The soft-spoken, yet confident, chef/owner of Mango Moon on Main Street has big plans in store for Manayunk.
On Saturday, Moon Krapugthong will close her namesake Mango Moon Thai restaurant to move forward with Yanako, a Japanese-themed concept she’s been developing since last fall.
Krapugthong says she’ll miss the fun two-floor building with the striking orange awning at 4161 Main Street, but says opening Yanako — just a few blocks down the road — is the right move.
“We have lovely customers here and we have our strong fans, but it’s not enough, it’s just not enough,” she said. “We need smaller size, smaller scale, more versatile space.”
At 4100 Main, Yanako will be a BYOB with an open kitchen and a sushi bar. It will open sometime this fall, across the street form Derek’s Restaurant.
“I love the open engagement of the chef and the customer,” she said. “It’s like you’re going to a theater.”
Krapugthong says the new location will help her gain visibility along Main Street and place her closer to her other restaurant, Chabaa Thai, which will be reopening by Mother’s Day, after undergoing an expansion.
The restaurant’s name, Yanako, means “Butterfly flower,” which, to Krapugthong, serves as an accurate analogy to her role in a male-dominated industry.
“It means woman, wise, strong, delicate, labor, love and passion,” she said.
Passion is what Krapugthong uses as a roadmap for new business endeavors. But the key, she says, is finding a healthy balance.
“You have to reach for the star, but your feet still need to touch the ground,” she said. “Tell me what it is and I’ll do it.”
The menu at Yanako will include lighter versions of authentic, exotic and homestyle Asian cuisine. Mango Moon’s chef in residence, Ige San, will be Yanako’s executive chef.
Krapugthong says she hopes the new restaurant exposes local residents to new food and encourages them to branch out from their typical orders.
“Prepare yourself; I will challenge people here,” she said. ” Every time you come, try something new, that’s all I ask; you have to trust the chef.”
Chef Moon will be hosting a two-night tasting on April 19 and April 20 at Chabaa to celebrate her April 4 guest chef appearance at James Beard House in New York City.