Miami Neighbor: Restauranteur Bond Trisransri

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Bond Trisransri is a restaurateur in La Pequeña Habana (Little Havana), Miami's predominantly Latino community. A native of Bangkok, Thailand, Trisransri opened a Thai and sushi restaurant in the middle of a community where Cuban coffee and rice and blacks beans are way more common than curry and tofu. Surprisingly, his restaurant, Mr Yum, 1945 SW 8th St., opened in 2009 to crowds and enthusiastic support from the neighbors. We asked Trisransri what he likes about his neighborhood.

Name:
Bond Trisransri, 36

Born: Bangkok, Thailand

Moved to Miami: Trisransri moved to Miami 15 years ago to work with his uncle at Sushi Rock on Collins Avenue in Miami Beach after graduating from Boston University.

Occupation: Restaurateur

Neighborhood: Little Havana, Miami (Bond Lives on Brickell Avenue, a five-minute walk from his restaurant)

What made you decide to open a Thai restaurant in the heart of Little Havana?
i became a partner in Sushi Rock. I was there for 15 years and I wanted to own my own business. I planned to open something in London, but my partner, who is a real estate agent, told me to look around [Miami]. I drove through Little Havana. I had never been there in 15 years. I saw the energy on Eighth Street (Calle Ocho).

I felt good about this area. I knew it was all Spanish and that it would be tough to offer sushi, but there was something calling me there to take a look. There's something good about this [building]. I have a long-term lease but I plan to buy it in a couple months. Everybody told me I was crazy and that "you're not going to make it." But I feel very positively about the neighborhood.

What do you love most about Little Havana?
I like the energy. I was touched by that. The neighbors are very friendly. I think Little Havana will be the next Lincoln Road. I want to take Little Havana to the next level. I would like to open a french restaurant, a bar, a book store.

So you do talk to your neighbors on Calle Ocho?
Yes. The neighbors are very nice. The owners of the Mexican restaurant next door would bring me food when we were working on the restaurant. The neighbors appreciate my being in the neighborhood. They think I bring good things to the neighborhood. I have good clients that come from everywhere. Most of them have never been to Calle Ocho.

Everyone calls me Mr. Yum.

What's the best-kept secret in Little Havana?
When you sit down outside and watch the traffic, you feel like you are in a different country. It's like being in a Spanish city but you're five minutes from Brickell and ten minutes from Coconut Grove.

I always see something different. I walk down the street and go to Domino Park and see the old men playing dominoes. When people come to my restaurant they see things they've never seen before. They have the same experiences I first did.

South Beach used to be like that. Lincoln Road was like that and now it's one of the most famous streets in the world. I see the same thing for Calle Ocho.

Favorite way to spend a Saturday night in your neighborhood?
I pretty much spend most of my time at the restaurant. But when I'm home, I cook, I read magazines and I run.

Do you speak Spanish?
I'm learning some Spanish from the dishwasher. He teaches me some good words and some bad words.

How did you settle on your hair style?
I've been doing this for ten years. I did some modeling and this European magazine decided to make my hair look like this. I thought this was cool and kept it. Now I can't change it; it's become my thing. People know me because of the hair. On Sunday mornings I wear it down. You wouldn't recognize me.

Have you adapted to the neighborhood or has the neighborhood adapted to you?
I adapted to the neighborhood. I really respect Calle Ocho. I want to be respectful of the people and respect the area.

I'm trying to speak Spanish. I guess a Spanish girlfriend would help. But maybe they have adopted to me too. When I stand outside, people drive by and honk their horns. I feel like they're cheering me. They are happy that I'm here. They make me feel so welcome.
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