Southern Tier's Growing Tastes

By Matt Porter

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    A dessert platter from the Czech Pleeze Bakery on 233 Robinson St in Binghamton. First opened in 2012.

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November 20, 2012 Updated Nov 6, 2013 at 4:30 PM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Stoves belching fire under fast moving woks stand out when you enter the kitchen of Thai Time.

The restaurant opened eight months ago on Front Street in downtown Binghamton, it was a dream for its 34-year-old owner Aaron Chamleunsouk.

"When I was young I kind of grew into it, I started out at 16-years-old working in a restaurant," said Chamleunsouk, "I kind of create as I go."

Chamleunsouk opened Thai Time with the help of his family. His mom helps prepare food every day.

He thinks his food can add to local palates.

"The kind of flavor I'm bringing is totally different from what everybody else has," he said.

More new flavors are finding their way onto plates all over Greater Binghamton.

At least ten new international restaurants have opened up, many in the last few years.

Vice President of the Southern Tier Chapter for the New York Restaurant Association Steve Lupo said Binghamton dining is entering a new era.

"Now people are really liking new opportunities, new food," Lupo said, "They want spices, they want different things."

Steve Lupo, a longtime restaurant owner himself, said Binghamton's seeing a whole new kind of diner.

And that's not a bad thing.

"With the students, it's really branched out, it's good for everybody, it just creates a buzz downtown," he said.

Up the road on Main Street at the Taj Indian Restaurant, Shakeel Ansari has seen that growth since opening eight years ago.

He said most people never saw Indian food when he opened.

"When I started people were thinking it's too spicy food," Ansari said, "Once they eat, once they try, they know how good it is."

His business has evolved to include catering and other foods.

"If I depend only on Indian food, I can't survive," he said.

And at Thai Time, they're also evolving. They are already underway on constructing a bar and overflow room for weekend nights.

General manager and family friend Robert Donahue says they've been barely able to keep up with demand.

"It blew all of us away," Donahue said, "It grew farther, faster, than any of us could have imagined."

Food from the other side of the world, now in the Southern Tier.

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