Rak Tocharoen came from Thailand 13 years ago and now owns Amata Thai Fusion in the Beaufort Town Center. He brought with him not only plans for a fantastic restaurant but also Buddhist traditions from home. As you walk along the sidewalk in front of the restaurant, you will see a plate of food with plastic cutlery under the palmetto tree. Curiously enough, there is another plate on the wire table in the outdoor dining area. Every day, a fresh plate including a cup of soup, a bowl of rice, apple slices, and a mixture of chicken and vegetables is left in three locations: under the palm tree, on the table and in his office.
Two shelves are set up as a hierarchy of shrines in the restaurant office, both replete
with symbolism. For example, they are secured so high on the wall that one must stand on a chair to switch out the plates of food. Displayed on the highest shelf is a statue of Buddha with gold leafing over the shoulder (adding gold leafing to a Buddha statue is a way to earn merit for future life). To honor Buddha, offerings that appeal to the five senses are often included such as the incense for smell and the food for taste. A garland with white beads is the recognition of the beauty of his teachings.
The second shelf, which is mounted lower than the shrine for Buddha, is dedicated to
Chulalongkorn the Great [1868-1910], the fifth monarch of Siam, (present-day Thailand). According to Wikipedia, the Siamese called him “The Royal Buddha- he is considered one of the greatest kings of Siam” because he dedicated his monarchy and politics to saving Siam from Western colonization. The small black statue with gold leafing is the Royal Standard of Thailand, depicting a mythical Garuda. This bird-like creature appears on the official flag of the King of Thailand. In addition to these representations of status and the offering of food, Rak will daily place a glass of wine on the shelf, “because the king liked wine,” he smiles. Hanging on the wall to the right, a gold-framed print of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej pays homage to Thailand’s present king.
Across Boundary Street is a large cemetery bordered by beautiful marsh on one side. The grounds are protected from the busy road by a chain link fence, and the vegetation is wild. While most never think to glance at the cemetery as they pass, Rak is the opposite. He humbly appeals to the good will of the departed for his business by leaving food under the palm tree in front of the restaurant. In the same sentiment, he shows respect for his father, Decha Tocharoen, with an offering of food from his own restaurant, the fruit of his own labor.