 years at this location, Sam hosted patrons with open arms, as Orawan and Nujaree prepared the dishes that brought back repeat customers for not just years, but decades. It was the quality of the home-cooked meals and the graciousness of the family that brought many diners into the lavender-colored cement building, located just before what is now the northern boundary of Burien.

This bittersweet re-opening has been anticipated by many of their loyal and regular customers who for the past year and a half have wondered how Sam’s battle with cancer was coming along. Sam and his wife had returned to Bangkok for surgery and then had come back to White Center optimistic about his recovery and hoping to reopen the Thai Thai. But soon after their return and before they had a chance to reopen, the cancer surfaced quickly again, with no medical solutions. Sam chose to be at home with his family and died there on June 24. He had asked them to continue his life’s work but under the new name “Ped Nin,” which translated to English is “Black Diamond.”

The family is busy doing maintenance on the equipment and building and cleaning the space that sat empty for so long. They hope, depending upon public health inspection schedules, to be open by the end of July. They also are planning to have a website in the future as they begin a new era of the restaurant they are each devoted to. They thank all of their friends who are also their customers for their support as they return to work to fulfill Sam’s request at the Ped Nin Restaurant, (206) 246-2246. WCN will let you know when the opening date is finalized.

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11 Responses to “White Center restaurants: Thai Thai to reopen as Ped Nin”

  1. I have never been to this restaurant before, but after reading this story I will be sure to visit.

    Unfortunately, it is currently very difficult for people who own their own business to get health care insurance in the United States. I can imagine that this is the reason why they had to go back to Thailand to get the surgery. My heart goes out to them and to other entrepreneurs.

  2. Thanks for letting us know — Sam was always so patient with me and my friends as we sat and ate and gabbed for hours, and we wondered how he was doing. Before he closed, he seemed to be so confident of his chances. We’ll be back to the restaurant when it opens.

  3. Ed, you speak the truth – as small business owners, we pay a giant sum just for “catastrophic” health-care coverage for our family, no preventive care coverage at all. I am thankful my husband and I and our teenage son are exceptionally healthy but for any one of us, that could change in an instant. Meantime, I have to say kudos to contributor Deanie for tracking this down – both through WCN and through West Seattle Blog, we have been asked for months if we knew anything about Thai Thai’s status, and I’m glad to work with someone who was able to finally get the story!

  4. sharon, dan, dennis, connie Says:

    we have missed him terribly and for months we watched for signs of reopening, to no avail. we were “regulars” for years and he always knew what our order was, and he would visit with us, telling tales about trips home, and good exercises, etc. we were very fond of him and heartsick to hear of his illness and then his death.
    we will eagerly await the rebirth of Thai Thai as Ped Nin.
    and we’ll be back.

  5. yes, definite fans of thai thai. when it didn’t re-open, we assumed the worst, and that it would therefore never re-open. sorry to hear about sam’s passing, but glad the restaurant will be re-opening. looking forward to some green curry soon!

  6. Orasa Samantha Sudthaya Says:

    Hello everyone, this is Sam’s daughter Orasa also known as Samantha. Due to the landlord we will not be opening up at this location after being there for over 25 years. We are looking for a new location and will keep you posted please feel free to email us at pedninthai@gmail.com and we will let you know all the updates. My family and I would like to thank all of you for the support and prayers with my dad. He loved all his customers as you may remember he knew each one of your orders without you having to say a word. We hope to see you all soon.

  7. Samantha – Sorry to hear that the Landlord is an issue with the reopening! Please keep the White Center Now group and West Seattle Blog updated so that we know where you re-open! Thanks, katie

  8. Thanks so much for the update. I have been one of those customers who has called periodically over the past year and a half hoping for some good news about Sam and the restaurant.

    As has been mentioned, returning will certainly be bittersweet. Sam was a wonderful person and we will all miss him.

    But we will again be regular customers, I’m sure. Of all the Thai restaurants in the area, you just can’t beat this one!

    RIP Sam.


  9. Kiri Igloi Says:

    Love and condolences to all your family,Orasa. I’m so sorry your dad has gone. None of you will ever be forgotten. We hold you in our hearts and are very grateful to get news from you. [We met 'Samantha' when she was only 5 or 6 years old, like our own daughter Amy.] Thank you for coming back and giving us a chance to reconnect with you..soon, I hope. We will watch for updates. Sending lots of hugs and love, Kiri and Karl

  10. Our neighborhood has been eagerly awaiting good news with regard to the family and Thai Thai.
    Love to the family of Sam. You all are special. We enjoyed talking with Sam when we planned our trip to Thailand and then when we returned.
    The best to you as you find your new spot. Pleased don’t hesitate to reach out to this community for help with that as you work through the challenges. You are a special part of this community and we have missed you all.
    PS. I once impressed my Chicago-based vp with a dinner at TT. He proclaimed it the best Thai he had ever had and insisted on returning whenever he was in Seattle

  11. [...] cancer two years ago and Thai Thai, after being a local favorite for almost 30 years, was closed. There was talk that his wife and sister-in-law were going to partner with a friend to reopen the restaurant, but [...]