For Sinarack Macvilay, the name of her Thai and Laotian restaurant is in honor of her four sons.
The third location of Rising Sons opened March 14 at 600 West Verona Ave. Macvilay’s sons help manage that location, and two others on Madison’s State Street and High Point Road. But the High Point location is closed temporarily to focus on Verona.
Macvilay’s son Arya will manage the Verona restaurant – which Arya said he is “really excited” to take over.
While the family took over the space of former Verona restaurant Jordandal Cookhouse, Sinarack said they went back to square one and had a lot to prepare from the dining room floor to the kitchen. But Sinarack said at this point they are pretty good to go, and can now focus on preparing and cooking their authentic Southeast Asian food.
While she said it’s hard to choose one thing, Sinarack said some of her favorite dishes on the Verona menu include the coconut chicken noodle soup and the papaya salad platter – the latter of which she said she could eat every day.
Other popular menu items include the Laos sausage, sticky rice, Tom Kha, Tom Yum, Pad Thai, and Mok Pa – which is catfish steamed with lots of dill and other herbs.
She and customers also love the variety of different curries, she said. That’s especially because everything is homemade one dish at a time and many ingredients are sourced locally, Sinarack said.
“We cook for people how we want to eat, we don’t just rush it out,” she said.
The business is truly a family affair, from how it’s staffed to what it serves. At one point, there were four generations of the family helping with Rising Sons, until Sinarack’s grandmother died last spring at 100. Her husband helps after work, but primarily does research at University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Sinarack said many of the recipes come from her mother and grandmother, but also said she “lives and learns,” learning by experimenting while cooking the dishes, and that helps make the recipes.
The family has been in Madison for over two decades, after relocating from Iowa in 1995. They haven’t always been restaurateurs, though, Sinarack said.
Sinarack and her husband worked as researchers for University of Iowa, and when the chairperson of their department relocated to University of Wisconsin-Madison, the family came with. They helped with published research in departments including the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, where Sinarack worked from 1995 to 2013.
The family’s business began as a grocery store and deli on South Park Street in Madison from 2000 to 2004, and then moved to University Square from 2004 to 2006.
But the family was pushed out of both locations by urban developments, Sinarack said. It opened a location on State Street in 2006, which remains open, but Sinarack said it has been a rough and hard past year for them there. She said that location was looted during demonstrations following George Floyd’s death last May, in addition to being impacted by COVID-19 restrictions.
While the indoor seating area is ready in Verona, including a small private dining room, for now the business will remain carryout-only. She said that during the first month, business was good, better even than the other locations.
“It’s been really nice, people are very nice and kind around here,” she said.