Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Kalaya opens a Thai market near the restaurant in South Philadelphia

Kalaya Thai Market is an offshoot of the BYOB that was a semifinalist for a James Beard Foundation award this year.

Kalaya owner Chutatip "Nok" Suntaranon outside her market at 922 S. Ninth St.
Kalaya owner Chutatip "Nok" Suntaranon outside her market at 922 S. Ninth St.Read moreMICHAEL KLEIN / Staff

Riding the success of her Thai BYOB Kalaya, Chutatip “Nok” Suntaranon has opened a Thai market in the middle of the Italian Market, about two blocks south from the restaurant.

Kalaya Thai Market, at 922 S. Ninth St. (between Di Bruno’s bottle shop and Claudio’s), sells Thai groceries and snacks (sweet basil Lay’s chips!), as well as prepared dishes from Kalaya and foods made by guest chefs, who work out of the kitchen in a pop-up arrangement. Chefs Gregory Headen and Camille Cogswell are selling there now.

The retail space is tiny — accommodating two customers at once, as dictated by social distancing — but the kitchen tucked behind the door is spacious and has a large walk-in refrigerator.

That’s what sold Suntaranon in the first place last winter when she was running out of prep space at the restaurant. She set up shop in the kitchen and then decided to add retail. “I saw that there was foot traffic, so I thought it would work as a market," she said.

Customers can pick up all sorts of fresh and canned ingredients used in Thai cooking, such as Suntaranon’s ground chili paste, canned coconut milk, fried red onion, tai pla sauce, and tamarind paste.

Sausages and marinated meats such as moo dad deaw, moo sawan, and sai oua are sold from a refrigerator case. Want to replicate Kalaya’s signature blue dumplings? Pick up a bag of dried butterfly pea flower. Why settle for ginger when you can get fresh galangal? Suntaranon is quick to offer advice.

She said she decided to open her kitchen to the outside chefs as a way to give them exposure. "I want to give them a way to make more approachable, more affordable food for the community,” she said. Specials are advertised on Instagram.

Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.