Newly opened Thai restaurant brings owners back to Vienna roots

No matter how many times the name and owners change, the ground-floor restaurant in the office building at 226 Maple Avenue West seems destined to serve Thai cuisine.

Following in the steps of Tara Thai and the recently departed Tom Yum Thai, the newly opened Burapa THAI & Bar comes from a face familiar to local diners: co-owner Bo Boonyaket was the owner and chef at I-Thai’s Side Street & Sushi Bar in Tysons until it shuttered last year.

“Ever since that one was closed during the pandemic, I always had a mindset of ‘I have to open up another one’ anyway, because that’s what I love,” Boonyaket told FFXnow. “I have passion for the food, and I’ve been in the hospitality industry for a long, long time.”

Burapa had a soft opening on April 2, and Boonyaket publicly announced its arrival on Tuesday (April 5) in the popular Vienna VA Foodies Facebook group.

For her new venture, Boonyaket partnered with co-owner and chef Noom Uthes, who ran a restaurant called Burapa Asian Bistro in Lovettsville, Virginia, for the past two years before relocating to Vienna.

While some of the street food from I-Thai is available, Burapa specializes in northeastern Thai dishes with a Laotian influence, reflecting Uthes’s origins in that part of Thailand. Its name translates to “east.”

Boonyaket will serve cocktails, wine, and drinks from Bo’s Rhapsody Bar, located inside the restaurant. A liquor license application is under review by the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority, which said the earliest an approval could come is April 17, she says.

Burapa represents a homecoming for its owners, who both started their cooking careers at Tara Thai’s Vienna location.

“We both used to work here when it was open 25 years ago,” Boonyaket said. “Okay, [we’re] back where we used to be and started and let’s do it again and bring something new to the Town of Vienna.”

Burapa is open from 11:15 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Sundays through Thursdays, and from 11:15 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

The menu includes staples like pad thai and drunken noodles as well as more unique offerings. Anyone who finishes the “Nuclear Challenge” — a dish of chicken stir-fried with various peppers, and a side of white rice — in under 30 minutes gets a free dessert and a photo in the restaurant’s hall of fame.

Boonyaket says one of the restaurant’s goals is to give customers more insight into the history and nuances of the northeastern Thai dishes, including Uthes’s specialty, the larb ped udon, a traditional duck salad with chicken liver and rice.

“It’s always a story behind every dish, and that’s what’s fun about it,” she said.