Wearside’s first Thai restaurant celebrates 25 years in business

Star of Siam 25th anniversary.
Owner Charlee Limratana with mother and former owner Kathryn Limratana
Star of Siam 25th anniversary. Owner Charlee Limratana with mother and former owner Kathryn Limratana
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The region’s longest-running Thai restaurant is celebrating 25 years of perfecting its pad Thai.

Star of Siam opened its doors as part of The Highfield Hotel in East Rainton a quarter of a century ago and is still going strong.

Star of Siam 25th anniversary.

Star of Siam 25th anniversary.

It was opened by Kathryn Limratana and her husband Manit, who brought a flavour of his home land of Thailand to the North East, and has been passed down to their son Charlee.

Kathryn said: “At the time there were only two other Thai restaurants in the whole of the North East and they were in Newcastle. They have since closed, so we are the only one still going.

“Though there are more Thai restaurants now and it’s a country people often go to on holiday, back then a lot of people had never even tried Thai food, it was something very new. But we still have customers who came on our opening night who still dine with us now.

“There’s not many restaurants that have been open this long, it’s a fickle industry and many open for a couple of years, and then close. But our customers have become like a second family, you end up seeing their children grow up.”

Star of Siam 25th anniversary.

Star of Siam 25th anniversary.

As well as the restaurant, the family run the hotel it’s housed within.

Speaking about what appealed about the site, all those years ago, Kathryn said: “At the time we had also opened a restaurant in the Metro Centre which itself was newly-opened.

“Manit saw this site which at the time was just a little white house B&B, but it had planning permission for a hotel and he decided it would be a great opportunity to run a hotel, bar and restaurant.

“There’s been so many changes since then. I remember the open cast mine being opposite which is all gone. The trees that were planted in its place are now huge.”

Star of Siam 25th anniversary.
Owner Charlee Limratana with mother and former owner Kathryn Limratana

Star of Siam 25th anniversary. Owner Charlee Limratana with mother and former owner Kathryn Limratana

Many of the 25 staff who work at the hotel and restaurant are from Thailand and have been at the venue for more than a decade.

Charlee says consistency is key to their longevity in the hospitality industry.

“We’ve always stuck with good traditional Thai food with a focus on good ingredients,” he said. “There’s a lot of fusion places, but we don’t do anything too fancy. It’s traditional food which dad would have eaten growing up at home in Thailand.

“We’ve stayed true to our roots and have always stuck with what we’ve known.”

How the Highfield Hotel looked as a B&B

How the Highfield Hotel looked as a B&B

•The Star of Siam will be celebrating its birthday with a buffet night on March 24. Tickets are priced £15 from Tel. 512 0905.

The Star of Siam when it first opened

The Star of Siam when it first opened

Star of Siam 25th anniversary.

Star of Siam 25th anniversary.

Star of Siam 25th anniversary.

Star of Siam 25th anniversary.