Thursday, July 18, 2024

Seattle staple Bai Tong Thai opens first Long Beach location

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Hitting 35 years of service with its original space near the Seattle-Tacoma Airport in Washington, Bai Tong Thai has stepped out of its Washington, Oregon, and Hawaiian roots to open its second, pick-up-or-to-go only California location in Long Beach, following the opening of their Anaheim location.

No—Long Beach’s Bai Tong will not be the sit-down experience Seattlelites have

Bai Tong will be opening a ghost location inside the Daisy Kitchen at 1388 Daisy Ave. across from The Hawk on Anaheim Street—so the space will be take-out or pick-up only, not a full dine-in experience like their other locations outside of California.

So while you sadly will not get specials like their yen ta food noodle dish that they serve at their street food inspired location in Seattle, you will find other Thai classics: pad thai, pad kee mao, larb, pineapple fried rice, a variation of curries like pa nang, a variation of other noodles like their house special (a wide noodle with a light sauce, egg, and green onion), and Seattle-specific staple dishes like the locally fames crispy garlic chicken…

The history of Bai Tong

Chanpen Lapangkura opened the original Bai Tong in 1989 near the Sea-Tac airport, inspired as by a former Thai Airways flight attendant and, as was her other “job,” attend to catering to the Thai Airways crew members by bringing in Thai chefs in order to cook meals like the ones they missed from back home.

Working side-by-side with the chefs, the appreciation of Chanpen’s food grew as did her ambitions: She decided to tackle the arduous task of opening a brick-and-mortar and, come 1989, formally take over a former root-beer restaurant-slash-drive-in by the airport’s north end.

Yes there was a controversy: The tax fraud case against owners of Bai Tong in 2019

Who doesn’t like a little drama? In 2005, founding owner Chanpen decided to begin to let the business be ran by others in the family, specifically her daughter, Chadillada Lapangkura, and her husband, Pornchai Chaiseeha. Under their tenure, Bai Tong flourished into multiple locations—and many of those locations would be the foci of an investigation by the IRS, including the Tukwila and Redmond Bai Tong locations as well as Noi Thai, a location they opened in Bendm Oregon.

According to the plea agreement they agreed to in August of 2019, the pair admitted to using software that would particularly focus on and then delete cash sales, resulting in government tax loss of $299,806 on sales totaling $1,034,750. Shortly after, Chadillada attended a Seattle Thai professionals group in order to speak about her parking in the tax evasion and how other businesses can still succeed without attempting to skirt the law.

Chaiseeha was sentenced to four months in prison while Lapangkura will spend six months behind bars in December of 2019. On top of prison time, Chaiseeha was ordered to pay $7,500 fine and Lapangkura will pay $10,000 after they had already paid the nearly $300,000 they owed.

“Use of this ‘tax zapper’ software not only cheats on state and federal taxes, it gives a business an unfair advantage over competitors who play by the rules,” said U.S. Attorney Brian Moran, in a press release on the sentencing. “These cases are time intensive to investigate, and I commend federal and state investigators for their work. These defendants thought with a computer keystroke they could get away with this fraud. They were wrong.”

Bai Tong Thai To-Go is located inside the Daisy Diner ghost kitchen at 1388 Daisy Ave. Your can order here.

Brian Addison
Brian Addison
Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 25 nominations and three additional wins. In 2019, he was awarded the Food/Culture Critic of the Year across any platform at the National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards.

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