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Taste of Thai at Thai 208

Published online: Mar 01, 2024 Dining, East Idaho Business Maudie Heard
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At the core of any culture is food—recipes and cooking techniques that are passed down from generation to generation, filling bellies and hearts. At the core of the culture in Thailand are many fresh herbs and spices, and for some natives like the owner of restaurant Thai 208, ‘secret sauces.’

When Varaporn Higbee first opened the Thai 208 Food Truck in 2020 with the support of her longtime best friend Sriwan Lott, she wanted to share her passion for cooking authentic and traditional Thai cuisine in the East Idaho community. 

Vara’s traditional family recipes were loved by so many that she opened her first location in January of 2024. Located at 645 N Holmes Ave., customers can now enjoy table talk while dining in with friends and family, or Vara who loves to chat with her customers. 

Owners of Thai 208, Varaporn and Don Higbee.

What makes Thai 208 unique to the East Idaho dining scene is the diverse flavors and authenticity of the Thai dishes. “I want to share the taste of Thai with the American people,” Vara said. “Everything is cooked fresh, ingredients are bought fresh and I make my sauce by myself.”

Vara’s sauce recipe is referred to by her husband Don as her ‘secret sauce’—a longtime family recipe that she holds close to her heart. “Food is a big part of their culture in Thailand,” Don said. “When we’re on the phone with her family back home, the first thing her grandma will ask me is, ‘Have you eaten today?’ They always like to share and try different foods together.”

The cuisine at Thai 208 reflects the flavorful dishes of Thai street food—a rich part of Thailand’s culture. “Thai Fried Rice and the Beef and Chicken Noodle Soup are Thai street foods,” Vara said. “These dishes you can find everywhere on the streets in Thailand.”

Bringing a taste of Thailand’s culture to Idaho Falls means bringing more spice. “Some Thai restaurants worry that the American people can’t have spicy but here, the customer loves spicy,” Vara said. “Some curry is spicy and that can’t be changed because it should be spicy, like a red curry. But we have some curries that are not too spicy and on those ones, the customer can choose the spicy from 1 to 5.”

On the menu are a number of staple dishes originating from Thailand. Some of the more popular dishes are the Thai Massaman Curry, Duck Curry, Pad Ka Pow Pork Belly with Fried Egg, Pad Thai, Cream Cheese Wontons, steamed and fried dumplings and egg rolls. Each dish is customizable with your protein of choice and–as with the curries–the option of the spice level from 1 to 5. 

Accompanied by her passion for cooking is Vara’s joy in meeting and chatting it up with patrons. “My favorite thing is just talking with the customers and especially the people who haven’t tried Thai food. I like to suggest different things for them,” Vara said. 

Thai 208 is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Head to www.thai208if.com for more information or to place a pickup order.

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