AUBURN — After their daughter closed Jasmine Cafe last summer, burned out after nine years of running the restaurant, Som and Samer Saengwong, sometimes-chefs at Jasmine, decided they’d like to forge out on their own.

Their daughter, Supannee, moved to New Jersey to start a new career and last month, they opened Aan-Chun Asian Fusion Restaurant at 730 Center St., in Jasmine’s former space.

“They say don’t put two tigers in one kitchen,” Supannee joked on Monday of she and her mother. “She’s added traditional dishes that she had wanted to do.”

Supannee, who was visiting this week for the first time since the holidays, said her family first moved from Thailand to Boston in 1996. Her mother, Som, had a culinary degree at the time and she and Samer picked up different skills working in Boston area kitchens.

A Caterpillar Maki sushi roll from Aan-Chun in Auburn. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

The family moved to Lewiston around 2005, after plans for opening a restaurant in Connecticut fell through, and shortly after opened Thai Jar Earn restaurant at Sabattus and College streets in Lewiston.

In 2010, Supannee opened Jasmine Cafe and the family joined her there. Last August, she made the difficult decision to close.

“Since I graduated from college, I hadn’t really explored a career beside this,” she said. “I jumped into it and I was running it for nine years. Having a restaurant is a huge responsibility and overload, I was burned out. I just wanted a change. It’s been great. I couldn’t believe I made that decision either.”

The restaurant, Aan-Chun, is named for a Thai flower that resembles a pea pod, she said.

It’s kept some popular Jasmine Cafe dishes, like curry and sushi, and added a Thailand street food feel with dishes like pink noodles topped with an egg, bean sprouts and tofu and Aan-Chun Ka Pow with ground chicken, pork or beef with string bean basil sauce, rice and eggs.

The presentation will be different, as will the taste in some cases.

“Her and him bring the best of (themselves,) on their own,” said Supannee.

Translating for her mother she said, “She’s excited.”

Supannee, who now works for a sushi company out of New Jersey, will continue to operate the Jasmine Mobile food truck. Her parents plan to start their own food truck with bubble tea and bubble waffles later this year.

Aan-Chun Asian Fusion Restaurant is open Sunday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Nongnuch Makarom, a longtime family friend with them since the Thai Jar Earn days, is the new restaurant’s general manager. She had worked as the front of the house manager for Jasmine Cafe.

Makarom said she’s seen a lot of familiar faces the last month.

They’re telling her things like, “‘I’ve missed you guys, I’m so glad you’ve opened up, we can’t find anything like this in town,'” she said. “Most of them are regular customers who are coming back.”


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