I walked into the newly opened Great American Rib Restaurant on Sukhumvit Soi 36 in downtown Bangkok, and Chanisorn Ounayakovit, the co-owner warmly welcomed me.
There is nothing Danish about the restaurant except that Chanisorn grew up in Denmark and spent 10 years there from 2 to 12 years old. Although it has been about two decades since he left Denmark, he still has vivid memories about the place and life there.
At the time, his father was Regional Manager at Thai Airways International Ltd. and he was stationed in Copenhagen where he took his family with him.
From his memories, Chanisorn has a very pleasant childhood and he accounted many things in Denmark that made him what he is now.
“I’ve forgotten most of my Danish because I don’t have people to practice with,” says Chanisorn.
“I don’t really feel Danish because I was always in the international school but I had a lot of Danish friends in the neighborhood. It is a closed kind of community, where children are allowed to go out and play outside their homes and sometimes I would join my friends’ family for dinner and vice versa,” he adds.
Through his experience, Chanisorn believes that Denmark is the best place to bring up children.
“It is a safe place. There are a lot of museums and explorations for the kids,” says Chanisorn.
“In Denmark, it is most likely that children can do outdoor activities safely unlike other countries. Children can go into the forests and explore the environment without danger,” he adds.
Although he did not have the opportunity to experience life in high school and university in the country as he and his family moved back to Bangkok when he was twelve, Chanisorn believes that education system in Denmark, particularly the high school and university levels are effective.
“I guess Denmark has done a lot of improvement on its education system, since back then it is hard to find Danes who are fluent in English but now I am rather surprised to find that the Danes speak the language like their mother tongue and many times I got them wrong for Americans,” says Chanisorn.
Chanisorn was raised in Western ways. As a young child, he earned some pocket money by sending newspaper with his friends and he considered the activity as an enjoyable experience and not a hard life.
“It was a very kid life, I just remember all the fun time. Here, it’s different because I was in high school. If I had a kid, I would like them to grow up and experience the way I grew up,” says Chanisorn.
“I went to university in the US and it wasn’t like Denmark. The country is a big place full of mix and not a very secure place to grow up,” he remarked.
Chanisorn went on to explain about the good stuff in Denmark and the adventures he had with his friends in the safe and serene country before wrapping up with start of the restaurant.
In 1997, he started a business with his American partner Wes Carroll, representing a company in Malaysia selling raised floor, an expensive technology aimed at big corporate. The project went well but there is a need to have extra income to level out the trough so he and Wes came up with the idea of having a restaurant, Great American Rib, located at Sukhumvit Soi 36.
Great American Rib, which started operation in early July, targets at families and middle class people. It serves a large portion of food at very reasonable price. Chanisorn believes that this is the niche market because the restaurant is the only one in Bangkok with authentic smoked ribs and Buffalo wings with original chicken sauce, where they import the sauce from the States and use hickory wood to smoke the ribs. Whereas other restaurants may have smoked barbeque, Great American Rib serves hot smoked meat and even the bones have the smoke flavor. The restaurant offers authentic American cook cuisine.
The restaurant is built with railroad ties from the Death Railroad in 1943-1944, so the place is quite a touch of history. It has a small section in the back where Chanisorn plans to have it as kids’ yard with wooden animals and other toys so that children can enjoy themselves with parents or have birthday parties as the restaurant is closed to many preschools. The animals Chanisorn plans to install are designed by a German, who completed designing school in Denmark and currently manufacturing them here and export them to Denmark. The toy animals received Export Award from Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra as well.
Great American Rib also has a slight touch of Danish. Apart from some of Chanisorn’s Danish friends who paid visit to the restaurant, the place serves some good Aalborg Akvavit, a beverage drank by the Danes. He believes that the Scandinavians will also enjoy the cuisine as they spend most of the summer barbequing and camping.
Chanisorn reminisces the good old days by visiting The Stable Lodge restaurant, a place where authentic Danish food and beverage are served. The restaurant is well known to the Danes and is packed with them.