PANWA Thai Restaurant has earned a certification never before seen on the Coast, the official Thai government seal of approval for their authentic native cuisine.
Originally from Bangkok, Samart (Marty) Ngaogate and Anong (Zip) Wongduean have owned and operated the restaurant on Maroochydore's Ocean Street for two years, and are delighted to be the first restaurant outside a capital city to boast of the certification.
The culinary duo said they were stunned when a table of diners approached them one night after their meals saying they were from the Thai embassy.
Marty, who works in the kitchen while Zip attends front of house, said he cooked the unusually quiet men three dishes; chilli basil pork belly, a tom yum seafood soup and green pawpaw salad.
"They didn't say anything until all the food was gone,” said Zip.
When the dishes were cleared, the men approached the pair to explain they had flown up from Sydney to certify their food, and looked inside the kitchen, inspected all their ingredients and confirmed even the rice was up to standard.
Zip said she was simply amazed to have been awarded the certificate, as it had always been her and Marty's dream to open a quality Thai restaurant.
"We wanted people to enjoy Thai food like they can in Thailand,” she said.
"We try to have everybody enjoy as much as they can, and eat what we eat over there.”
The pair said they moved to Australia 14 years ago, and have worked ever since to be able to open their own restaurant.
Marty worked in an RSL kitchen to gain professional cooking experience whilst putting himself through TAFE to earn his chef's qualification.
It took a few years to save up the money and gain their expertise, but in August 2014, Zip and Marty's dream was finally a reality.
Now they're both immensely proud to hang the coveted certification on their walls.
When asked for their recommendations, Zip said she liked Panwa's signature deep-fried whole fish while Marty said he preferred the som tum soft crab, another of his specialities.
For more information and a full menu, visit www.panwathai.com.au.
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