Photos by Sydney Livingston
UBON Thai—with a fresh new look and updated menu—serves Southeast Asian-inspired cuisine with Chef Wit Milburn’s own unique flair.
Chef Wit Milburn is no new phenomenon. Delaware’s “Thai Guy” made a name for himself serving up modern and refined versions of Thai and Southeast Asian classics in the region. After gaining experience in restaurants with his family, Milburn opened UBON Thai and Kapow Food Truck, both of which he’s owned and operated successfully for years.
A New Look
Now, after over a decade open, UBON Thai is getting a full refresh. Chef Wit’s personality and passion are clear to see throughout the updated space—and on the menu. The bar and main dining room in the riverfront eatery were once traditional temple-themed. What Milburn hopes to achieve now is more of an upscale version of Kapow: a contemporary space serving cuisine inspired by colorful cultures all along the Pacific Rim—from Korea to Thailand to Hawaii.
“I tried to re-create what my dad did,” Milburn explains. “But now I’m making it my own.”
The result is a beautiful atmosphere that does the mouthwatering food justice. The trickling sound of water and light, airy décor set the tone as soon as you sit down in the dining area. Accents like the light fixtures and cow-print seating give the space a young and contemporary feel.
Also new is a weekly DJ or live music performance. Rather than jazz and blues acts, Milburn hopes to liven things up with ’90s rap and alternative vibes. He’s also adding to the bar atmosphere with a couple of arcade games.
“A little bit of everything,” Milburn explains with a laugh. “I want this to be just a fun place to hang out.”
Another big change: Milburn also cut a hole in the back wall leading to the kitchen.
“I love the feel of an open kitchen,” he says. Whether the preference comes from his love of Thai and other Asian street food or his own experience running a food truck, the open feel certainly adds to the ambiance. Open kitchens give diners more opportunity to feel connected to the food and liven up a dining atmosphere.
Outside, a beach-themed patio with decorative surf boards and sand-dune fencing are planned to complete the riverfront eatery’s look this summer, offering patrons an outdoor atmosphere perfect to enjoy dishes inspired by various island cultures.
On top of that, Milburn is implementing many specials and events to offer guests a new experience with each visit. Thai Thursdays are all about introducing new Thai-inspired cocktail specials each month. Visit on Stir Fry Saturdays to enjoy a special off-menu stir fry, which also changes each month. Milburn loves to shake things up, using the tagline, “Thai a new experience.”
UBON Thai also offers catering, including the option to rent out the dining space for special events like office parties, happy hours, birthdays and more.
The changes to the UBON menu were thoughtfully planned to serve their purpose. Milburn hopes to deliver an experience, and menu updates contribute to that goal. Highlights include many more shareable options.
“With most Asian foods, you share everything,” Milburn explains. “I would love to bring some of that culture here.”
Americans aren’t always accustomed to dining this way, but Milburn designed this new menu with that in mind. The options inspire diners to want to try a little bit of everything. Overall, Milburn’s vision is to move away from one type of cuisine and instead draw influences from multiple regions.
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UBON fan-favorites like Korean BBQ meatballs, egg rolls, and popular noodle and rice dishes remain on the menu. The new fusion dishes are full of unique spins on old favorites. In a blend of Asian and European cuisine, one dish consists of shrimp and scallops in a champagne cream sauce sauce over sauteed veggie lo mein. The menu also features curries, the popular Thai Guy’s wings, lobster fried rice and much more.
UBON Thai Kitchen & Bar | 936 Justison Street, Wilmington | 656-1706 | @ubonthai