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EATS AND TREATS

Cruz. Partly because of the recession and partly because Vincent wanted his mother, who had run Thai Basil with only one employee since 1995, to be able to retire, the couple sold one of their San Diego restaurants and took over Thai Basil. Vincent had always worked as a manager in San Diego. The plan was to have his brother, a chef, take over for their mother in Thai Basil’s kitchen. When that fell through, Vincent had no choice but to teach himself to cook— and fast. Then and now the couple has run Thai Basil and Lotus almost entirely by themselves, with a little help from Vincent’s mother and their oldest son.

“It was very hard right after we moved here,” Sarika says. “The economy, dealing with family—everything. We had to work hard because it was just us.” Sarika says an unexpected benefit of opening Lotus is the cross-pollination that has occurred between the market and the restaurant. She says now that both businesses are more secure financially, they are looking into expanding in the near future. But, for both Sarika and Vincent, the basic premise of Lotus remains the same. “I just love it when people come in and I can help them cook,” Sarika says. “Sometimes they don’t know which ingredients

they need for a dish, so I walk them through it. That’s the best part.” 1200 41st Ave., Capitola, 477-1987, capitolathai.vpweb.com/Lotus-AsianMarket.html.

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Other local Asian markets worth a visit:

Oriental Store & Food To Go 205 E. Lake Ave., Watsonville, 722-4784.

Yamashita Market 114 Union St., Watsonville, 724-3219.

Sushi Market Sprouts 300 7th Ave., Santa Cruz, 465-1177, sushimarketsprouts.com.

Healthiest Restaurant in Santa Cruz — Save Our Shores Business of the Year for 2011

11am–11pm | 7 Days | 426-5664 | charliehongkong.com | 1141 Soquel Ave @ Seabright gtweekly.com l food & wine l 31

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