A High-End Sushi Chef Brings Thai Street Food to Georgetown

Rimtang is a tribute to chef Saran "Peter" Kannasute's mother.

Rimtang will serve classic Thai dishes and regional specialties. Photograph courtesy of Rimtang.

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Rimtang, 1039 33rd St., NW.

Kyojin, the last restaurant chef Saran “Peter” Kannasute opened, is a high-end flex— the kind of place that serves squid ink pasta topped with uni, ikura, caviar, truffle sauce, and 24-karat gold.

His follow up to the Japanese dining room, also in Georgetown, is just the opposite. Rimtang, which opens in late July, draws on Kannasute’s childhood in Thailand, where his mom owned a restaurant. In fact, Kannasute’s mother, Prapit La Femina, is the head chef at Rimtang.

“It reminds me of when we started doing the restaurant with my mom,” Kannasute says. “She’d go and take me to the market at 2 AM in the morning to pick good quality ingredients.”

Rimtang takes over the 40-seat space in the humble brick building formerly home to Kintaro. It’s just steps from Kyojin on Cady’s Alley, but feels like it’s a world away. With wood beams and a homey, warm atmosphere, it’s meant to suggest a comfortable street food establishment in Bangkok (“rimtang” refers to a sidewalk stall). 

“It’s very earthy,” co-owner Jeff King says. “It’s nothing like Kyojin, which is over the top and flashy.”

La Femina, who goes by “Chef Oy,” grew up in Isan, in northeastern Thailand, and some of her repertoire comes from the spicy, funky country cooking of that region. But she raised Kannasute in Bangkok, where he experienced and learned to cook Thailand’s other regional cuisines. 

After moving to the US (initially to Florida), Kannasute fell in love with sushi. His first restaurant, Yume Sushi, is still a successful refined option in Arlington, and he and King took things a step further last summer by opening the luxurious Kyojin. 

But this is Kannasute’s first restaurant serving the cuisine of his childhood. He, La Femina, King, and Kannasute’s wife Cici Yang, have created a Thai menu that spans familiar curries and noodles, and regionally specific dishes they hope to bring to a new audience. 

Chef Saran “Peter” Kannasute is opening Rimtang in July with his mom, Prapit La Femina, who owned a restaurant in Bangkok. Photograph courtesy of Rimtang.

You’ll find spring rolls, panang curry, tom yum, and pad thai at Rimtang. But you can also try the fried spicy pork ball salad, sour gaeng som curry with crab, spicy larb moo, and herbal oxtail soup. Main dishes go for $16 and $29. 

Kannasute and La Femina are also excited to start serving a set tasting menu that will be seasonal and regionally specific. Inspired by his own experience with omakase service, Kannasute wants to offer diners a chef-guided tour of Thailand. 

“There’s a lot of Thai food, it’s all different,” he says. “We give them the knowledge of what’s northern Thailand, what’s south, what’s east, what’s west. In the future, maybe they go to Thailand and they know what kind of food they should try.”

But for many diners, Rimtang will be a more casual experience: a no-reservations neighborhood Thai restaurant open seven days a week, and offering takeout.

For a chef who has long pursued luxurious Japanese cooking, Rimtang will be a return to the cuisine and style of service of the first restaurant where he ever worked—his mom’s.

“It’s like an ode from chef Peter to his mother,” King says. 

Ike Allen
Assistant Editor