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30,31 Lotus Asian

3/21/14

4:10 PM

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EATS AND TREATS

Capitola’s Blooming Lotus Thai Basil’s sister store, Lotus Asian Market, blossoms By Ryan Boysen hai basil and kaffir lime leaves. Fresh galangal root, Thai chilies and lemongrass. These are the ingredients that give Thai cuisine its rich complexity and aromatic blend of spicy, sweet, sour and salty. And that’s exactly what husband-andwife-duo Sarika and Vincent Vongsana were hoping to bring to the residents of Santa Cruz County when they opened Lotus Asian Market in Capitola two years ago. Sarika and Vincent moved from Thailand to San Diego

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eight years ago, then to Santa Cruz County three years ago to take over the operation of Thai Basil restaurant in the Capitola Village from Vincent’s mother. Once they had settled in, they noticed that it was hard to find a lot of the ingredients needed for authentic Asian cuisine without going over the hill to San Jose. “We were already ordering Thai ingredients from our suppliers, so we thought we’d try opening a market,” Sarika says, sitting behind the register at Lotus. “A lot of people in

Santa Cruz like cooking Asian food and now it’s a little easier for them.” Lotus started off stocking its shelves with mostly traditional Thai ingredients, like the staples mentioned above, and canned Thai-style curry paste. But as customers came in requesting ingredients used in the cuisine of other Asian countries, their selection increased accordingly. Now Lotus boasts a wide variety of Japanese ingredients, from red bean paste to frozen nattÿ, a dish made from fermented soybeans. Sarika

says sushi ingredients, like dried seaweed and tobiko, are also a favorite among many customers. Although Lotus struggled in the beginning, Sarika says things have started looking up in the past year or so. “It’s good, but it’s not like ‘boom!’” Sarika says with a laugh. “Since we never advertised, all of our customers just came from word of mouth, so it took some time.” Sarika and Vincent owned two Thai restaurants in San Diego before moving to Santa

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