Page 1

Adventures in Food


A community of like-minded nomads, united in the pursuit of food; from chefs and restaurants to street food, culinary events and international forums. Come and discover a new culinary universe with us. See the website for future events.

Contact us:


Publisher’s Letter

his October, we dedicate the magazine to fine dining, a divisive term that has undoubtedly shifted in meaning over recent years, certainly in Bangkok. Once a term for the bastion of high society and the pinnacle of the culinary world, fine dining has undergone a global challenge, with chefs taking a more relaxed approach to menus and presentation, and customers mostly expecting much the same. It appears that dining out nowadays in much more about the experience and creating memories, than simply good food. That’s not to say that fine dining restaurants are going anywhere soon, as we learn from speaking to a host of industry experts in “What Does Fine Dining Mean to You?” (pg. 19-23). We take a look at what fine dining means in Bangkok now in “Have We Had Our Fill of Fussy Fine Dining?” (pg. 24-27) and were given the unique opportunity to speak to an ex-Michelin inspector (pg. 30-31) about their opinion on the future of fine dining. You’ll find our usual columnists on great form in the Snapshots section of the magazine, followed by a rather unusual departure in our Travel pages, in which we move away from Thailand and go overseas to hear about Jay Fai in Copenhagen (pg. 44-49) and Bobby Chinn in Cambodia and Vietnam (pg. 50-57). There’s a busy Arts & Culture section, including an interview with the poet and publisher Megan Ross about her new poetry book, Milk Fever (pg. 64-65) and a standout Photo Feature documenting behind the scenes of service at the two Michelin-starred Le Normandie at the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok (pg. 67-73). We also welcome new columnists to the Food & Drink pages (pg. 76-79)—as some familiar names return to the pages of the magazine—followed by restaurant reviews, chef interviewers (“Breaking Bread”, pg. 92-93) and all of the usual Food & Drink and Nightlife Listings. Finally, we sign-off with our monthly “Did You Know?” (pg. 108) in which we recommend a few standout dining options in Bangkok Old City. All of this and more—including Enjoy. our 101 archive and extras—can be found online at www.bangkok101. com. A couple of clicks are all it takes to keep in touch with what’s Mason Florence happening in Bangkok and beyond. And, if you as a reader feel there’s Publisher something we’re not covering, but should be, please drop us a line at

What is Bangkok 101 Independent and unbiased, Bangkok 101 caters to savvy travellers who yearn for more than what they find in guidebooks. It brings together an authoritative who’s who of city residents, writers, photographers and cultural commentators. The result is a compact and intelligent hybrid of monthly travel guide and city magazine that takes you on and off the well-worn tourist track. Bangkok 101 employs the highest editorial standards, with no fluff, and no smut. Our editorial content cannot be bought. We rigorously maintain the focus on our readers, and our ongoing mission is to ensure they enjoy this great city as much as we love living in it.

B A N G K O K 101 P A R T N E R S

OCTOBER 2018 | 5



Metro Beat Find out what’s going on this month in Bangkok


My Bangkok Photo Feature A Photography Exhibition by Peruvian Artists Leslie Searles and Musuk Nolt



16 Best of BKK 19th World Gourmet Festival After-Party 19

Best of BKK Chef de Cuisine of Le Normandie Mandarin Oriental Bangkok



Best of BKK Examining the current dining climate in Bangkok

40 Heritage Antiques shopping at JJ Mall

30 Best of BKK A Michelin Guide’s perspective 32


Best of BKK The competitive climate of restaurants vying for your baht


Now New Next Tradition and innovation with Chef Zaiyu Hasegawa owner of Den restaurant


Joe’s Bangkok Tommie Duncan shares his love of football


Overseas 101 We travel with Chef Thitid ‘Ton’ Tassanakajohn of LeDu restaurant and Jay Fai to Denmark


Travel Special Feature Celebrity chef and TV presenter Bobby Chinn sets off on a return journey to Southeast Asia


60 Art Exhibitions The latest museum gallery openings across the city 62


Museum Spotlight National Museum presents the best of Thai art in a new and contemporary presentation

64 Interview The poetic tales of Megan Ross 68 Photo Feature Style and finesse of service at the two Michelin-starred Le Normandie restaurant

Bangkok 101 is available at: 6 | OCTOBER 2018

ART CUISINE Pla Tubtim Tod Khamin Pla Tubtim Tod Khamin is fried red tilapia with turmeric. Popularly used in southern dishes, turmeric provides both flavours and Ayurvedic properties. This is one of Ruen Urai’s “Southern Comfort” menus, inspired by multi-cultural southern Thai cuisine. Experience fine Thai culinary arts in the oasis that is Ruen Urai, “The House of Gold.” Open from noon to 11 p.m.

Ruen Urai at the Rose Hotel 118 Soi Na Wat Hualumphong, Surawongse Road Tel. (66) 2 266 8268-72



Food & Drink Updates

76 Kitchen Backstories Foraging for Tai Yai cuisine in Chiang Rai 77

Chew On This Bangkok reaching for global standards


Eat Like Nym Sonny’s a fusion of French-Thai-style


Bitchin’ in the Kitchen Samantha tells it like it is


Special Report What you didn’t know olive oil


Restaurant Reviews Il Bolognese, Lelawadee, Tables Grill, The Reflexions, Tapas Vino


Breaking Bread with Chef Nikolas Ramirez, Char


Food & Drink Listings Capsule reviews of select restaurants in Bangkok



103 Special Interview DJ SoShine Pokpathom Nukhao 104 Bar Reviewss Sky on 20 106 Nightlife Listings

SIGNING OFF 108 Did You Know?... Dining in the Old Town’s most attractive neighbourhoods

101 Nightlife Updates



Narong Srisaiya

Jhone El’Mamuwaldi



Thanakrit Skulchartchai

Ornuma Promsrikaew




Mason Florence

Sebastien Berger Nathinee Chen





Tipparnee Prajakwit

Jim Algie, Luc Citrinot, Kelly Harvey, Jurgen Lijcops, Robin Westley Martin, Taylor Ounsiem, Korakot (Nym) Punlopruksa, Anansit Sangsawang, Lekha Shankar, Tom Vitayakul, Charity Waltenbough

Wasin Banjerdtanakul


Dr Jesda M. Tivayanond


David J. Constable EDITOR-AT-LARGE


Anansit Sangsawang


Pichet Ruengjit


Panisara Bunnag


Talisman Media Group Co., Ltd. 54 Naradhivas Rajanagarinda Soi 4, Sathorn Tai Rd,Yannawa, Sathorn, Bangkok 10120 Tel: 02 286 7821 Fax: 02 286 7829 © Copyright Talisman Media Group Co., Ltd 2018. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the express written, prior permission of the publisher. Views expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of the publisher, which accepts no responsibility for them.

CITY PULSE | metro beat



October 4

Already labeled as the next big thing in electronic music, Throttle has collaborated with the likes of Galantis, Oliver Heldens and officially remixed for Ed Sheeran before his performance at the world famous Tomorrowland festival earlier this year. Using a unique blend of organic and electronic sounds, he puts his own unique stamp on every production. Throttle isn’t about what’s trending now, but what’s cool indefinitely. Catch him live for the first time in Thailand at Levels on Thursday 4th October 2018! Entry tickets cost B300 for men and B200 for ladies (includes a drink).

October 1

In it’s fourth annual edition The Peninsula Bangkok teams up with Gastronauts Asia this year for the much-anticipated EAT-DRINK-PINK charity feast in the hotel’s Sakuntala Ballroom. Over 35 of Bangkok’s leading indie restaurants will serve up gourmet bites alongside a free flowing cascade of craft beers, fine wines and, of course, S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna mineral waters. Tickets are priced at B3,000 with 100% of proceeds donated to the Queen Sirikit Centre for Breast Cancer Foundation. To secure your place at this exceptional epicurean event contact The Peninsula Bangkok at 02 020 2888, or email For more information, visit 10 | OCTOBER 2018

October 5-6

XXO Party is a dance circuit party coming to Bangkok this month at Novotel Bangkok (Sukhumvit 20). Bringing many of the top Circuit DJs—such as GSP, Spectrum K and Enrico Meloni—and dancers from all over the world to the city, along with great production and top sound systems, XXO Party is an exclusive event not to be missed. Several ticket prices are available, starting from B1,500.

October 11

#JAMNIGHT Live! returns to Rockademy in Bangkok, this time with a new artist, Snail Mail. Snail Mail is the American indie rock solo project of guitarist and singer-songwriter Lindsey Jordan. In 2015, she started playing her songs live with her band and released the EP Habit in 2016. Snail Mail’s debut studio album, Lush, was released in June earlier this year. Tickets start at B1,200. snailmail

ICSA 2018


International Chefs Summit Asia 2018



16 OCT12:30-17:00

ICSA 2018 Chef’s and Pastry chef’s summit and talk Venue: Taipei Marriott Hotel (Garden Villa)

15.16 OCT18:30-22:30

ICSA 2018 8 hands dinner Venue: INGE’S 20F Taipei Marriott Hotel No. 199 Lequn 2nd Road, ZhongShan District, Taipei Taiwan +886 2 8502 9999

ICSA 2018


#ICSA #ICSA2018 Organizer

Media Partner

International Chefs Summit Asia 2018


ICSA Website

CITY PULSE | metro beat


MUSIC October 20

The music of 29-year-old English musician Bruno Major is designed to make you cry. His debut album A Song For Every Moon is a syllabus of heartbreak and sadness that could squeeze a tear out of the most hardened soul. One of his tracks, On Our Own, was written after his grandmother passed away. He will be performing at NOMA (RCA Block C, 21/66 Rama 9 Rd.) on the 20th with tickets costing B850.

October 26-28

October 6

Get ready for the biggest blockbuster in ONE Championship history, when ONE: KINGDOM OF HEROES electrifies Bangkok’s Impact Arena with the world’s most exciting martial arts action. Headlining the event is one of the world’s top pound-for-pound boxers, Thai national hero Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, who will defend his WBC Super Flyweight World Championship against Iran “MagnifiKO” Diaz of Mexico. Category ticket prices vary. B5,000 ticket holders are entitled to: Red Carpet entry, ONE Lounge access & Exclusive Souvenir Program; B12,000 VVIP Cage-side ticket holders are entitled to: onechampionship-en.html

OCTOBER 7 & 21

The objective of His Majesty and the Royal Bangkok Sports Club was to introduce and promote the quality of horse racing and breeding in Thailand while providing sporting facilities of international standards for Thais and expatriates. Public Grandstands allow the general public to attend race days and enjoy this fascinating spectacle. October race days are Sunday 7th and 21st 12 | OCTOBER 2018

Direct from their sell-out seasons in London, USA, Hong Kong and Edinburgh comes GOBSMACKED! a mind-blowing vocal show that redefines the human voice. Featuring the reigning world-champion beatboxer, Ball-Zee, and an international cast of world-class vocalists, GOBSMACKED! weaves stories through all forms of a cappella from traditional street corner harmonies to cutting-edge, multi-track live looping. Suitable for all ages, this is a fun, fast-paced show at the Ultra Arena Hall, Show DC will certainly lift the spirits. Tickets start at B500 with VIP tickets available for B5,700 (include meet and greet with autograph signing).

October 28

Fans of great voices are in for a treat when British pop-soul singer Sam Smith coming to Thailand bringing his The Thrill Of It All Tour to Impact Arena, Muang Thong Thani on the 28th. Sam Smith is one of the UK’s leading contemporary artists and has enjoyed massive success all across the world. Tickets start at B2,000. A “SAM SMITH VIP PACKAGE” is also available for B9,000. Don’t miss this opportunity to experience the magnificent voice of Sam Smith live in Bangkok!

metro beat | CITY PULSE



October 31

Confirmed by Southeast Asia promoters, American singer and songwriter, Khalid, will perform for one night only in Bangkok on the 31st (Halloween) at GMM Live House at Central World. His debut album American Teen was released in 2017, and pulses with euphoric dance beats, Eighties synths and tales of marijuanaand booze-fueled high school raging. Regular tickets are priced at B1,500/B2,500 and B2,000/ B3,000 on the door. concert/khalid-american-teentour-2018-th.html

FOOD October 6-7, 13-14, 27-28

Come and support local producers across the October weekends at the Bangkok Farmer’s Market (or BKKFM for short) on Onnuch Road in Sukhumvit 77. Wander the stalls and meet the vendors. Shop for organic produce, artisan breads, natural home and body care, natural clothing and handmade jewelry. Partake in arts & crafts workshops, with plenty of kids activities, live music and more. Open Saturday and Sunday from 7am.

CINEMA Throughout October

BKKSR is very proud to announce that they will be the exclusive cinema presenting the original Italian horror classic, Suspiria, from Thursday 18th October. This is a must see before you see the 2018 remake. Also, the strange and beautiful, award winning Portuguese film, The Ornithologist is coming exclusively to BKKSR as well as the joyous 80’s Thai musical O’ Money (เงิน เงิน เงิน). Adults: B300 / Members: B240 / Students: B250.

October 1-18

Although the Bangkok International Festival of Dance & Music began in mid-September, it’s a monthly double-header with plenty of performances still to enjoy this month. As this is the 20th year of the landmark festival, expect a diverse schedule of international performances from the likes of the star-studded Moscow State Ballet, a unique tribute to Michael Jackson, the Karlsruhe Ballet Company from Germany, Los Vivancos and their “Born to Dance” stage spectacular all the way from Spain, the vibrant and colourful dance and music sentation of Taj Express, and much, much more. Book your tickets for the whole family!

Until December 31

The Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles celebrates Her Majesty’s seventh cycle birthday by showcasing her exquisite taste in fashion. The exhibition Fit for a Queen: HM Queen Sirikit’s Creations by Balmain focuses on her relationships with Pierre Balmain and François Lesage, two legendary French couturiers who created dresses for the monarch during her trips to Europe and America. Lovers of fashion history will be privy to how Her Majesty’s impeccable style evolved and developed over the years through a series of luxurious gowns, suits, cocktail dresses, and traditional and modern Thai costumes. Admission is FREE. OCTOBER 2018 | 13

CITY PULSE | best of bkk

14 | OCTOBER 2018

best of bkk | CITY PULSE

A Photography Exhibition by Peruvian Artists Leslie Searles and Musuk Nolt October 12-31, 2018


“Musuk Nolt and Leslie Searles have managed to glimpse an intimate and secret fire, the one that only shines in the depths of darkness. After all, photography is the art of unveiling.”

here is something remarkable command of their apparently contradictory craft and an exquisite sensibility in these photographs, are capable of facing. In this a fact that both disturbs and case, the coincidence between Guillermo Niño de Guzmán seduces at the same time, a aesthetic aspirations and the feature that gives them a strange and hypnotic power. management of technical resources is admirable. Because, instead of looking for clarity, the authors Otherwise, these photographs are disturbing because wanted to immerse themselves in the kingdom of they are not only meant for contemplation. Rather, they shadows, as if they wanted to take a journey back to reveal the desire to explore unsuspected territories, their origins, to that state of affairs in which darkness the need to transfigure reality. The visual compositions prevailed and there were hardly any shreds of light, stand out for the creation of evanescent atmospheres enough to give a meaning to the world. that transport us to a dream environment, to a place of the soul where a timeless clamour resounds. They Dealing with the darkness, forcing the legibility of the are located on that border where human experience image, entails risks that only photographers with a succumbs to the splendor of the sacred.

House of Lucie Center for Photography

1 Ekkamai 8 Alley, Phra Khanong Nuea, Watthana

OCTOBER 2018 | 15

CITY PULSE | best of bkk

16 | OCTOBER 2018

best of bkk | CITY PULSE

WGF After-Party

Charcoal Tandoor Grill & Mixology To celebrate Anantara Siam’s 19th World Gourmet Festival, international chefs, journalists and local Bangkokians, gathered last month to drink, nibble and raise a glass to the great success of Bangkok’s premier annual dining event.


“Soho Hospitality was delighted to host isiting international the event at Charcoal Tandoor Grill & of the city’s most adventurous chefs from twelve Mixology in collaboration with Gastronauts libations, the bar staff kept Michelin-starred Asia and San Pellegrino. The event gave the booze flowing, serving restaurants took a wellus an opportunity to showcase one of up Black Money, Muffety Mai deserved break from the our flagship restaurants along with an and Bollywood Passionfruit kitchen during Anantara Siam’s opportunity to enjoy an evening with cocktails throughout the night. 19th World Gourmet Festival, all the World Gourmet Festival chefs At one point during and mingle with press and and participants. It was a real highlight the evening, Bobby Chinn— diners at the official WGF watching Bobby Chinn attempting to make accompanied by a brigade of After-Party, hosted by Rohit a naan bread in the kitchen with our chefs. international chefs: Bernard Sachdev at Bangkok’s iconic Special thanks to Filippo Cassagbi and Bach, Martin Dalsass, Ryohei Charcoal Tandoor Grill & Mason Florence for their support.” Hieda, Jeong Ho Kim, Han Li Mixology. Guang, Alessandra del Favero, Rohit Sachdev Trays of delectable Indian Oliver Piras, sake master Seju canapés came fresh from Yang and chocolatiers Paul A the kitchen—Tandoori Raan, Young and Hayley Parker— Murgh Angar, Dum Ke Bhooley, entered the kitchen to try their Galauti Kebab, Tandoori hand at cooking naan bread Lobster and Mango Parfait—as guests let their hair in the tandoor ovens, alongside Charcoal head chef, down for an evening of live jazz and saxophone alongside Hasan Rizvi. Music played, people danced, cocktails expertly-crafted cocktails. Know for producing some were consumed at pace.

OCTOBER 2018 | 17

best of bkk | CITY PULSE

WHAT DOES FINE DINING MEAN TO YOU? With opinions on fine dining and its future divided, we meet the experts from the restaurant and hospitality industry to find out their opinion on what fine dining means to them. In conversation with David J. Constable

ARNAUD DUNAND SAUTHIER Chef de Cuisine of Le Normandie Mandarin Oriental Bangkok

Fine dining is about professional food and professional “service, everything that will comfort and even, at times, surprise the guests. It’s about a warming and special environment in which staff offer the customer something they are not used to or haven’t eaten before, on a normal basis. In fine dining, it is important for the food to be a reflection of the chef’s personality in order to create a bond between chef and diner. You have to

impress the customer and create unique experiences for them. You want everything to be memorable. Most guests who come to Le Normandie visit because of a special occasion: a birthday, a wedding anniversary or Valentines’ Day, something like that, so their expectations are high and they are ready and waiting to be impressed. That puts a lot of pressure on the staff and the kitchen, but it’s our job to deliver. We aim high.

OCTOBER 2018 | 19

CITY PULSE | best of bkk

NIANNE-LYNN HENDRICKS Chief Sub Editor Guru, Life, Bangkok Post


Manager Tables Grill, Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok

Fine dining, a term often used to describe fancy “menus “ To me, fine dining is about the harmony of with mediocre food served over white quality ingredients, vibrant wines, neat service and tablecloths by waiters in bowties. Like the sudden spring of Thai fine dining restaurants popping up in Bangkok in recent years, each with their own gimmicks, there’s proof that very few understand the concept of fine dining. To me, however, the two words are so much more than just a spectacle of sorts. Fine dining is about the personality of the chef, the character of the restaurant and what it’s trying to convey, whether it’s playful plating, minimalism on a plate as a way of showcasing the aspects of the ingredients or more often than not, seasonal produce brought to life using modern or traditional techniques. Chefs and restaurants are adapting and because they are, the term “fine dining” is having to adapt too. Fine dining is an expression of how different ingredients work well together to pleasure the palate, paired with a mixture of good drinks and service. It doesn’t always have to be mediocre food served over white tablecloths by waiters in bowties, followed by a silly price-tag. It should be an experience for the customer, much like opera, where everything resonates to the chef’s and the restaurant’s expression on a plate. 20 | OCTOBER 2018

conviviality. When all of those things come together during service, then a restaurant is doing their job and the customer is promised a memorable and enjoyable experience. With my team at Tables Grill, at the Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok, we strive to create memorable and genuine experiences for our guests. We want to evoke emotion and share our passion for fine food, cheese and wine with them. It’s about sharing knowledge and helping the customer as much as we can. One of the most important things is the sharing. For me, the service should be very simple, fluid and flawless throughout, from the moment the guest arrives to the moment they leave. It doesn’t matter about the age or the budget, a customer is a customer and we are there to offer them the best experience possible, from beginning to end. This is fine dining. It’s about consistency too, offering first-rate food and service whatever time or day of the week. Fine dining, I think, is about understanding our guests and their needs. It’s about interacting with them in a natural, friendly way and telling a story.

best of bkk | CITY PULSE

DAVIDE CONTU SALIS Sales Manager GFour-Fine Wines & Spirits

RUNGTHIWA CHUMMONGKHON Chef de Cuisine Front Room, Waldorf Astoria Bangkok

When I think about fine dining, I expect exquisite “dishes, “I have a lot of experience in what most people would prepared with the highest quality and in- term ‘fine dining’ restaurants, having worked in the season ingredients, paired with the most suitable wines, and served in a charming environment by professional staff throughout. To me, this is what fine dining is all about. And then, more often than not, it’s a meal followed by a hot bill to be paid with a credit card! Superstar chefs such as the French chef, Paul Bocuse, and the nouvelle cuisine movement might be considered precursors of the current  expression. Fine dining can even be compared to a form of Art or a kind of Magic, because it is something rare and special, there to bring joy and excitement to the customer. If the experience is enjoyable for the customer, then people will talk about it and share their experiences with others. It all begins with a dream in the mind of the chef which then, over time, becomes real through their creative touches, elaborating on the best, in-season ingredients to be presented in the most beautiful of ways—and beautiful of settings—aiming to please the most exigent palate and to become an unforgettable, even at times, seductive experience for the diner. Above all, fine dining should be something memorable.

likes of Noma, Geranium and with Kevin Fehling. Fine dining to me means meeting expectations, from the customers to the staff to the chef leading the kitchen brigade. It means the very highest quality of service, ingredients and wines. It doesn’t mean expensive, although many fine dining restaurants and Michelinrated experiences are. It’s about enjoyment, creating memories for the customer and making sure that they are happy in a comfortable environment. More often than not—but not always—you pay for what you get, and ensuring the best in-season ingredients, the best experienced service and kitchen staff, is something you have to pay for. At the Waldorf Astoria we are all about creating experiences in a unique and special environment. We pride ourselves on our attention to detail. My job is to gather all of my international experiences in order to create menus that will wow our diners and have them talking, remembering their meal here. Again, it’s about expectations and in the end, offering a five-star service that makes people smile. Fine dining will continue to have a future, as long as it makes people smile.

OCTOBER 2018 | 21

CITY PULSE | best of bkk


Maître d’ & Manager L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon Bangkok


Beverage Division Director, Global Food Products TH (S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna)

Fine dining…. who can tell us what it really means? “I think “I like what fine dining represents today and the those in the industry can certainly help thanks beautiful world behind its etiquette. I’m attracted to to their experience with chefs, restaurants and customers. For me, fine dining is certainly changing and it’s not as strict or easy to describe as it used to be with the term “casual fine dining” now widely accepted. Fine dining is on a journey, ever-evolving. It’s really about passion and service, though. Fast food is great, but it doesn’t provide the highest quality of service and food knowledge. In the fine dining industry, we commit ourselves everyday to the pursuit of perfection and knowledge: skills, craft, sharing, creating memories. This is in order to offer rewarding experiences for customers and being able to address each diner’s specific needs, however challenging. It’s about the ingredients and the produce, and seamless service—always with a smile! It’s about creativity and passion, working together as a team to deliver special and unique experiences that the customer will cherish forever. It’s not always a matter of price, as you can eat very good food in fine dining establishments for a reasonable cost. And, really, if it’s an enjoyable meal and a happy memory for life, then surely it’s worth the price. 22 | OCTOBER 2018

what’s happening to fine dining in Asia because it’s really booming at the moment, and living in Bangkok, there is so much opportunity to sample wonderful cuisines and wonderful restaurants. Also, my work presents a lot of opportunity to try and experience different places. Looking at Bangkok, the level is growing consistently, and I enjoy what local and Thai chefs are doing to put Thai ingredients and these flavours in the right way, showcasing their techniques and their products to the world. I think both the Michelin Guide and Asia’s 50 Best are working in this direction, helping to push the boundaries and promote a new generation of chefs. The future is exciting, there are new hotels and restaurants opening, so let’s wait and see what happens. I come from Rome, and I grew up with more casual eateries. These are the places I love to visit when I’m travelling in Europe, but even here, eating in a fine dining atmosphere, I find enjoyment and many meals that take me back and invoke memories of my family and my childhood. Ultimately, for me, I look for enjoyment; not always fancy fine dining, just tasty food.

best of bkk | CITY PULSE

ASHLEY NIEDRINGHAUS Freelance Journalist & Author

I think in the over-saturated world of Instagram and foodie awards, it’s easy to lose track of the goal of fine dining: a truly memorable meal. Prestigious awards like World’s 50 Best and Michelin stars are great signposts to introducing global gourmands to envelope-pushing, perfection-seeking, creative chefs who serve great meals but I don’t like to get caught up in letting them inform my travels and my thoughts. For me, fine dining isn’t about the price tag—although, that is a certain ear-marker—as much as it is about a feeling. I’ve had the most incredible meals at more low-key places that are free of dress codes and awards. It’s a great pasta bar on the Upper East Side in New York City where the waiter was thoughtful with their suggestions; or the sommelier in Queenstown, New Zealand, who recommended a bottle of wine that, years later, still stands as one of the best I’ve ever had. It’s those special experiences. So for me, it’s not about what season Noma is in or who the new king of Tokyo’s sushi scene will be—but, if you ask, I say Rei Masuda—but about enjoying a meal for what it is: premium ingredients, outstanding service and attention to detail. And if it happens to be pretty enough to ‘Gram’, well that doesn’t hurt either.

KITTIDECH “ITAN” VIMOLRATANA Bangkok Eating Specialist & Food Instagrammer

Actually, for me, fine dining is not only an expensive “restaurant serving fancy food with fancy decoration, in a stuffy atmosphere, but it can be cheap food in a cheap restaurant; as long as every detail is on point. Of course, the ingredients are of great importance and perhaps the most important thing of all is the overall taste. As long as the ingredients are good and the food is delicious, then that’s my kind of dining experience. In Bangkok, we’ve never really had many choices of fine dining in the past. Not many fancy restaurant survived because of our culture. Thai people grow up with many dishes in one meal. We eat rice with three to five different kinds of food at the same time. We grow up with special types of restaurants, where we can customise our order. If you opened an omakase restaurant ten years ago, you wouldn’t have survived. Nowadays, we are more open, less conservative. We are okay with restaurants that serve only sushi, ramen, burgers, lobsters, even tofu only. The food and restaurant scene has changed with the help of 50 Best and Michelin. Fine dining still survives, and we have become a dining destination for people with more than 30,000 tourists a year flying to visit Gaggan.

OCTOBER 2018 | 23

CITY PULSE | best of bkk

Have We Had Our Fill of Fussy Fine Dining Is there still a place for stuffy dining rooms, white tablecloths and over-the-top service? With fine dining under threat from the casual revolution, we examine the current dining climate in Bangkok and find out whether there’s a future for fine dining. Words by David J. Constable


here’s no escaping the fact that modern fine dining has undergone a significant shift. Not only in Bangkok but globally, with restaurants offering a more casual, less-restricting dining experience to customers. Once the bastion of high society and the pinnacle of the culinary world, fine dining has seemingly been eclipsed by meals offering a more authentic experience: think tables loaded with plates, laughing, jovial customers; or a small seater street food restaurant turning out award-winning crab omelettes. We are surrounded by good food, accessible at different levels, so much so that we don’t need to seek out highfalutin, shiny-starred restaurants anymore, especially when it’s difficult to justify paying thousands of Baht per meal. Opinions remain mixed, and while I firmly believe that there will always be a place for fine dining in society circles— birthdays, anniversaries, expense business lunches—I think it’s evident that the modern diner is exposed to so much more nowadays and they are, therefore, looking for diversity and new experiences. Ever hungry, ever demanding. While there is still a place for the big, heavy-hitting Michelin restaurants, a new, successful brigade of restaurants are placing more of an emphasis on people having fun. Indeed, how the modern diner approaches and thinks of food has changed too. Compare the restaurants of today to those of ten, twenty, fifty years ago; with designated sommeliers, waiters cleaning your tablecloth with those little silver combs and desserts presented on roving carts.

24 | OCTOBER 2018

best of bkk | CITY PULSE

Food now is fetishised not as nourishment, but as a kind of aesthetic triumph, thanks in part to social media and the abundance of food TV shows and documentaries. In turn, this has opened the culinary world to the consumer, who today, seeks out stories, Instagramable dishes and value for money over chandelier dining rooms and ironed white tablecloths. According to research, 70 per cent of diners have turned against the formal French style of service, and towards the clatter and ease of multiple plates on the table—a very Thai-style of eating. Fewer than 20 per cent are interested in fine dining. As a recent article in The Atlantic stated, “The pageantry of the restaurant experience has shifted from a spectacle of service to a spectacle of soulfulness.” Chefs such as Gaggan Anand (Gaggan), Thitid ‘Ton’ Tassanakajohn (LeDu), Tim Butler (Eat Me), Fatih Tutak (The House on Sathorn) and Duangporn ‘Bo’ Songvisava and Dylan Jones (Bo.Ian), to name only a few in the city, all exercise a more casual operation; others, like Jay Fai, offer something even below casual.

OCTOBER 2018 | 25

CITY PULSE | best of bkk

The focus for these chefs is less about the wallpaper and starched serviettes, with everything geared towards the food on the plate and the fun, casual customer experience. Moving away from stuffy service and waiters in bowties, you’re far more likely to find uni ice cream and a glass of biodynamic wine, served to you as a Kiss track blast from the speakers, than the outmoded and antiquated French classics. It’s about time, too. Bangkok’s restaurant revolution was a rather slow maturation compared to much of the world and took a new direction with the launch of the Michelin Guide last year. This has, unquestionably, opened up the city, adding another arbitrary list to the mix which, supposedly, draws a line upon which people can measure quality. Are all of the named Bangkok restaurants listed in the Michelin Guide, fine dining? No, of course not. That’s not what restaurants or fine dining in 2018 means—although, I’d be hardpushed to find a straightforward definition. Likewise, Michelin must remain relevant, so they address street food institutions and hole-in-the-wall establishments like Jay Fai. They have previous, self-serving marketing stratagems too, awarding the likes of Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle in Singapore and Tim Ho Wan in Hong Kong. Are these fine dining institutions? Are they heck.

26 | OCTOBER 2018

best of bkk | CITY PULSE

So, what is fine dining today and does it have a future? The answer to that question will differ depending on whom you ask, but what is certain is that the idea and appreciation of food and the surroundings in which it’s served, and the approach of modern-day chefs and restaurateurs, have moved on significantly; just as the expectations of the customer has. The presumption that it’s going anywhere, anytime soon, is misplaced. Fine dining remains a celebratory, often heavy-on-the-wallet, experience; but it must compete with newer, glossier, more innovative offerings in order to survive. Above all, eating out is about having fun; otherwise we’d all be staying indoors. The tradition of predominantly French-led fine dining, with its snooty service, staff hovering over your shoulder and those ridiculous leather-bound tombs they call wine lists, look dated compared with the excitement and the emotion of a shared dining experience, the likes of which you find throughout Scandinavia, Latin America and even pockets of Southeast Asia. I’m not putting French food down, they invented, and promoted it for a century, the very concept of fine dining—haute cuisine. Moreover, they created the restaurant too, a place to be fraternal and egalitarian. French food is one the most magnificent

ornaments of civilisation, but as the diner has evolved, so must the chefs and the restaurants and most importantly of all, the food served. As fine dining grew successful, it became fashionable. More and more chefs emerged, meaning more and more restaurants emerged. Along with ballet, the opera or a night at the movies, taking your loved one to a posh restaurant became the norm. Valentine’s Day? A restaurant. Mother’s Day? A restaurant? Wedding anniversary? A restaurant. Somewhere public where you can break-up without making a scene? A restaurant. I enjoy a steaming bowl of tom kha kai just as much as I enjoy dressing up and heading to a swanky hotel restaurant for a three-hour long meal. For me, it’s about the company, the mood I’m in and what sort of cuisine I can’t do without on that particular day of the week. When the food, the service and the ambience—be it in a restaurant, at a bar, seated at a kitchen counter or on a plastic stool in the middle of the pavement—is good, I wallow in it. An accidental noodle find in a backstreet of Chinatown is just as thrilling to me as the unapologetic theatrically-led tasting menus of expensive, fine dining establishments; neither defines me. Food is food, and the real pleasure is that we live in a city with ample choice.

Bangkok’s restaurant revolution was a rather slow maturation compared to much of the world and took a new direction with the launch of the Michelin Guide.

Above all, eating out is about having fun; otherwise we’d all be staying indoors.

OCTOBER 2018 | 27

Four Hands Epicurean Journey A recurring series of guest chef collaborations with Chef Hans Zahner of Tables Grill, showcasing the journey of a key ingredient within an exclusive tasting menu. EPISODE ONE: YUZU Tables Grill at Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok, in collaboration with San Pellegrino and Fine Dining Lovers, launches its first ‘Four Hands Epicurean Journey’ on November 3rd and 4th 2018, a recurring series of guest chef collaborations with Chef Hans Zahner of Tables Grill, showcasing the journey of a critical ingredient within an exclusive tasting menu. In the first episode of the ‘Four Hands Epicurean Journey’ at Tables Grill, the Michelin-starred duo of Chef Hideaki Imahashi and Patissier Shoko Hirase from L’aube Restaurant in Tokyo, join Chef Hans to embark on an exclusive culinary journey, paying particular focus on the unique connection between French and Japanese cuisine. Focused on a single element from the humble roots of Chef Hideaki, this exquisite six-course collaborative dinner will centre around the Japanese citrus fruit, yuzu. For two days, Chef Hans will host an exclusive experience in collaboration with Chef Hideaki Imahashi and Patissier Shoko Hirase with the vital ingredient of yuzu, a citrus fruit known for its characteristically strong aroma. The oil from its skin is commercially marketed as a fragrance, and it is popular in many types of cuisine, uniquely Japanese. Fine Dining Lovers by S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna collaborates with Tables Grill to launch this special ‘Four Hands Epicurean Journey’. The six-course menu, paired with world-class wine, is priced at THB 5,900++ with 15% discount for Club at The Hyatt members, Citibank Ultima and SCB Private Banking. Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok 494 Rajdamri Rd., Bangkok 10330 Sunday Champagne Brunch: 11am-3pm Dinner: Monday to Sunday 6pm-10p Private Events: Available from 8am-10pm

For reservations, please contact +66 2 254 6250 or email Guests who would like to get an update on the next ‘Four Hands Epicurean Journey’ episode can visit

The Fine Dining Lovers Guest Chef Series is an original initiative by fine dining waters S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna that began in 2011, as part of their ongoing effort to bridge the best of the best in the culinary world. Aligned with their goal of encouraging culinary exchanges and the fine enjoyment of water, wine another gastronomy, the series combines renowned chefs from top dining destinations around Asia to bring top-notched epicurean experiences to diners. It is promoted through, the eponymous global platform dedicated to exploring the finest taste and culinary culture from around the world by S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna.

CITY PULSE | best of bkk

FINE DINING: HISTORY & FUTURE By a former Michelin Guide Inspector


ve had my share of fine dining meals. That was the job. Eat and report back, meal after meal, restaurant after restaurant. In almost all cases, these meals were in so-called fine dining restaurants, but I notificed the change, a shift in the kitchen, chef philosphy and culinary output, and Michelin had to react. The Michelin Guide was first launched in the early 1900s as an aid to drivers in France, listing mechanics and locations where meals could be found. The star rating system was first introduced in 1926 for one-star restaurants, and the two and three-star ratings were added a few years later. Commonly referred to as the “red book”, the Guide is acknowledged across the globe as the bible of gastronomy, discreet, professional and respected by chefs; despite many guides competing for space. It remains a reserved organisation, the culture best indicated in its hugely understated descriptions of what constitutes a star-rated restaurant. Unchanged in almost 90 years, one star signifies ‘a very good restaurant’, two stars are ‘excellent cooking that is worth a detour’ and three stars mean ‘exceptional cuisine that is worth a special journey’. Up until the dawn of the new Millennium, the Michelin Guide sought out and awarded stars almost exclusively to fine dining restaurants, but even towards the end of my tenure as an inspecator, I could see the change coming. These starred temples of gastronomy oozed opulence from within an almost reverential ambience, staffed with a hierarchical structure of battalions of immaculately uniformed chefs and servers and

30 | OCTOBER 2018

demanded an equally huge price tag. There was even a strict dinner dress code. The menu was classic Escoffier offering extensive listings of dishes with book-length descriptions. Prestige ingredients such as caviar, foie gras, lobster and prime cuts of meat featured in every section. Sauces necessitated generous dollops of both butter and cream. Dishes were conceived to deliver maximum cholesterol in every mouthful. Wine lists were tomes which required not only physical assistance to browse through and several hours to read but also a Swiss bank account to afford to indulge. The kitchens were helmed by chefs who over time became culinary godfathers, and from their ranks, two greats emerged, Paul Bocuse and Joël Robuchon. We recently lost both; sadly, the end of an era as age snatched them from us, all too soon. France was the bastion of this ilk—and was, along with the UK, where I conducted much of my dining responsibilities—and as stylish restaurants opened beyond Europe, the Guide extended its reach to Asia and beyond. However, this Rolls Royce-level fine dining never caught on; perhaps due to a shortage of the historic architecture which housed these palaces or just more simply, the realm of ultra-deluxe fine dining was already in decline. Chefs began to explore the established culinary boundaries, firstly with nouvelle cuisine, then molecular gastronomy and the self-titled ‘deconstructivist’ Ferran Adria, and then René Redzepi arrived with Nordic cuisine. It was a new global food, moving at pace. Even three-starred restaurants recognised that the culinary landscape was shifting more towards opening

best of bkk | CITY PULSE

simple bistros to support their signature establishments. The emergence of the Millennial generation’s demand for experiences necessitated a move away from these hushed, hallowed environments to a more casual and fun atmosphere. The most significant step change has however been in the cooking itself. The younger generation is known for their social conscience, and we are all keenly aware of the benefits of healthy eating. Foie gras and sharks fin are no longer served in many restaurants. This was best evidenced by the rise in vegetarianism. One Paris restaurant achieved three stars with a repertoire of only vegetables. This has evolved even further, where diners now inquire as to the provenance of the products they are consuming. They desire sustainable fish and organic vegetables. Restaurants strive for zero waste in consideration of their carbon footprint. Farm to table is now an accepted tenet. Thailand is at the forefront of this with a multitude of pioneering restaurants encompassing many leadingedge philosophies; urban farm, nose to tail, organic food and wine, and even one restaurant that has its own farm. The Guide has adapted to these changes by no longer insisting on chandeliers and candelabra as the gatekeepers to awarding accolades. Today, there is a quaint English pub in the Cotswold countryside, serving up smoked haddock omelette and steak and chips which has recently been awarded two Michelin stars. The cooking is described as ‘brilliant ingredients, cooked simply to let the flavours shine.’ Is this the new fine dining? In essence, fine dining has changed. Restaurants have become less stuffy, more accessible, dishes have become more straightforward, but interestingly, our expectations of what we receive on the plate have risen exponentially. But what has become of the old traditions? Well, just as in music, there will always be an occasion when we want to listen to The Eagles. Currently, in France alone, there are nearly 30 three star havens many of which are still proudly serving up Hotel California. That’s timeless fine dining!

OCTOBER 2018 | 31

CITY PULSE | best of bkk

Turning Up the Heat on No-Show Diners

In a competitive climate, restaurants are vying for your custom, but that doesn’t mean diners should take advantage. With some restaurants starting to ask for deposits up front, others are naming and shaming no-shows in a fight to beat empty tables and keep business afloat. Words by David J. Constable

32 | OCTOBER 2018

best of bkk | CITY PULSE


ompared with many of the world’s leading and most celebrated fine dining restaurant cities, Bangkok offers a seemingly cheap and affordable offering. Tasting menus here range from B2,000 to B5,000, on average, and you can dine in a multitude of places for much less, sampling food in restaurants that have a Michelin star and/or appear on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list. The affordable culinary offering of Bangkok has made it a food tourism destination, with global gourmets planning trips around a carefully crafted food itinerary. Equally, the adventurousness of the Bangkok palate, following years of low-wages and diets of Thai street food, not to mention a lack of cosmopolitan foreign dining options, has seen the city blossom, opening diner’s eyes to the wonders of myriad flavours beyond som tam and tom yum. All of this is excellent news for local chefs and restauranteurs, you’d think, however, this is a competitive city with tens of thousands of restaurants, from street-level to a multitude of high-rise dining on the rooftops of hotels. The dining options here are seemingly endless, but for every new restaurant opening, a wealth face declining fortunes. Don’t be mislead by the glossy food guides and over-zealous PR agencies; restaurants here are feeling the pinch. From independent operations to major chains, all are fighting for customers. What doesn’t help the cause, are no-shows. Several high-profile independent chefs and restauranterus reveal that they regularly lose hundreds of thousands of Baht simply because of no-shows: some, including LeDu in the Sathorn area, named and shamed them on social media. Head chef and co-owner of LeDu, Thitid ‘Ton’ Tassanakajohn, took to Facebook to vent his frustration recently when a booking of ten people failed to show for dinner. “This is not just a restaurant, but a business and people’s livelihoods,” he said. “People might assume the restaurants make a lot of money, but they don’t realise how the impact of noshows can damage our business. One customer can mean the difference between an extra penny, breaking even, or going bust! Hotels and airlines charge in advance, but no one complains about that.” There are a few well-documented problems with the independent restaurant model. Rents, rates and unfavourable economic conditions; VAT, the increasing cost of ingredients, staff wages, wine import costs—it was new fire escape laws that were behind the 2017 closure of Crying Thaiger. Moreover, while chefs may not enter the profession soley to make money—and small, independent

restaurants, in particular, are not what you’d describe as profit machines—adding no-shows to an already long list of business challenges is becoming a serious and damaging issue. The issue of no-shows is not helped by the relatively affordable, so-called fine dining options in Bangkok. I know of fellow foodies who will phone around their choice of potential Friday night dining options, making bookings in each in order to secure a reservation, and then on the day of the meal, decide where they’ll eat depending on the mood they’re in; not bothering to cancel the other reservations. Likewise, the issue is being fuelled by online booking services, which allow diners to book a table from their phone with a click. Some online booking sites said they had tried to tackle the problem. OpenTable—one of the earliest and most successful such booking engines, launched in San Francisco 20 years ago—said it prohibited users from making more than one booking in the same time slot and that diners who didn’t show up for a reservation four times over 12 months were blocked. It said that the no-show rate was about 4.5 per cent, less than the 5.4 per cent for diners who book traditionally by phone. As long as booking apps continue to promote discounts and dining incentives, customers will continue to relinquish the telephone and move across to app and mobile bookings. Pongcharn ‘Top’ Russell, head chef at Freebird in Sukhumvit, also has concerns over no-shows and was one of many who left comments on Chef Ton’s Facebook page, writing, “If you’re a big party you shouldn’t be offended when a restaurant ask that you commit so they can secure your table. Giving credit card details and helping the restaurant

recuperate some of the lost revenue is not exactly stealing. Small independent restaurants don’t have that many legs to stand on.” For a string of restaurants in the mid-market, where private equity has fuelled expansion, no-shows present a head-scratching problem. While, financially, many of these restaurants can afford empty tables, OCTOBER 2018 | 33

CITY PULSE | best of bkk

supplementing income by filling tables at their other outlets, they are still only given a relatively small timeframe to perform. There is little time for error or experimentation in this business, and some—like Little Beast—have been forced to close sites. Riley Sanders is head chef at Canvas. For him, it’s not unusual to have 12 confirmed bookings and only nine turn up. “The strange part is there is a ton of variation between days of the week, times of the month, specific months, or times of the year,” says Chef Riley. “I’m always looking at this stuff to find patterns, but it’s still quite a challenge consistently predicting how many guests to expect on any given day. Noshows are a part of it, but I think just a smaller one for us.” According to the Restaurant Business Trade Association (RBTA), 2,300 small restaurants nationwide were forced to close last year, many of which were heavily impacted by no-shows and lost income. Further studies by RBTA suggest that there are, at current, around 200,000 restaurants operating in Thailand, although with the seesaw of new openings and closings, this is undoubtedly a guesstimate. “The competition in Thailand’s restaurant business is intensifying every year thanks to new foreign brands that continue to set up chains while existing brands keep expanding,” says RBTA president Ladda Sampawthong. One manager at Dean & Deluca Bangkok—who currently have 11 outlets in Thailand—said the chain’s steady flow of customers means that they can make up for no-shows, but states that lost bookings only pile on the pressure in an already tough industry. “We have a pretty quick turnaround and offer customers both quick and long-term dining options, plus most of out customers are walk-ins. Even so, we receive large bookings, particularly over the weekends, and certainly do experience no-shows and therefore, empty tables.” Samantha Proyrungtong, who works in F&B Marketing and Publicity, says that the

problem of no-shows, and the effect they have on the business, is something she regularly discusses with chefs. “Bangkokians have been spoilt for choice for many years and the business of restaurants here is so competitive that people are willing to take large orders on any given day. Then, of course, if they don’t show, there’s the challenge of filling those empty seats. Chefs are, rightly so, getting fed up. It’s time for them to act.” To combat no-shows, it will take more than chefs taking to social media to vent their anger. Some restaurants have long taken deposits for special occasions such as Valentine’s Day or bookings for groups, while others businesses maintain a database of no-shows. Bangkok should take note, this is a practice that across Europe and North America has already become commonplace. When purchasing concert or sporting event tickets, the customer is expected to pay upfront, the same when buying cinema tickets over the internet, so why not restaurants? The alternative, as has been long-practised in many places already, is a policy of no bookings, relying on walk-up trade to turn tables quickly. A no-booking policy is not always effective, but then, what guarantee is there that when someone makes a reservation they will turn up? Ultimately, the decision is down to the restaurant, but either way, it’s a gamble. “You are beginning to see more pre-booking systems, such as Chope, being implemented,” says Samantha. “The industry is still relatively small, so as long as a booking is traceable they can be held accountable. Using a speciality designed restaurant booking system to guarantee bookings and hold either upfront payments of deposits, I believe, is highly advisable.” One restaurant who has been requesting deposits upon making bookings for sometime now, is Bo.Ian. “We require a credit card guarantee and if they no-show or cancel, then we charge 2,000 Baht,” says Dylan Jones of Bo.Ian. “In general, if someone cancels and we are able to fill the booking from our waitlist, then we won’t charge, but if we can’t fill and

“This is not just a restaurant, but a business and people’s livelihoods... a customer can mean the extra difference between an extra penny, breaking even, or going bust!”

34 | OCTOBER 2018

best of bkk | CITY PULSE

we loose revenue, then we will.” This isn’t drastic or unusual behaviour. This is a business, and a stance many more restaurants should be taking. If you cancel a flight or hotel booking—or don’t even cancel, but are a no-show—you still pay, one way or another. “Since adopting this policy,” Jones continues, “We’ve had a 95 per cent reduction in no-shows and 99 per cent of cancellations have been with 24 hours.” This upturn in business management means the restaurant can profit and continue with the business without worry or concern over a potential lose of profits. The reality is, that no-shows make up around 10 per cent, sometimes even 20 per cent of bookings each night, and while there’s no security for restaurants, there are a number of protectional measures they can take to limit the number: drop prices during off-peak times, promote to online customers, research and use booking engines, but no-shows can never been fully combated or prevented; rude and inconsiderate behaviour will continue to exist, but as diners, let us all consider just a little bit more, the overall workload and passion that goes into creating a menu, operating a restaurant and running a business. We are all in this together: chef-customer, customer-chef; and remember that actions can damage a business. We want our best chefs and our best restaurants to remain for our pleasure. Support them.

OCTOBER 2018 | 35

SNAPSHOTS | now new next

Zaiyu Hasegawa A young Japanese chef blends tradition and innovation and brings smiles to diners’ faces and joy to their hearts.


n the regimented world of Japanese high culture, every single move is ritualised. The contrasts of digital lifestyle and technology and the rarefied air of hush-hush tatami rooms still fascinate visitors and locals alike. Zaiyu Hasegawa, the gregarious chef-patron of Den restaurant, has bridged the best of both realms into one. Currently, Zaiyu’s Den is No. 2 on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list, and crowned the Best Restaurant in Japan.

36 | OCTOBER 2018

Born and bred in Shinjuku, Tokyo, Zaiyu recalls, “My mother was a geisha. She worked at Uotoku Kagurazaka, a ryōtei (high-end restaurant), and often brought home some leftovers in a bento box. She’s also a good cook and taught me. So I thought it was cool to be a chef. When I was 18, I learned to how to cook traditional kaiseki at this restaurant.” Originated in Kyoto, classical kaiseki represents Japanese multicourse haute cuisine that varies

from ornate styles of the court and the samurai to restrained ways of the temple and the tea ceremony. This intricate culinary culture is an aesthetic form of edible art that balances flavours, textures, colours, seasons, presentations, and vessels of food. In the modern world, most find it distant and structured. On kaiseki, Zaiyu says, “I like the seasonality of kaiseki courses because there are varieties of tastes, textures, and methods—sour, salty, soup, simmering, steaming, grilling, and rice dishes, which arrives at the end with some side dishes.” In 2007, Zaiyu at only 29, opened Den in Jimbocho district where he gave a creative spin to the classics focussing on tastes as much as joy. On the concept of Den, he explains, “It’s kaiseki that you would enjoy eating. I started Den because where I worked was very traditional. Younger generations don’t go to these places anymore. It’s like going to operas; they don’t understand it. More foreigners visit Japan, and I want something new and easy for them and the younger crowd. I love and understand traditional techniques and hope that others will understand kaiseki too.” However, the path to glory doesn’t run smoothly, Zaiyu reminisces, “When I opened the restaurant ten years ago, it was tough. There weren’t many people there in the beginning. Some days no one would come. No one knew about me, and I didn’t even know what to serve. I had many memories of the hardship and learned my lessons. But after that,

now new next | SNAPSHOTS

customers gradually came and returned. I was happy about it. I try to keep the momentum alive.” Three years later Den received its first Michelin star and the second one in 2013 which was eventually docked and reinstated in 2018. In 2016 Den was relocated in Jingumae area at a larger premise, where it deservedly earned the Art of Hospitality Award for Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017. This reflects the traditional Japanese philosophy of wholehearted hospitality, omotenashi. Den

NOW NEW NEXT Join Bangkok-born but internationally bred aesthete Dr. Tom Vitayakul as he meets with creative minds and artistic souls from both Thailand and overseas. From traditional, to contemporary and avant-garde, he finds out about the visions, inspirations, and creations of these talented individuals.

embraces this idea and makes diners feel like a part of a family. Embodied in selflessness, modesty, and humility, kaiseki practitioners have a deep admiration of the seasons and warm thoughtfulness towards customers. The central principle is to convey respect and making guests feel special and at ease. This means chefs strive for excellence in every detail. Zaiyu’s playfulness and unique hospitality style make dining at Den relaxing and memorable. He enthuses, “I want it to be fun and happy, with a sense of humour. It’s because these kaiseki restaurants are silent, too serious and formal. No one talks. I want people to relax. They can use either chopsticks or their hands to eat. Forget the rules and etiquette. Just relax, enjoy, and lick your fingers. When you’re happy, you enjoy eating better. What I want customers to remember is that they had a great time at Den whether the food is yummy or not.” He continues, “This is like cooking for a family. My team and my customers are my family. In the past ten years, what I’m most proud of is seeing my customers through their life stages. They got married, have children, and come back with their kids. It’s heart-warming to see that. I enjoy

working with my team. They make it fun to work. We all come up with new dishes, and I get inspirations from everyone every day, like customers from abroad or a German intern who cooks a stock based on his country’s ingredients. It’s a privilege to meet new people.” On favourite things, he muses, “My favourite season is autumn. I like picking mushrooms from Mount Fuji and enjoy the change of foliage. The ingredients are so flavoursome, like fatty sanma (Pacific saury or mackerel pike) cooked with rice. I seasonally select produces and pick vegetables from my sister’s farm. I have friends who are ceramicists and textiles artists from different regions. Their nice works are inside Den. My hobby is fishing in Tokyo Bay after work every day. Sometimes I catch some sea bass.” Zaiyu humbly concludes, “I love and have great respect for tradition because, without it, you cannot have innovation. I learned everything from Chef Nobu Hagiwara whom I deeply respect. He passed away, and I want to do something to honour him. I want to educate people about kaiseki in both traditional and modern interpretations. I dream of bringing diners to the next level.” OCTOBER 2018 | 37

SNAPSHOTS | joe's bangkok

A Day at the Stadium The highs and the lows of the Thai Premier League.


he Port Authority of Thailand (PAT) Stadium is only a 12-minute walk from the Bangkok Post building, where I worked for nearly four years. I was never even aware of its existence until last year when my guitar-playing pal Tommie Duncan invited me to come to watch a Thai football game with him. PAT Stadium is home turf for Port FC, one of Thai football’s longest-established clubs and one of the best-supported clubs in Bangkok, drawing much of its fan

38 | OCTOBER 2018

base from the densely-populated working-class Khlong Toey district. When I finally make plans to attend the September 9th match between Port FC and Chainat Hornbill (not Hornbills), I take Tommie’s suggestion to learn more about the Thai Premier League beforehand by logging on to The Sandpit, an extremely informative website run by expat football fan Tim Russell. It turns out football has been played in Thailand for a very long time, having been introduced to

the country in 1897 following King Chulalongkorn’s famed trip to Europe. King Vajiravudh founded the Football Association of Thailand in 1916, and a Thai team has participated in the Olympic Games since 1956. A few days before the match I meet up with Tim for beers, and he patiently explains the administrative structure of Thai professional football and shares his passion for Port FC. “Among followers of Thai football, Port fans have a reputation because a lot of them come from the Klong Toey slums,” says Tim. “The assumption is they’re rougher and more aggressive. “But for the past two or three years Port has been on a charm offensive, and if you talk to other clubs now, they’ll say they like playing here, that they feel welcome. The atmosphere is enthusiastically rowdy but friendly.” Two years ago, Tim launched The Sandpit—named for a sandfloored petanque in front of the stadium where fans gather before each home game—with the help of Tom Earls, who has played and watched Thai football for over 18 years. Tom puts together the site’s player bios, stats and team rankings. A team of 15 or 20 other writers contribute articles analysing matches, interviewing players and commenting candidly on coaching and ownership. Asked how Thai football as a whole has changed in recent times, Tim notes how the quality of play has improved, especially among a newer generation of Thai players. “There are now three or four top Thai footballers playing in Europe leagues,” he says. “And

joe's bangkok | SNAPSHOTS

Port FC has started its football academy to better train, local footballers.” Meanwhile, many imported foreign players can be found in Thai clubs, including Port FC, which boasts two members from Spain and one each from Montenegro and Korea. Tim tells me the Thai Premier League is the most professional and best paid—top players can earn up to a million baht a month—in Southeast Asia, so clubs have no problem attracting talent.

Joe’s Bangkok Award-winning writer Joe Cummings was born in New Orleans but became one of Lonely Planet’s first guidebook authors, creating the seminal Lonely Planet Thailand guide, as well as several other titles and updates for the region. Each month, he picks out his favourite cultural gems throughout Bangkok.

When I turn up for the Port-Chainat match on Sunday, Tommie meets me at the stadium gates and guides me through an army of vendors hawking noodles, rice plates, barbecued skewers and other choices he says are unrivalled at any other stadium in Thailand regarding quality and variety. Tommie’s Thai wife originally got him into local football four years ago, and now he attends virtually every home match on season passes, often on his own. He offers insight on Port’s lauded foreign players, who include Dragan Boskovic a Montenegrin striker who scored an impressive 38 goals in 33 games in 2017, and Spanish team captain David Rochela considered one of the best defenders in Thai football. Tommie mentions how he came across Boskovic at a local coffee shop near his home. “The first time I saw him, he was reading a Dostoevsky novel, and the next time it was a book on central banking. We talked a bit, and he seems like a nice, thoughtful guy.” I buy a ticket for 150 baht and follow Tommie to Zone A, the only roofed section of the stands. Hardcore fans sit behind the home goal in Zone B or D, while the

most vocal home fans crowd into unsheltered Zone C, for which tickets cost 100 baht. From high up in Zone A the view is spectacular. The strikingly green pitch in the foreground and grey tiered stands opposite are topped by a row of iconic Bangkok skyscrapers with windows twinkling in the setting sun. Above the skyline clouds slowly darken as dusk approaches. The atmosphere is charged but friendly, and unlike the male-dominated football audiences of Europe, the local audience of around 7,000—Tim’s estimate—includes plenty of families and small groups of women fans. The match itself turns out to be a bit of a snoozer, sad to say, ending in a 1-1 draw. As a result, Port drops from third to fourth in the premier league rankings. The following day The Sandpit match review doesn’t mince words. “Our team shape is a mess once substitutions are made, and it’s clear that the communication from the bench to the pitch is not working and several players are having to suss out what to do with varying degrees of success.” As for me, it was an educational and inspiring evening out. I’ll be back, maybe next time wearing a blue-and-orange Port fan jersey. OCTOBER 2018 | 39

SNAPSHOTS | heritage

JJ Mall: Shopping Nostalgia for the 60s, 70s and 80s If you would like to discover how daily life in Bangkok used to be from the 1960s to the late 1980s, head to JJ Mall. The not-so-attractive shopping mall is a heaven to discover and buy treasures from past decades.


nyone in Bangkok, Thais and visitors alike, have heard about Chatuchak market, considered to be the largest flea market in the world. During the weekend the market is filled with thousands of shoppers looking for the best bargains. However, if you feel tired of sharing your best addresses at the market with thousands of others, cross Kamphaeng Phet Road and make a trip to the past. There is something unique about Thai people. In contrary to 40 | OCTOBER 2018

some other cultures in Southeast Asia, Thais seem to enjoy keeping all the objects of their daily life forever. Shops and even homes of people are often filled with thousands of more or less useful objects. Are Thai people turning sentimental or nostalgic of a time long-gone? This is possible. However, for amateurs of flea markets, Bangkok is equivalent to an Ali Baba cave. Flea markets are multiplying around town. While the Rotfai Night Market has long been

considered as the right place to shop for vintage items and antiques, its relocation at Sri Nakharin Road makes it today less accessible for foreign visitors. Thanks to the proximity of the BTS and MRT, JJ Mall is turning now into a significant place to look for anyone searching after the perfect antiques. From an architecture point of view, JJ Mall is far from something to marvel at. For a long time, the structure stood abandoned facing the JJ Market. Work has

heritage | SNAPSHOTS

been conducted to upgrade and renovate the area. Still, while it doesn't look so nice from the outside, do not get fooled by the first look. JJ Mall is a paradise for shoppers looking to discover the objects of Bangkokians’ daily life,


Bangkok Paris native, Luc Citrinot, has lived in Southeast Asia for the past 12 years. A seasoned traveller, he writes about tourism, culture and architecture. He was instrumental on a recent EU-endorsed project to establish the European Heritage Map of Bangkok and subsequent app covering all of Thailand. He still travels extensively in Southeast Asia, looking particularity for new architectural gems related to colonial and European history.

mostly from the late sixties to the early nineties. The mall has four levels of shopping zones integrating hundreds of shops. The inside has been rebranded into ‘Chatuchak Flea Market Playground’. Moreover, during the weekend, the first-level pavement is also filled with last minute sellers. It looks like a giant museum of what could be ‘Swinging Bangkok’. Objects on sale include anything possible remembering the 60s, 70s and 80s. Stroll around, and you can find old records and magazines, toys, furniture, advertising signage, school books, bags, lamps and even clothing and shoes. This is a place where the most exquisite paintings are facing hideous sculptures next to broken transistors, jugs or typewriters with missing keys! One of the cheapest collectable vintage object: former

school posters feel genuinely ingrained in ‘Thainess’ values through good manners, history, costumes and customs. Posters are sold from just THB50, and bargaining is of course possible. Inside the mall, shops are more sophisticated. The ground floor is dedicated to furniture with many vintage pieces dating back to the seventies, including rare sofas and chairs. There are also cabinets, tables and dressers. Some designers also create tailormade furniture inspired by the sixties and seventies. The second floor is dedicated to accessories with a couple of shops selling vintage lighting, while the third floor has a range of shops selling old toys including rare models of cars and soldiers. Vintage treasures are in trend in Bangkok, and Chatuchak Playground Flea Market is undoubtedly one of the best places in town to enjoy the revival style.

Information: Chatuchak Playground Flea Market is open every day except Monday and Thursday. The mall has extensive opening hours from 11 am to 9 pm on Tuesday and Wednesday and from 11am to 10pm from Friday to Sunday. The closest MRT station is Kamphaeng Phet. OCTOBER 2018 | 41

Thai Invasion: Chef Ton and Jay Fai navigating the streets of Copenhagen


e have a departure this month from the usual Thai-focussed travel features, and head over to Copenhagen, Denmark with Bangkok’s best-known street-food chef Jay Fai for the annual MAD Symposium, luminary chef René Redzepi’s global gastro-gathering held in a giant red circus tent! In what was a rare, first-time international cooking appearance for Jay Fai and members of the Gastronauts Asia team—with support from Singha, Thai Airways and the Royal Thai Embassy Copenhagen—Jay Fai opened the MAD Symposium with a cooking demonstration of her iconic crab omelette, later consumed backstage by fellow chefs. With Chef Thitid ‘Ton’ Tassanakajohn of LeDu restaurant in Bangkok accompanying Jay Fai, standing in as a translator, she wowed the crowd and had them in fits of laughter throughout the opening presentation. Post-demonstration, Jay Fai and team dinned at the famed NOMA restaurant and the three Michelin-starred Geranium; ate hotdogs and drank Danish craft beer; and were invited to the Royal Thai Embassy Copenhagen for dinner where Jay Fai, once again, gave a cooking demonstration of her crab omelette. Read all about the Copenhagen adventure and see photographs from the MAD Symposium and Danish tour on pages 44-51. We stay a little closer to home for our second travel feature this month, switching between Cambodia and Vietnam as celebrity chef and TV personality Bobby Chinn tells us about his “romantic mission” with his girlfriend. Keen to return to Southeast Asia, Bobby decided to show Cambodia and Vietnam to his girlfriend but to do it in true luxe style. Staying at the Amansara Resort (Cambodia) and Aman Resort (Vietnam), together they explored the countryside and surrounding ruins, reconnected with the local cuisine, and melted away in the comfort of two pleasure palaces, leaving “clear-headed and jellylegged”. For Bobby it was a journey back to the region he once called home and for Alia, his girlfriend, a first-time expedition through a breathtaking landscape. For the full feature and photographs, turn to page 52-59.

TRAVEL | special feature


Marking her first visit to Europe and first-ever overseas cooking gig, Bangkok’s illustrious street-food master Jay Fai made a summer jaunt to Copenhagen to whip up her famed crab omelette for the opening presentation of the 6th annual MAD Symposium. Words by Mason Florence • Photos by Arlei Lima Floating on Copenhagen’s historic waterways 44 | OCTOBER 2018

special feature | TRAVEL

Kronborg Castle


ow could Jay Fai–Thailand’s most famous street food vendor–say no to an invitation to headline what is arguably the single coolest food event on the planet? She may have been the only chef there running a Michelin-starred restaurant to not have previously known about the MAD Symposium, but the chance to travel with her family to Denmark and to demonstrate her signature crab omelette to an international whos-who of global foodies was just too good to refuse.

OCTOBER 2018 | 45

TRAVEL | special feature

The Big Red Tent

The Team Behind MAD6 46 | OCTOBER 2018

special feature | TRAVEL

About MAD MAD is transforming our food system by giving chefs and restaurateurs the skills, community, time, and space to create real and sustainable change in their restaurants, in their communities, and across the world. Recognizing that food is inseparable from some of our most pressing global challenges, MAD unites a global cooking community with a social conscience, a sense of curiosity, and an appetite for change. Together, we envision a better, healthier, more sustainable, more delicious world for cooks and eaters alike. Chef and co-owner of restaurant noma RenĂŠ Redzepi launched MAD as a two-day symposium in 2011, when 300 chefs, restaurateurs, servers, and writers gathered in Copenhagen to discuss the future of food. Today, under the leadership of a ten-member Board of Directors, Executive Director Melina ShannonDiPietro, as well as leading donors, MAD is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that boasts a global network of individuals working to make food better.

A Family Affair

Inside the Big Red Tent

Selfie with David Chang & Chef Ton

Proud Mom, Proud Daughters

Melina Shannon-DiPietro

Chef Palisa Anderson OCTOBER 2018 | 47

TRAVEL | special feature

H.E. Ambassador Vichit Chitvimarn

Urban foraging

A Breath of Fresh Air

Kai Jaew Poo, the famed crab omelette

Cooking demo @ the Thai Ambassador’s residence 48 | OCTOBER 2018

special feature | TRAVEL

Chef Ton, Jay Fai, René Redzepi & Mason Florence @ MAD Symposium after party

The MAD Symposium brings a dynamic group of food nomads from around the world for two days of intense discussion of the past, present and future of food. This year’s theme – “Mind The Gap” – featured speakers and participants from all disciplines who brought to the forefront a wide range of issues around diversity in the restaurant industry, notably gender equality and the role of female chefs. At 73, Jay Fai has never been the kind of chef who travels to promote herself. She has no agent, no PR, no business line to call. She is not and never has been involved in self-promotion or positioning herself in front of new audiences and international media, and she remains humble and ever-so-slightly, out of reach. And so, for the very first time ever, Jay Fai was leaving Thailand to cook abroad—on international assignment. Happily accepting the surprise inviation from MAD’s organisers – and with the generous support of Singha Beer, Thai Airways and the Royal Thai Embassy in Copenhagen – a group of us set off, leaving Asia behind for Denmark. In truth, I’m not sure she really knew what she was getting herself into, but she’s a steadfast professional, a perfectionist, an entrepreneur. Her size and spirit, and her humility, make Jay Fai a person impossible not to love. Jay Fai took to the MAD stage to rapturous applause. With Chef Ton translating, and like a well-versed comedian with the entire audience in the palm of her hand, Jay Fai was… well… Jay Fai, and had the whole room in fits of giggles. This is a woman without ego, who cooks with love and, as it turns out, great humour, too! She demonstrated her iconic crab omelette—later gobbled up by fellow chefs backstage—and throughout the presentation continued to have the audience in fits. She was, to mine and everyone’s supposes, completely unphased by it all; a complete natural.

For the very first time ever, Jay Fai was leaving Thailand to cook abroad—on international assignment.

OCTOBER 2018 | 49

TRAVEL | special feature

After the storm

Nyhavn canal

Copenhagen’s historic waterfront

Chef Rasmus Kofoed @ Geranuium 50 | OCTOBER 2018

On parade

The Admiral Hotel

special feature | TRAVEL

The entire experience Jay Fai later told us, was thrilling. To travel to Denmark and experience so much with her family was a truly special and unique opportunity. And really, while it was just another crab omelette from a woman who has produced tens of thousands of them over a fifty-year career, there was no need for practice or rehearsal. “I’ve been doing this for a long time,” she quipped. Post-MAD, we partied and drank excellent Danish craft beers—yes, Jay Fai, too—and dined at some of the city’s best restaurants, including noma and Geranium, in between sampling local street food and fried chicken under a bridge. One afternoon, by invitation of the Royal Thai Embassy Copenhagen, we were warmly welcomed at the Ambassador’s residence for dinner, and Jay Fai made an impromptu crab omelette on-site, without fuss or pretension, another delivery of her most celebrated and iconic culinary creation. She was treated like the living national treasure she is, and we were all just along for the ride.

Kronborg Castle

OCTOBER 2018 | 51

TRAVEL | special feature


e started talking internally about Hanoi, the city where I spent almost 20 years of my life. From there, spilling over into tales of my misadventures in Saigon, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and of course, Bangkok. Humorous and emotional yarns of my days spent in Southeast Asia; often skint, cooking for cash. It was a jolly jaunt down old memory lane. Alia smiled and nodded, the polite gesture of someone who loves you, listens to you, but in reality, doesn’t understand what you are talking about. I was jabbering on for a few hours—or perhaps it was days—and then it occurred to me—like a thunderbolt! Let me show you. A return trip to Southeast Asia. Re-visit my old stomping grounds; see the people and eat the food—ohhhh man, the goi cuon and the cao lam… yes! Get my teeth stuck into mi quang! Yeah, it’ll be a return to my spiritual home, with my girlfriend in tow… on a romantic mission. Our itinerary was loose. It was better this way. I have friends, connections, favourite dishes, favourite restaurants throughout the region, far too much to cram into a few weeks. Anyway, this wasn’t about high-fiving old acquaintance and getting sloshed in grotty dive-bars. So, where would go? I was forced to be picky. Still, knowing that everything in that part of Asia is extraordinarily beautiful, so was happy to go about our time at a languid tourist’s pace, taking everything in and re-establishing my bond with the region—and the food! Yeah… the food! I’m going to bang on about the food quite a bit. Be prepared.

52 | OCTOBER 2018

special feature | TRAVEL


Both personal and romantic voyage, celebrity chef and TV presenter Bobby Chinn sets off on a return journey to Southeast Asia in the hope of showcasing this unique region to his girlfriend and re-connecting with this spiritual land. Words by Bobby Chinn

OCTOBER 2018 | 53

TRAVEL | special feature

CAMBODIA Alia and I wanted a respite from London, to tear ourselves away from the big city—and my gruelling filming schedule in the Middle East—so we sort out comfort and calm, and arrived firstly, at the Amansara Resort in Siem Reap, Cambodia. I don’t need to sell Aman to you, their resorts are renowned the world over for high-end luxury and the very best in service. I’ve roughed-it and indulged during my travels, yet this was five-star and some. And who doesn’t like kickin’ it back every once and a while; room service, a fully-stocked mini bar, a rainmaker shower and perfectly ironed bed sheets. Once a residence for guests of King Sihanouk, Amansara is a masterpiece of 1960s New Khmer architecture; set within the Nui Chua National Park. The restoration to the building was a significant step forward into modernity—with the additions of a curvilinear pool and monochrome minimalism evident throughout—while remaining rooted in its image from the once-mighty Khmer empire. With much of the infrastructure remaining and in pretty good nick, it must be said, it’s no wonder the ruins are UNESCO-protected. And so, we started with the ruins. Amansara has a fleet Jeeps and custom-fitted remorks— Cambodian tuk-tuks—so we hopped on board and travelled out to Angkor Wat and surrounding temples and ruins. We drove through narrow lanes and passed stilted villages, many with rustic and colourful double-storied houses. The water levels had receded, and the long stilts looked like giraffe legs, pegged into the mud. Acres of paddy fields rolled out for miles, disappearing in the distance and women wrapped in colourful scarves paddled small boats on the little water flowing inland. As we passed through makeshift villages, Alia and I received a thousand smiles. Children especially seemed particularity pleased to see us, and revealed their wide-beamed grins. The elderly snoozed in rocking hammocks and naked toddlers splashed in puddles. In the jungle-covered ruins of the Khmer Empire, our Amansara guide walked us through the hanging bush and verdant terrain, leading us towards the ancient stone carvings. This isn’t a Cambodia I’m familiar with. It’s all proper Tomb Raider stuff! The Khmer were great builders, filling the landscape with monumental temples, huge reservoirs—called baray—and long canals; used to transport the sandstone blocks from mountainside quarries upriver to Angkor—all new knowledge I’ve stolen from our Amansara guide! I’m lost for words, something that rarely happens! Back at the resort, post-bubble bath and power nap— Amansara is build for this kind of stuff, they do all of the foreplay for me—we dined outside, under pergola-shaded tables. The menu makes it clear that dishes are created around Cambodiancentred cuisine, using ingredients unique to the region and emphasising contrasting flavours. Much of my culinary knowledge of the area is rooted in Vietnam and knowledge acquired from long and deep, late-night conversations with Chef David Thompson; however, there are overlaps, and many Vietnamese dishes are also typical in Cambodia. 54 | OCTOBER 2018

Cambodian picnic complimentary from Amansara resort

special feature | TRAVEL

Cambodian dishes usually contain less chilli and sugar than Vietnamese, and in Phnom Penh and parts of the southern region, the food is more Thai-leaning. Vietnamese flavours are high on herbs and spices, with the frequent use of lemongrass and lime. Here, Cambodian tastes are elevated by the use of kroeung—a Cambodian word for spice pastes—and are shown in the form of a banana blossom chicken salad and a terrific quail egg soup. I’m right at home with this style of cooking, and nostalgia kicks in. I find food like this plays a prominent role in my memory and I’m sent scurrying through time, back to the 1980s when I first visited Cambodia as a skinny kid with funny hair, tucking into the likes of amok trei and bai sach chrouk.

OCTOBER 2018 | 55

TRAVEL | special feature

56 | OCTOBER 2018

special feature | TRAVEL

We slept a solid eight hours, a luxury we’re rarely afforded back home. Breakfast was outside at Amansara’s Village House outpost, overlooking the Angkor moat. The black coffee is dynamite and alerted my senses, helping me to kickstart the day! The Nom Ben Chock—noodles in a fragrant light curry— for breakfast was first-rate and high on morning spice, lip-smackin’ stuff! A few hours lazing by the pool is followed by a market tour, a morning activity I would often start my day with back during my time in Vietnam. The fruits on display remind me just how expansive this region is for produce and my girlfriend and I indulge in mushy mangos, sweet popping lychees and swoon over the wonderful mangosteens. Squid arrives moments from the boat and freshwater fish from the Tonlé Sap and Mekong are stripped and laid out to dry, some skewered and partnered with mango, ready to be grilled. Returning to base, Amansara staff offer us a sunset boat cruise along the Mekong. Floating down river, we pass the stilted villages again with their houses, schools and churches bobbing on the water. We paddle through a mangrove forest and back out into light, peering over the edge and into the muddy Mekong, hoping to spot life; maybe a giant catfish or a colour-changing thorny frog, perhaps if we’re lucky, an Irrawaddy Dolphin. Morning yoga takes place on a floating Pavilion and a blissful massage from the extensive selection of “Wellness Immersions” prepares me before departing. We leave Amansara, and Cambodia—clear-headed and jelly-legged—for Vietnam.

I don’t need to sell Aman to you, their resorts are notorious the world over for high-end luxury and the very best in service. I’ve roughed-it and indulged during my travels, yet this was five-star and some.

Amansara restaurant

OCTOBER 2018 | 57

TRAVEL | special feature


I love Vietnam! The whole country has seeped into my soul. To have this opportunity to showcase it my girlfriend is something special. There is a great energy here that I tapped into years ago and I still feel the vibrant excitement: the smiles, the laughter, the positivity. I feel this great sense of being alive in Vietnam. We spend a few days exploring Hanoi, navigating the alleyways and street stalls in the Old Quarter. I forgot just how thrilling the city is, and how fast the mopeds whizz by, but then just as quickly, an old lady on a rickety bicycle wobbles past. There’s greenery among the brick and cement, with nurseries selling potted plants and florists amassing great swaths of multicoloured blossoms. If you need a pot, you’ll find it here. A plastic stool, sure. A frying pan, you bet. A refrigerator, yeah sure! Everything is here; displayed and advertised in splashes of colour. I watch it all unfold, breath it all in… ah, happy, happy, hectic Hanoi. It’s good to be back! With tranquillity being the objective of our journey, it wasn’t long before we left the hustle and bustle of Hanoi for the Amanoi Resort, on the country’s scenic coastline. Perched along a coastal ridge with views of the sea, Amanoi was designed by Brussels-born architect, Jean-Michel Gathy, the self-described “spoiled kid of the hotel industry.” The drive is spectacular! We ascend to the top of the mountain, overlooking the stunning coast. Surrounded by forests, the resort looks out across the wild blue waters of Vinh Hy Bay—one of the hidden gems of Vietnam. 58 | OCTOBER 2018

Upon arrival, we’re greeted with a refreshing cocktail and cool towels to wipe away the tourist dirt. My attention though is soon stolen by the view and the infinity swimming pool—I’ll be bombing into that later, I thought! We have a tour of the Amanoi grounds—ahhhh, peace, finally! All natural, nothing contrived. It’s beautiful throughout, lush, contemporary, a place I’d very happily call home. They promote a strong philosophy towards eco and sustainable and staff inform us of their efforts to educate guests with this approach, steering them towards a sense of inner peace and rejuvenation. Look, I’ll admit, I have a bit of a Jekyll & Hyde complex: I’m all for the quiet and the tranquility, but just as quickly, my mind can kick into overdrive and I’m thinking, planning, working, seeking adventure! I enquire with staff—service is always cheering, always helpful, always humble—about a mountain hike and snorkelling, after which we take dinner on the beach, beneath the stars. A visit here—return for me, the first time for Alia—is truly rewarding, in all of the right ways! The food, service, and hospitality is unrivalled. This swank luxurious setting and the efforts of the Amansara Resort and Amanoi Resort make it almost impossible to leave—why on earth would you want to, anyway? Ah, life is calling. Work is banging down the door. My phone is starting to ring again. The shadow of responsibility is dark, but oh, man, is this the life!

special feature | TRAVEL


OCTOBER 2018 | 59



“Untitled Poems of Théodore Rousseau”


his new exhibition at Tang Contemporary Art Bangkok features a series that the artist, Natee Utarit, created in the forest of Fontainebleau in France, where he lived from Spring to Autumn 2017. Utarit spent several months making art and seeking out the wonders of the imagery and subjects of landscape painting, regarding Théodore Rousseau, the leader of the Barbizon school, which focused on an art movement towards Realism in art. The subject of Landscape was controversial during the time of “Le Salon” in Paris, and the peinture en plein air was considered less valuable than Portrait and historical subjects. Artists of the Barbizon school were pioneer representatives of a new revolutionary era in contemporary artistic language. Sadly, as always happened during big artistic revolutions, their genius would have been recognised and understood only many years later. Landscape subjects first caught the eye of Utarit in the 1990s, and he steadily developed Landscape works in many stages of his career, and it remains a subject he goes back to through a phase of abstraction and towards a more narrative style. His style, however, and technique, persistently expands and remoulds itself into his unique way of thinking about Landscape paintings. This latest series is characterised by choice of synthesising an element of oak trunks. In this attempt, aesthetic choice and conceptual message interlace perfectly, returning the viewer the precise dimension and atmosphere of the forest of Fontainebleau, and subtly stating his practice and his contribution at the same level of those pivotal unique geniuses, capable of moving steps forward in the Art process. In confronting nature and the self, Utarit focuses on the relationship between concept and subject, as well as the relationship between a conceptual perspective on landscape painting and visions of the world or space. “Every person has a different perception of reality and completeness. I experienced the landscape as I worked; it was a particularly fresh and solid experience.” “Untitled Poems of Théodore Rousseau” opens on October 4th (6pm-8pm) with a special party held on October 17th (Brunch starting at 9am with drinks until 10pm).

OCTOBER 2018 | 61

ART & CULTURE | exhibitions


Subhashok The Arts Centre

Soi Phrom Chit, Sukhumvit 39 | 02 662 0299 | Tue-Sat, 10am-5.30pm, Sun, 12pm-6pm |

After forty years of work, artist Kittisak Kaewduk finally brings us “Coercion”, a sculpture exhibition and the result of his ongoing art project which began in 2014. Facing the challenge of creating an effective art curriculum under the Quality Assurance in Higher Education guidelines, Kaewduk started to question its use of the same criteria to regulate all academic departments. This dissatisfaction is the grounding of the exhibition, a series of sculpture works in metal and wooden forms.

UNTIL 16 OCTOBER Still Moving

Artery Gallery Bangkok

Wolf Co-Working Space, 1041/5 Silom Soi 21 | 096 976 7759 Mon-Sat, 9am-7pm |

This is the latest solo exhibition by Boonkasem Kowsanti, Thailand’s foremost independence artist. His works profile the folkways of the Andaman Sea through his abstract expression of more than 70 paintings. He is dedicated to the creation of oil paintings with paintbrush, palm and fingers, including Abstract Expression paintings. In addition, the artist also brought the paintings of his wife and son to coexhibit, to fully disclose the love relationship within the family.

17 OCTOBER-18 NOVEMBER Kawita Vatanajyankur

Nova Contemporary Project Space

Parichart Court at Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel Soi Mahadlek-Luang 3, Rajdamri Rd | 090 910 6863 Tue-Sun, 11am-7pm |

This is the artist Kawita Vatanajyankur first overview in Bangkok outside of a white cube setting. Works include four videos presented as site-specific installations in which Vatanajyankur explores the socio-cultural and psychological potentials of video art, utilising an inventive and painterly approach that imbues her documented gestures with a tangible sense of fragility and directness. She interrogates the psychological, social and cultural ways of viewing continuous and repetitive action we perform daily. 62 | OCTOBER 2018

exhibitions | ART & CULTURE

18 OCTOBER-13 JANUARY 2019 Vetal Suite

Nova Contemporary Project Space

Soi Mahadlek-Luang 3, Rajdamri Rd | 090 910 6863 Tue-Sun, 11am-7pm |

The first solo exhibition after Chatchai Puipia staged his funeral and decided to be reclusive from the art circle in 2010. This exhibition includes Puipia’s culmination of an eight-year investigation into the possible relationships between the conscious, subconscious and unconscious of love, desire, life and art. Through a situation constructed within gallery space by the artist, the audience will experience a fantasy trip, a compelling context for viewers to experience the works.

UNTIL 27 JANUARY The Bullet School Canvases H Gallery Bangkok

201 Soi 12 Sathorn Rd | 085 021 5508 | Daily, 10am-6pm, Tue by appointment |

The first major solo exhibition in Thailand of works by Shan-Exile artist, Sawangwongse Yawnghwe. Working out of Chiang Mai since 2017, his paintings possess rough-hewn surfaces where contrasts of images and text claim fractious relations of history and memory.
 “The Bullet School Canvases” are an extensive series of site specific, large-scale installations based paintings created specifcally for H Gallery Bangkok. The scale of Yawnghwe’s installation and multiple perspectives, heighten the drama of the subject-matter. RED CURRY OXTAIL + BONE MARROW kaffir lime + basil + coriander

LOCATION Conveniently located just 20 metres off Convent Rd (on Soi Pipat 2), in Bangkok’s Silom District OPENING HOURS 3pm–1am Every Day Full Kitchen & Bar until 1am CONTACT T: 02 238 0931 E: @eatmerestaurant @eatmerestaurant @eatmerestaurant

OCTOBER 2018 | 63

ART & CULTURE | museum spotlight

National Museum: Splendours of Thai Art

A few months ago, visitors may have been somewhat disappointed to visit the Bangkok National Museum, discovering that the main highlight—the collection of Buddha statues and significant Thai treasures—had been replaced by an exhibition about Japan, while other halls were mostly closed for renovation. Now, it’s time to return to the National Museum as they present the best of Thai art in a new and contemporary presentation. By Luc Citrinot


t is little known, but the National Museum in Bangkok is the largest of its kind in Southeast Asia with over 10,000 items on display. It is also one of the oldest in the region as the beginning of the collection was created by King Rama V in 1874. Back in 2016, the museum unveiled the first stage of a renovation program deemed to modernise the presentation of the collections which had not changed for over 50 years. The Thai History Gallery

64 | OCTOBER 2018

was the centre of the first wave of renovations and is today the highlight of the collection. In a former 200-year old palace (Siwamokkhaphiman Hall), the gallery shows the evolution of Thai art history, highlighting giant sculptures of Buddha and deities from the Lopburi to the Rattanakhosin eras. Highlights of the beautiful collection are the colossal Buddha Head of bronze, sculpted in the 16th century during the Ayutthaya

museum spotlight | ART & CULTURE

Kingdom as well as the Ramkhamhaeng Inscription, a stone stele showing the earliest example of Thai writing. The inscriptions are deemed to date back to 1292, in the Sukhothai Kingdom era. The stele is inscribed on the UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register since 2003. Around the hall, statues and heads of Buddhas display the evolution of Thai art with its various styles over a millennium and are an excellent introduction for visitors. During the spring time, the National Museum reopened with refurbished halls and new displays, with improved lighting that makes the facility more attractive again for visitors. The four halls are part of the Moo Phra Wiman complex, a former residential complex of Siam viceroys. They are fewer items exhibited, but they are better lighted and displayed behind glass cabinets to protect the pieces from dust and humidity. Digital and multimedia techniques have been added making the exhibition more entertaining and attractive for younger visitors. The halls display crafts and traditional arts of classical Siam, from traditional costumes to weapons, from rare puppets used for royal performances and Khon masks to an extensive collection of music instruments. The textile hall is spectacular with two dozen magnificent, rare costumes once belonging to the Royal family or noble people. Embroideries enhance exquisite

pieces of silk and cotton with silver and gold threads adorned with jewels such as gold necklaces. Among the highlights of this hall is a King Mongkut (Rama IV) embroidered costume with oak leaves and fruits design in gold thread. It dates back to 1859. Renovations works are still going on for other parts of the museum including the sculptures’ collection. The task is to have the entire museum completed by 2020 with six further halls to be opened this month. They will present collections of ceramics, mother-of-pearl inlay, Buddhist monk utensils as well as royal transportation. The renovated halls are putting the National Museum once again in its place as a truly top attraction in Bangkok. According to museum authorities, some 800 people visit the National Museum on average each day. Not suprisingly, before the renovation, the museum recorded only 300 people per day. Information: The National Museum is opened from Wednesday to Sunday from 9am-4pm except on national holidays. Price is THB200 for non-Thai citizens. Guided tours are also organised in English, French, German and Japanese for free. Access to the Museum is by public boat or taxis. The museum is located along Sanam Luang next to Thamassat University (Na Phrathat Rd.) and the National Theatre. Tel: 02 224 1333 OCTOBER 2018 | 65

ART & CULTURE | inerview

An Interview with Megan Ross A young poet expresses personal tales of the high and lows of pregnancy in Bangkok. Megan is a writer and poet who left her home in South Africa to move to Bangkok, staying for a year and a half before retuning to Gonubie, in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. While residing in Bangkok she worked as an English teacher and, quite unexpectedly, as she admits and explores throughout her writing, became pregnant. In her debut collection of poetry, Milk Fever, Megan explores the uneasy truths about unexpected motherhood and all its emotional detritus. Described as a “deft and experimental exploration of the angst, joy and self-reckoning of young womanhood”, Milk Fever is a collection of poems that brings together the evocative with the provocative, and the feminist with the personal, in a bold and startling style. Thanks for talking to us, Megan. Can you tell us when you first came to Bangkok and what your first impressions were? I first arrived in Bangkok in February 2014, after travelling for a month through India. I took a bus straight up to Chiang Mai, thinking that I would look for work, but, after a very serendipitous dinner with two South African friends who were teaching English in Bangkok, I was convinced to move South to the capital. My first impression? Admittedly, it was a 66 | OCTOBER 2018

public transport made all kinds of freedom possible; in South Africa, most people who can afford to, will drive cars, and our public transport is not as developed and so in Bangkok there is this sense of being a part of the flow of the city, in adjusting to its rhythms and letting it move you, rather than the other way around, that I had never thought possible. In Bangkok everybody from the elderly to very small children can enjoy the city at night, and there is so much to do. It’s very, very exciting. sensory overload but it was also a place, and a pace of life, to which I instantly took to. I was in awe of the people, the sounds, the colours, the smells and tastes. It was busy and full of an energy. It was love at first sight. How does the city differ from where you grew up? I grew up in a sleepy surfing and fishing suburb of East London (a city in South Africa). Where I am from there is a clear, starry night sky, whereas, as I soon discovered in Bangkok, a sky can be the territory of enormous cranes and buildings and glamorous roof tops. I had never seen that many skyscrapers, or a city that came alive at sunset or the street life—a culture of eating street food and shopping until late at night—that I encountered in Bangkok. Thai

Were you already writing poetry in Bangkok? Funnily enough, I was writing short fiction and what were the beginnings of a novel. It helped that I had a great job, and was living in the bustling hub of Sathorn: there was plenty inspiration, and I had the time and space too. Can you recall your feelings when you first found out that you were pregnant? I was absolutely devastated. Which is not something you’re supposed to, or often allowed, to say. Babies are supposed to be welcomed into one’s life the second their presence is discovered. However, I was an independent, happy, adventurous 25-year-old and I knew how becoming a mom would have to

interview | ART & CULTURE

change that. However, when my son was born and in the months that followed I was able to create a motherhood that worked for both of us, one in which I am able to work and still care for my son, and that is largely in part because of help from our families and the fact that childcare is affordable in South Africa.

writing to be a relief. When we take what is inside of us and bring it out into the world, make it external, and, in a sense, separate from us, it is like losing a heavy load, or sharing it, somehow. Writing the collection was, at times, a scary process but I had this urgency in me: to create, to make sense of, to translate a physical and emotional Did you consider staying in transformation into art. I was like Bangkok to start a family? creating a new body in which I I stayed in Thailand until I was four could walk around this entirely months pregnant but my partner foreign universe—this world of was at home in South Africa. I really motherhood—with ease. wanted to go home to my mother. However, in retrospect, with the What does the title “Milk Fever” kind of healthcare and resources I mean? had access to in Bangkok, it might “Milk Fever” works on many have been a better decision to have levels. It is a colloquial term for stayed in Thailand. I have thought mastitis, a painful, uncomfortable of returning with my little family infection of the breast that can many times! happen during breastfeeding. It is also the juxtaposition of two Writing about pregnancy is an very different energies: milk is intimate and personal thing. Was a life-giving, entirely personal this an easy process for you? superfood created in order to I like to think I am an open nourish another’s body. Fever is person, and because of this, I find an unpleasant, painful, sometimes

hallucinatory phenomenon that despite its discomfort, occurs in order to kill infection. To save the body. So, in many ways, the title was about how singular my experience of motherhood has been: how feelings of love, resentment, pain and joy can co-exist. How something can be painful and beautiful at the same time and why we should not pathologise women who don’t instantly take to being mothers. It is essentially an expression of my experience of postpartum depression. Do you have plans to continue with poetry or experiment with other forms of literature? I am currently writing a novel, and have a rough draft of a collection of stories. I’ve been writing short fiction for years now, although the idea of a novel still frightens me, even though I am a couple thousand words in! I love to experiment, however, and enjoy doing so with form and content and language. OCTOBER 2018 | 67

Art & Culture

Photo Feature

THE ART OF SERVICE Final touches that transform the moment, we look at the style and finesse of service at the two Michelin-starred Le Normandie restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Bangkok, a dining room with a dash of something special. Photography by Sunny Gill

Enjoy delightful French wild mushrooms at both Up & Above Restaurant at The Okura Prestige Bangkok and CHAR Restaurant at Indigo Hotel Bangkok this October



wild mushrooms at up & above restaurant

Mushroom lovers are in for a real culinary treat as we head into the winter months at Up & Above Restaurant at The Okura Prestige Bangkok. The popular dining outlet’s talented chefs are using seasonal wild mushrooms from the woodlands of Europe as star ingredients in a number of toothsome culinary offerings. Highlight dishes include a wild mushroom risotto cooked to a lovely velvety consistency and bursting with the nutty, peppery flavour of the mushrooms. Available from October 1st until December 15th 2018, from 12:00-10:30pm. A la carte dishes priced from B250++. For information and reservations, please contact 02 687 9000 or email

more mushrooms celebrations at CHAR CHAR Restaurant at Indigo Hotel Bangkok Wireless Road is thrilled to bring French delicacies to Bangkok. For two weeks in October, CHAR Restaurant will offer a wild mushroom speciality, direct from France. Autumn is officially mushroom season in France. After the grape harvest, wild mushrooms are at the peak of flavour, so connoisseurs from all over the world relish the opportunity to savour them, especially since the season usually only lasts a month. CHAR Restaurant is delighted to have sourced a superb selection of these highly desired wild mushrooms from France. From 12th to 26th October 2018, guests can enjoy this dining delight at CHAR Restaurant for THB 1,500++ per dish (subject to service charge and government tax). For reservations, please call 02 207 4999, email

in the comfort of “at home” luxury With a huge passion and endless creativity, Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok presents Chef Phillip Taylor’s new a la carte menu at Volti restaurant & bar. Guests may indulge in the new contemporary Italian a la carte menu whilst enjoying unbeatable views of the Chao Phraya River. Diners can exercise their five senses timeless gastronomy accompanied by an air of warmth and sincerity from the stunning flawless faces of the Volti team. Volti restaurant & bar is located on the lobby level of the hotel’s Shangri-La Wing, the restaurant opens for dinner nightly from 6pm to 10:30pm. For more information or to make a reservation, gcall 02 236 7777 extension 6205/6206 or email or book online at

celebrating a year anniversary of The St. Regis Epic dinner buffet The St. Regis Bangkok celebrates one year of The St. Regis Epic dinner buffet, by kicking it up a notch, with even more gourmet selections. The St. Regis Epic is an extravagant dinner buffet offering, an epicurean feast for the senses. A truly EPIC dining experience is all the more enhanced by the enigmatic 12th-floor views over the Royal Bangkok Sports Club grounds and the urban skyline beyond, as the sun sets and the city night-lights illuminate the horizon. The Epic dinner buffet is held every Thursday to Saturday, from 6:00pm to 10:00pm, at VIU Restaurant, in Bangkok. For reservations, please call 02 207 7777, email

OCTOBER 2018 | 75

FOOD & DRINK | kitchen backstories

Northern Traditions

Foraging for Tai Yai cuisine in Chiang Rai.


n a clear day in Mae Kon, Chiang Rai, we pass through a mysterious iron gate opening onto a long, tree-lined path. Discovering ourselves ensconced in lush farmland, interwoven with centuries-old virgin forest, we ascend a small lychee-tree-covered hill, to find Khamdaeng, a fairskinned lady nearing her 50s, going about her work in a humble, but spotless kitchen. Travelling to Chiang Rai by foot through a tortuous mountain route over 30 years ago, Khamdaeng and her husband Kham set off from their poverty-stricken village, in Kengtung, Burma, in search of survival. With a choice between starvation and a dangerous and uncertain trek to Chiang Rai—with a leap of faith—the couple took a chance on a better life in Thailand. Despite an inhospitable journey, eventually they found their sanctuary in Mae Kon where they began their new lives as agricultural workers. Today, Khamdaeng is head cook of Canary Natural Resort: a 200-rai private property dedicated to preserving virgin forest and promoting organic growing in accordance with the late HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s Sufficiency Economy Philosophy. While her repertoire spans from the Northern favourite khao soy—a curry-based noodle dish—to mulberry waffles, Khamdaeng’s real speciality is the cuisine of her Tai Yai heritage. Tai Yai

Rosalind Yunibandhu is Founder & Managing Director of Arcadia Fine Foods. As a lover of both food and culture, she believes that food offers us much more than just a means of sustenance; to her, it’s also a vehicle through which we can tell the unique stories of the land, people and traditions from which it is borne. FB/IG: @arcadiafinefoods 76 | OCTOBER 2018

is the Thai name given to the Shan ethnic group, who live primarily in Shan State in Burma, and constitute one of the four main Buddhist ethnic groups. For those who request it (in advance), Khamdaeng happily prepares her favourite Tai Yai dishes, using ingredients foraged from the surrounding forest and organic farm. Upon arrival, a colourful array of foraged produce lies waiting on her wooden table, still gleaming with the energy of the earth: whole, bright orange turmeric roots, their dramatic shoots still intact; wild green and red chilis. Khamdaeng makes one of her classic dishes: a tea leaf chilli paste. She crushes ginger, chilli and lemongrass with a mortar and pestle, explaining “the most wonderful thing about our food is that it comes from the forest; it is truly natural.” She then adds the finely chopped tea leaves and some roasted bakeua som—the sour, juicy local variety of tomato—and seasons. After further pounding, the result is a glistening feast of textures and colours. She arranges the chili paste delicately in a bowl, suggesting that the paste be eaten with sticky rice and steamed vegetable ferns. Needless to say, we go on to enjoy a veritable and delicious feast, leaving fully sated: our palates tickled by the forest flavours of Khamdaeng’s incredible dishes and our minds inspired by the immense possibilities of the Tai Yai forest kitchen. Canary Natural Resort (www.canarynaturalresort. com) offers private forest foraging excursions and native Tai Yai dining experiences. A small number of well-appointed villas are available for longer stays. Disclaimer: Any person considering engaging in foraging in Thailand should ensure they are doing so in accordance with the law under the Thai National Reserved Forest Act B.E. 2507 (1964) and National Park Act B.E. 2504 (1961).

chew on this | FOOD & DRINK

At Your Service, Or Not Restaurant cooking in Bangkok may be reaching global standards, but little thought or training goes into the improvement of service.


don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that the restaurant cooking in Bangkok is now approaching global standards. Few though, in my opinion, reach the level of say London and Copenhagen. I’m sure some of you are jumping up and down in your chair right now, screaming, “What about New York?” Well, I have only a rudimentary knowledge of The Big Apple; or “Noooo, Bangkok is way better, you ignorant, uninformed halfwit!” to which I say, shut up and sit down. The difference between other culinary capitals and Bangkok? Service. While Bangkok restaurants continue to make lists, news and garner awards— steered by smart PR and hefty publicity budgets— the standard of service in restaurants here remains servery lacking. Diners judge a restaurant experience not merely on food alone, but the overall experience, service included. This begins as soon as they approach the front door. While I’ve been happy to pay for quality cooking, I’m reluctant to tip or compliment the service when, in my practised experience, staff mostly appear to stand around and gawp. In one instance, in a Michelin-rated restaurant who will remain nameless, one member of the team had his flies undone and was chewing gum. The horror!

David J. Constable is a British writer currently residing in Bangkok, where he is the Editor of Bangkok 101 and the Managing Editor of Talisman Media. He has written for a wide range of magazines and newspapers, including Condé Nast Traveller, Tatler, Jamie Oliver magazine and Fine Dining Lovers. He is currently working on his first book, a collection of travel assignments.

Then there’s the host or the person at the reservations counter. Here is a solo role in which I see more and more of in Bangkok, even upon entering my local Dean & Deluca. I believe that the reservation process and the welcome are two of the most critical factors of the restaurant experience, yet the manner in which staff answer the phone here is often hurried and without compassion. Before I’ve even set foot in the restaurant, my experience is off to a bad start. When I enter a restaurant, a server greets me with a wide-beamed smile and “sawadee khrup” only to then fail in taking my jacket, showing me to my table or even passing me off to some other attendant. Once at my table, I’ll be handed a scruffy menu, and one of two things will then happen: either a waiter will hover over me, eye-balling me and forcing me to rush my order or they’ll vanish completely, never to be seen or heard from again. As for the whole hand-across-your-lap thing with the napkin—I can unfold my napkin, thank you very much; what you’re doing is bordering on molestation. A chef or restaurateur will dedicate hundreds of hours to researching, sourcing and applying the finest ingredients, perfecting it on the plate for the customer; but rarely will they educate the person whose job it is to sell the product. I’ve questioned the staff about my strip loin and how the carrots were cooked, and they seemingly have no idea at all. Often, the answer is, “Let me check” to which I never see that waiter ever again. In Bangkok there still appears to be a separation between kitchen and floor staff, each protective over their domain without unifying their efforts and working as a team to the benefit of the restaurant— or the paying customer. OCTOBER 2018 | 77

FOOD & DRINK | eat like nym


A delectable discovery in a hidden Soi almost brings Nym to tears (of joy).


ntering a small alleyway off Charoenkrung Road—one of the first in Thailand to be built using modern construction method—I’m lined on one side by the wall of a Jewelry building and on the other by a wall of graffiti. The busy street sounds stay behind me as I wander a little deeper in, and at one moment, feel like I’m tripping back to my days of wandering the alleys of Kyoto, Japan. Soon enough, I see a shophouse of yesteryear married with retro decor; a sheer lace curtain hangs halfway down the front window as those seen in Parisian cafés. I push the door open... there’s jazz music and a high flame from a gas stove. Something is cooking in a wok. Eak, the patron, runs Sonny’s with his girlfriend. Having returned from London two years ago, they opened Sonny’s restaurant at the Chang Chui creative space before moving to this location in the Old town at the start of this rainy season. Sonny’s menu is written on a blackboard, simply presented: three appetisers, three main dishes, three desserts. Eak creates the menu, cooking with whatever fresh local ingredients he finds each day or week at the local markets. The uniqueness of each dish comes from French cooking techniques Our roving roadside gourmand Nym knows her local grub insideout and thrives on the stories behind the dishes. Each month, she takes an offbeat tour in search of the city’s next delectable morsel. Follow Nym on IG: nymster

78 | OCTOBER 2018

with the little twists of native elements presenting a fusion of French-Thai-style. I try two of the appetisers: a plate of calamari in butter and lemon sauce that makes me want to get up and dance around the table—juicy sauce and the texture of the calamari making me smile—and a stew of beef tongue with a red wine sauce that melts like butter. I go for the main dishes, too: duck confit so crispy outside, juicy and tasty inside; and grilled sea bass on a bed of lentils with the aromatic hint of Chinese celery in a scrumptious white sauce; then chicken risotto with mashed sweet pumpkin, the harmony of sweetness from the pumpkin and savoury of the risotto sent me to the moon. My eyes closed as the tastes played through my mouth. It’s hard to think of ending this experience, but harder yet to choose the sweets to finish with. I haven’t seen or eaten peach melba elsewhere in Bangkok, but here it comes with a raspberry sauce topping and delicious vanilla ice cream; the irresistible chocolate mousse is light as a feather with just the right touch of sweetness so I can finish the two of these dishes easily! Sadly, the journey had to end, and I decide to finish with a cream cheese caramel. Mmmmhhh… it’s so good that I almost break down in tears. A perfect ending to a perfect meal. Address: Sonny’s is in a private Soi next to the Jewelry Hub Building on Charoen Krung Rd, just past the Surawong intersection. Open: WedsSun, 5pm-10pm. Tel: 086 516 2965

bitchin’ in the kitchen | FOOD & DRINK

Bitchin’ in the Kitchen

Returning from sabbatical, Samantha lets loose with her long list of gripes.


e’re hurtling towards 2018 and it feels as though I haven’t spoken to you in months. Actually, I haven’t spoken to you in months! But I’m back and Bangkok has changed. Oh boy, how it’s changed. Shining stars were dished out, lists were conquered, people moved in, people moved out, and the plasticfantastic battle is in full bloody war. Let’s start with the street food saga which had the public up in arms about losing Bangkok’s identity with the Government’s campaigning to “clean up the streets” but ridding us of the street food stand. The streets don’t appear to be much cleaner, but pedestrians do now have more room to manouvre in central Bangkok. A stroll down Silom or Siam never felt so liberating and let’s face it, the food stands on Kao San Road were designed for taste buds after the third Red Bull vodka bucket, not discerning gourmands. However, they still took away our favourite 10 baht moo bing and the toothless som tum lady who knows your dirty little secret: a bag of kap moo. It’s not all doom and gloom, many vendors have converted to the “legal” mobile stands, integrating into shop houses or now huddled into back alleys.

An Australian-born entrepreneur with Thai roots, Samantha Proyrungtong is the founder of and the Bangkok Foodies OFFICIAL facebook community, she also runs her own marketing consulting agency and has become a well-known voice and presence in the Bangkok culinary scene.

For those who say they can’t find street food, they need to look harder; there is a relocation facility being built as we speak for many of those who lost their livelihoods along Saphan 55. Our love-hate relationship for awards reached a peak last year. Oh, come on, surely it can’t only be me. There was the Michelin’s—and Michelin’s puzzling move to add a Phuket section to the second edition. To call Phuket an island rich-in-gastronomy seems a bit of a stretch, despite the handful of notable contenders. And, of course, there was Asia’s 50 Best Awards which Gaggan won for the fourth consecutive year; he also opened an Omakase Tofu restaurant in Sathorn. It was also a rather intense period in Bangkok for the fine water business. Alliances were made and kept, and some were drastically broken. The eagerness of waiters to refill your glasses, as though it were of consequence, is undeniable. How little did we acknowledge the acute influence of branded bottles of water which could divide and conquer an entire industry? “Plastic” became the trigger word in 2018 with foodies losing their mind for straws and plastic bags. The online community was instrumental for much of the hoopla, sharing viral videos and shaming the worst abusers. And although people became fanatical, those vigilantes should be proud of themselves! The Grand Hyatt Erawan and Hyatt Place, to name two winners, have rid all of their plastic straws, and Villa Market Supermarkets now train their staff to ask customers if they require a plastic bag. The next battle is Thailand’s use of universally banned chemicals on food crops. Perhaps I’ll bitch about that next time? OCTOBER 2018 | 79

Nature Reinvents Itself Every Day Life is a constant invention. Only by listening to the silence can we understand the soil, the water, the air and the light while they create life. Only in the silence of our vineyards can we renew the inspiration of our wines. Italy’s Franciacorta DOCG, located in the rolling hills south of Lake Iseo in the province of Brescia, arguably makes the best European sparkling wine outside Champagne itself. The Bellavista winery has played a critical role in transforming the region into one of Italy’s most famous DOCGs. The transformation process began over three decades ago when Proprietor Vittorio Moretti started making wine as a hobby. In 1984

“Like music, wine is an international language” Francesca Moretti

he produced his first sparkling wine, and today he manages a 190 hectare wine estate comprised of 107 different, organically farmed vineyard parcels. As in Champagne, grapes from diverse parcels are blended together to create a house style that remains relatively constant over time. Today, Bellavista vineyards are not like any other Franciaorta vineyards, they are not better or worse, but certainly are different, making them unique. It’s the plantation and the live wood that gives the special characteristics to the grapes and therefore, to the wine. Bellavista has 120 harvest variations available every year, and added to these are at least 20 selections obtained from past harvests–140 variations in total for creating a cuvée. The result, is the Bellavista Alma Gran Cuvée Franciacorta, a deliciously white

and bubbly cuvée with tiny, pearllike chains forming a dynamic fizz and a classic wine full of vigour. In 2004, the Teatro alla Scala asked Bellavista to create a reserve for it long-awaited opening, following many years of restoration work. The result was a collection of wines produced only from rare vintages, those that will never be repeated again. Asia Resident Manager for Ethica Wines, Roberta Picco, was in Bangkok last month for the 19th World G o u r m e t Festival to introduce and pair Bellavista Alma Gran Cuvée Brut Nv Bellavista Brut Rose 2013 with tasting dishes by two Michelinstarred Chef Bernard Back, and Michelin-starred Chefs Alessandra del Favero and Oliver Piras.

The Culture of Abruzzo in a Glass

HISTORY In one of Italy’s most hidden treasures, a wild region off the beaten track known as Abruzzo, Masciarelli winery has been producing top quality wines, oils and Grappa that reflect the amazing bio-diversity of the territory for more than 30 years. Gianni Masciarelli, a pioneer of modern viticulture, has expressed the invaluable richness of Abruzzo through all of his products. Founded in 1978, Gianni created a small estate of 2.5 hectares near Chieti, Abruzzo, and the winery quickly began to grab the attention of experts for its powerful, long-ageing wines based on native grapes. A lover of the land, Gianni’s vision was to reveal the hidden potential of winemaking in Abruzzo, brining Treabbian and Montepulciano d’Abruzzo to the forefront of Italian wine, in a continues effort to enhance the local winemaking culture and traditions. Today, the winery produces 18 labels in five product lines, from the classic Montepulciano, Cerasuolo and Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, to the finest premium lines. FAMILY In 1987, Gianni met Marina Cvetic, initiating both a personal and professional relationship that would make a decisive impact of the winery history. Since 2008, Marina had led the company, contributing to the development of foreign markets, growth and internationalisation and the development of a truly managerial culture. From father to daughter, Miriam Lee Masciarelli, is the winery’s Brand Manager and Administrator. Born in Ortona, Chieti, Miriam reveals a markedly lively and curious personality, and travelled frequently

as a child to follow her father and grandfather in all business activities, from production to cultivation. Following the sudden passing of Gianni, 18-year-old Miriam replaced her father as winery administrator and junior brand manager. Recently, she has made a significant contribution in defining the style of Villa Gemma Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC from vintage 2012. LEGACY Miriam was in Bangkok last month as part of the 19th World Gourmet Festival at Anantara Siam Bangkok, in partnership with S.Pellegrino and Gastronauts Asia, to present a special Masciarelli wine pairing at Chef Luigi Taglienti’s masterclass, in conjunction with The Wine Merchant – Wine Importer Aman Sachdev. “Wine is lifestyle” Miriam Lee Masciarelli

MASCIARELLI Tenute Agricole s.r.l. 66010 San Martino sulla Marrucina (Ch)-Abruzzo–Italy | Via Gamberale 1 Tel:+39 0871 85241/82333 Fax:+39 0871 85330 |

FOOD & DRINK | special report

The Art of Olive Oil Seven surprising secrets of an olive oil masterclass. Words by Chef Nan Hongwiwat

A Tuscan setting


live oil, the golden liquid that seems to furnish every celebrity chef’s counter-top, and fill the heart—and plates—of many Mediterranean countries with pride. We see it lusciously drizzled on food, and we know its hearthealthy, diabetes-busting credentials. But as a chef, I wanted to know more about this ancient oil. How should it best be used, how should a you taste it properly, why are there ‘blends,’ and even more crucially, how are green and black olive orbs crushed just so, to make the perfect velvety oil? In the spirit of learning from the best, I attended an Olive Oil masterclass with Anna Cane, Chief Quality and R&D Officer—Deoleo S.A., the world’s biggest producer of olive oil. As the ‘Godmother’ of Olive oil, she has more than 50 award-winning

82 | OCTOBER 2018

blends under her belt, 31 years in the food industry, five accreditations for Olive oil, and has been a Professional Olive Oil Taster since 1991, under the Italian National Olive Oil Tasters’ Organization and Qualified Panel Leader under International Olive Oil Council (IOOC) since 1999. Sitting in a 250-year-old traditional farmhouse in the olive grove-speckled hills of rural Tuscany, the scene was set for a food lesson that was delicious—yet far more detailed than initially thought. Here are my hand-picked highlights of the four-hour course. The ‘right’ way to taste olive oil is not pretty Rhythmic slurps were not what I expected the dramatic Italian scape of lush spring hills to be filled with.

special report | FOOD & DRINK

Olive Oil masterclass

Anna Cane, Olive Oil Specialist

Tomatoes, mozzarella, basil + Olive Oil

“You need to be aggressive,” Anna explains between gulps of air and sips of fine oil. “You want the oil to meet every surface of the mouth and tongue. Then suck air through the oil to draw out its unique aromas, and close your mouth and breathe out through your nose. This will reveal other flavor notes.” Like wine tasting, the ones who know what they are doing are confident enough to not care about what that looks like. Anna’s deft hands warm our small blue tasting cups, swirling the oil rapidly. The first suck of air, and her eyes are masterfully darting to her catalogue of thousands of olive varietals in her mind. Within seconds, she can define the flavors and balance or blend of the oil. While my initial attempts resulted in some sputtering, yet I found the louder and more violent you get—the more aromas you are rewarded with. Yes, it’s weird. But it’s for a reason.

three years to 10 years. But once they do, olive trees can continue producing into the hundreds of years.

Olive Oil is harder to make than you think

Olive oil color is not crucial

Olive oil can only solely be extracted from the olive fruit, a notable member of the Oleaceae family which interestingly makes it cousins with Jasmine and Lilac—their fragrant nature a nice link. But it’s harder to make olive oil that just squeezing a few pits. To make just one liter of olive oil, you must have five kilograms of olives. It isn’t instant either, Olive trees also do not have olives for their first

A fun fact, Anna shares, is that quality olive oil can vary drastically in color. I used to believe the almost deep lime green shade was a failsafe good-taste indicator. But in fact, olive oil quality is determined by the level of free acidity (expressed as oleic acid), not by its color. For example, Extra Virgin Olive Oil has the lowest level of acidity, therefore, is the highest quality when compared to other olive

Olive oil doesn’t taste like Olives Making it even more complex, olives take on the mineral or terroir notes of their location, and there are around 2000 different varieties of olives, globally. Each with a distinctive taste and aroma. The fact that olive trees grow best in subtropical climates, means you can’t plant anywhere either. And every season the flavor profiles of each olive growing area can vary according if the weather has been too dry (more bitter), or too wet (less fruity). That’s why palates like Anna’s are so cherished, as she taste-tests olive oils across the world seasonally to make sure her blends match the sensory profiles she previously defined, and only then can be sold to us consumers.

OCTOBER 2018 | 83

FOOD & DRINK | special report

oil varieties. Without being refined or chemically treated, it retains the purity, without any sensory flaws. And even more surprising, I used to be sure only green olives could be pressed into oil. In fact, green, black, violet and all olive colors in between, can be made into oil—with black olives giving a sweeter overall finish, and green giving off stronger and fresher aromas.

Don’t be afraid of a little flavor I’m shocked, when in the tasting session Anna explains the myriad of Olive oil tasting notes, ranging from apple, artichoke, nuts, citrus, even flowers, grass or exotic fruits. Instructed to suck in the taster oils laid out, making sure I emulate the loud suck of oil that Anna makes look so easy, I had never noticed grassy-rocket highlights, or equated olive or its oil with fragrant fruits such as passionfruit. But it’s true. Seriously, try it for yourself.

Examing Olive Oil coloring

Europe produces 73% of global olive oil, with Spain, Italy and Greece accounting for 97% of this total. But each country also has unique methods according to history and taste preferences. For example, in Italy there is more than 500 types of olives cultivated, in a mixture of hues, whereas Greece has 100 varieties, with black olives as the preference. In the middle is Spain, famous for their green olives such as Arbequina or Hojiblanca, and boast 262 assortments. Most are used in Olive oil production. Blending oils is a science—and a tough art Did you know that a distinct flavor of your favorite olive oil may not be derived from one specific olive variety or olives from one region, but from the blend of different olive varietals? According to Anna Cane, the unmatched complex flavors of olive oil cannot be achieved by one specific olive variety as olive from the same source may taste differently year-to-year depending on the weather conditions. However, since each variety has its own unique aroma and flavor profiles, it requires both an art and science to create the perfect blend. Consequently, to achieve the desired sensorial profiles, olive oils from various olive cultivars at different ripening stages must be carefully selected by the blender. To test this, in the masterclass Anna guides us to make our own olive oil blend! Unsurprisingly, my blend has a floral taste profile with notes of tropical fruits and a spicy kick—to reflect the “Thainess” in me! 84 | OCTOBER 2018

Pasta + Olive Oil lunch is served

“An Extra Virgin profile should have strong green fruitiness, high pungency and bitterness which is a sign of high antioxidant content, and milder notes of apple, mature fruits, grass and subtle sweetness,” Anna explains. After the session, we get to enjoy the fruits of our labours at lunch—homemade orecchiette, fresh caprese salad doused in fresh Italian olive oil, all under the Tuscan sun. It’s always intrigued me why olive oil means so much to Mediterranean cultures, but I think I know the answer now. It’s more than a delicious accompaniment to foods. It represents a lifestyle that celebrates good food, and great produce—and invariably long, happy lives. And that, makes it worth more than gold. For more information: Follow Chef Nan: @Ananhongwiwat

review | FOOD & DRINK

Il Bolognese

This tiny outpost of Emilia-Romagna is the pride and joy of Italiano Bangkok. dish make customers feel like family, too. It quietly goes about its business, churning out bowls of pasta and wood-fired pizzas— offering wheat free pizzas made using Italian flour—and turning happy customers into regulars. It’s about comfort and familiarity, the knowing that what you order is going to be made fresh and by the hands of a chef with a big heart. My Carpaccio di Riccola (B390) was knockout. Thinly-sliced— hardly, this is plump and unctuous, fatty with flavour—marinated yellowtail is placed on crisp bread from local Conkey’s Bakery and finished with a glug of Olivastra Seggianese Extra Virgin Olive— you’ll find the very best olive oil in the city at Il Bolognese—followed by Salsiccia Unriaca (B520) and deeply-rich meatballs marinated in Merlot on a bed of risotto and ve been to Il Bolognese minute it throws open its doors at Parmigiano, in chicken consommé. several times, but hardly 5:30pm, and a number of times, Umph! Big on flavour and to which remember a single visit. when I’ve turned up solo, at 8pm I add yet more olive oil. Vague flashes of recall: walls or 9pm, am turned away because You can eat your Formaggi of cream and lipstick red, acres I didn’t book ahead. It’s always (B430/610) and Ossobucco of exposed brick, snatches of packed to the rafters, popular with (B530) in the snug comfort of the conversation with friends and locals and visitors alike. red walls and happy customer colleagues. But the food? Nothing. Why so popular? Il Bolognese soundtrack. This is the sort of Oh, wait: maybe a large bowl of exudes the homely, personal place where you go on a first Ravioli al Funghi Porchini (B470) warmth that consortia of wannabe date, celebrate your birthday, and ah, yes, the outstanding restaurant-owners who spend have a business meeting over a Strozzapreti Alle Canoochie (B330), hundreds of thousands of baht fail bowl of Cappelletti, and if you’re the inevitable Parma & Stracciatella to recreate. Andrea is a generous entertaining friends from abroad, Pizza (B590). Blame the Chianti. host, on-site and on-hand almost pat yourself on the back for having Litres of lovely, lovely Chianti. every service, his warmth creating come across a real find. Born from manager Andrea’s the convivial spirit of Emiliaby David J. Constable desire to bring authentic, quality Romagna which he happily shares Italian produce to Bangkok, the with Bangkok. Il Bolognese restaurant occupies a cute little The restaurant is never going 139/3 Sathorn Soi 7 place halfway up Sathorn Soi 7. to be at the vanguard of the A bit battered around the edges, Bangkok dining scene, but neither Tel: 02 286 8805 but in a decorative way, like a does it wish to be. It does, though, Open: Daily 11:30am-2:30pm, 5:30pm-11pm lived-in Italian grandma’s house. have the biggest heart, and the The space gets mobbed almost the care and love they pour into each


OCTOBER 2018 | 85

FOOD & DRINK | review


New tempting menu and chocolate bar for a cosmopolitan dining adventure.


his cosy eatery offers new dishes with the East-meets-West concept and starts the journey to expand its menu to tame your hunger. Surrounded by a charming garden and a unique two-story waterfall, nestled in Movenpick Hotel Sukhumvit 15 Bangkok. The kitchen is headed by the new executive sous chef El Khatib Mohamad Omar, a Lebanese celebrity chef who brings a unique selection of Mediterranean flair alongside with Western favourites and classic Thai cuisine. I kick off my meal with the humble Thai dish Goong Rad Nam Makham (B380), prawns in a wonderfully rich tamarind sauce with young coconut flakes. All you need is a sprinkle of crispy fried shallots to elevate the flavour. The Suea Rong Hai (B320), grilled strip-loin Australian beef steak, merges with tender juiciness and is topped with a tangy, mouthwatering hot sauce,

86 | OCTOBER 2018

tasting irresistible while the spicy seafood Pad Kee Mau spaghetti (B340) combines a modern Thai twist with International cuisine perfectly. For something more substantial, have a Mixed Grill (B840), the sensational Lebaneseinspired combo comprises of Kabab, Shish Taouk—marinated boneless chicken breast—and lamb chop, chicken wings with lamb tenderloin which are mildly gamey and earthy in flavour. I was pleasantly surprised by the thick creamy garlic sauce, bursting with aromatic flavour and also glutenfree friendly. Next up was a homemade Hummus (B160), silky mashed chickpeas with imported sesame seed paste from Africa, accompanied with homemade naan bread. It is remarkably smooth and incredibly tasty. This could be my new favourite Lebanese place. Always leave room for a dessert, and try Mango

Cheesecake (B260) to pamper your sweet tooth. Once you are done, let’s explore some more highlights. The brand new Chocolate Bar where master mixologists creates exclusively fun cocktails and mocktails to upscale your drinking journey. The whole chocolate menu is produced by the master mixologist Narn Ketderm who has brought his alcohol expertise to match with the fine grade of Swiss Chocolate. Choco Castro (B360) is a must-try drink. The Baileys Irish cream combines melted chocolate in one delicious cocktail to boost up your fun time, and tastes even better than it looks. In this new bar experience, you can select the percentage of cocoa you like. If you prefer something like fruity summer drinks, Brody (B260) is probably your best choice. It is fresh and delicious with the combination of Baileys Irish cream, white chocolate and strawberry sauce. I would recommend this one to my lady friends. This spot in Sukhumvit is the kind of place you will want to come back to time and again. If you are looking for a new and exciting menu that’s both fun and sophisticated, the Lelawadee and Chocolate Bar will fulfil all your wishes and make you want to return for more. by Wattanaporn Sodasoi


Sukhumvit Soi 15, Sukhumvit Rd Tel: 02 119 3100 Open: Daily, 6pm-11pm bangkok/bangkok/restaurants/lelawadee

review | FOOD & DRINK

Tables Grill

Classic techniques elevate this dining institute to new, modern heights.


ables Grill is your stylish grandmother, the one who knows how to grow old gracefully. Has she surrendered to the passage of time? Has she heck! She’s a hip-shacking’, bodypoppin’, granny of reinvention. Tables, now in its eighth year, is the same. It has been many things, with the Hyatt operating a restaurant in the space for over 26 years. It has been bang on trend and it has been a survivor and now, through an acute understanding of the essentials, it is the best kind of institution. The restaurant has appointed a new French chef, Hans Zahner, who spent three years at Sir Elly’s at The Peninsula Shanghai and worked under Alain Ducasse at the Plaza Athénée Hotel in Paris. Here is a chef classically schooled and rooted in the French tradition, who I’m sure has one eye on the greatest of French culinary prizes: a precious Michelin star. Chef Han’s first order was to completely overhaul the menu, creating a new à la carte along with 5-course (B2,900) and 7-course (B3,900) degustation menus, geared around all of the guff of French culinary flair, testing boundaries in a city primed and ready to consume everything. I find it an atmoshperically moody, but ultimately comfortable room. My food was brought to the table by Daria, the Russian front of house plucked straight from the pages of Vogue. A David Hervé Boudeuse Oyster—French, of course, from CharenteMaritime, between Bordeaux and Marans—sits on a vibrant blue bed of something, I’m not sure what, the colour of blue mouthwash.

Two-minute dots of lemongrass and Granny Smith apple jelly on top of the mollusc add a piquant ThaiAussie sweetness that elevated the ‘sulky’ oyster. There’s a Brittany Royal Sea Bass Tartare, perfectly crowned with Kristal Caviar—from Daria’s hometown—and a healthy glug of Moulin du Calanquet Olive Oil from Saint-Rémy de Provence. The quality and preparation of the bass and caviar is first-rate, a generous portion of unctuous bass; so good that it didn’t need the accompanying puddle of carrot jelly and orange coulis. It’s a dish that pairs particularly well with a glass of Anne-Sophie Dubois Beaujolais (B479), and goes even better with a third. And then came a moment that transported the whole of dinner to a different plane. A plate of Alaskan King Crab with dried tomato and coriander in a Thai Red Curry and Galangal Emulsion. Galangal—a type of underground creeping stem of a plant, part of the ginger family—is a masterful marriage, adding

earthiness and a kick of heat from added green tabasco. Followed by a tenderloin of Roasted Australian Lamb that’s perfectly pink, as tender and juicy as a lover’s thigh. I’d like to see more modern plating and less foams and spirals, letting the quality of the produce speak for itself; but minimalism has never been very French. Thankfully though, cheese is. I usually think supplements on prix-fixe menus are sneaky, but when an extra B420 delivers cheese of this quality— three-year Comté, Mont Ventoux and a Époisses de Bourgogn so good, so gooey, so pungent on the fork—it’s hard to complain. I indulge fully, ravenously and without apology, before concluding with a very fine Lemon & Rhubarb Sorbet. by David J. Constable

Tables Grill

Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok, 494 Rajdamri Rd Tel: 02 254 6250 Open: Mon-Sun, 6pm-10pm OCTOBER 2018 | 87

FOOD & DRINK | review

The Reflexions

Savour the taste of luxurious modern French cuisine in the heart of Bangkok. Jamon Iberian Ham. I was told to taste the freshness of the Heirloom Tomato Salad and follow with a salty and creamy flavour of ham topped on crispy bread. Next, was my favourite dish, the Boston Lobster. Here is a lobster cooked with roasted baby carrot, pumpkin and orange, paired with Spanish white wine. The mild flavours of every ingredient doing their job perfectly, allowing the taste of the main ingredient to shine. Then, Dover Sole, a turbot fish cooked with green asparagus, potato and spinach along with beurre blanc sauce paired with chardonnay white wine. The taste is a profoundly sophisticated delight while other ingredients complete the dish with its unique salty and creamy flavour. Then t’s never easy to pick the jubilant music—he also played me comes the highlight plate: Lamb, best fine dining restaurant in Ariana Grande’s songs! cooked medium-rare and served Bangkok, especially when the I sat in the perfect seat where with Jerusalem artichoke, black conversation is about restaurants I could observe every inch of the olive with lamb sauce, beautifully in Ploenchit, an area in downtown. restaurant. I couldn’t help but feel presented in a large white dish. Here, numerous high-rise towers overwhelmed by the atmosphere. Wrapping up this course with the stand prodigiously and there are My eyes kept scrolling up and most refreshing Strawberry and endless options, but let me offer down the menu, which is separated Yogurt, a fairytale-looking dessert. you one. into 4-course, 6-course or 8-course After a memorable meal Located on the third floor of options, all with wine parings. and evening, I slip away into the The Athenee Hotel, The Reflexions I choose the 6-course night. This really is where cuisine restaurant offers a truly special (B3100++), but first, there’s meets art, offering a genuinely experience for those who seek a a signature drink: “Flower magical food experience along restaurant where you can savour Old Fashion”, with gin, mint, with a fantastic ambience. I can’t the subtleties of French modern lemongrass, elderflower and recommend it highly enough. cuisine. Created by Chef Roxanne sparkling wine. Then, comes the by Anansit Sangsawang Lange, who worked with the first dish: a David Herve Oyster, a legendary, Chef Hank Salvalberg, big specimen with fennel, caviar The Reflexions the menu is a sheer joy. and celery juice presented in a 3F, The Athénée Hotel, 61 Witthayu Rd Upon arrival, I am taken in by big bowl with smoke effects, and the restaurant’s ambience and paired with Italian white wine. The Tel: 02 650 8800 ext 4338 decoration; a stretch-window clever combination of ingredients Open: Daily, Lunch: 11:30am-2pm, Dinner 6pm-10:15pm allows in light while my hearing went perfectly well with the caught by the enchanting quality oyster. the-athenee-hotel-a-luxury-collectionmelodies of French pianist, Jean Another exciting duo soon hotel-bangkok Francois, who fills the air with his arrives, this time of Salad and


88 | OCTOBER 2018

review | FOOD & DRINK

Tapas Vino

A lively dining restaurant and a perfect fit for both family and friends.


o, there’s this little place I love in Asoke. I sneak off there during breaks and days off for refreshing drinks and fantastic meals. And now I’m going to share it with you. Located on the second floor of the Pullman Grande Sukhumvit, this hidden gem is… Tapas Vino. The Spanish restaurant shines its warming, bright scarlet light in enigmatic Spanish ambience among all customers who visit. There’s an impressive Spanish chandelier which utterly completes its Spanish vibes, along with a long brass bar to the one side of the room and a glass wall full of wine bottles. It fits around 40 people and there’s an open kitchen so you can peek in and see the magic happening. It really is: “from fine dining to fun dining”. The sharing concept restaurant serves you various type of tapas, cheeses, charcuteries, steaks and plates of seafood as well as fine wines. There’re plenty of menus such as Italian, Spanish and French which all seem to be getting along together, but this really is a “Tapas” joint at heart. I often start with Sangria (B240), a red wine mix with orange and apple, which I highly recommend because it’s goes so perfectly well with everything on the menu. Then comes some complimentary Black & White Bread, black thick and round baked bread served with garlic and special sauces. My recommendation would be to mash in the garlic and enjoy the bread that way. Gosh, it’s good! Big and beautiful Tiger Prawns (B390) come grilled and are best tackled with your fingers,

getting stuck right in. Also, try the Signature Charcuteries (B650) for an impressive selection of cold cuts and with cheeses. The Grilled Beef Tomahawk is a pricey selection (B3,900), but ohhhhh, so good and arrives medium rare, to which I tuck into alongside some sweet fried onions. And there’s more… Pan Seared Cod (B640) is my absolute favourite; an enormous piece of codfish grilled and served with wonderful fried asparagus. And, of course, you can’t visit a tapas restaurant without sampling the Seafood Paella (B890), that well known Spanish rice dish cooked with seafood and served in a big, sharing pan. Oh boy! Like I said, this place is not just a restaurant, but it’s where you can enjoy every moment with your your friends or your family, ordering – and over ordering –

and sharing plates together. Sit in comfort and class and absorb the Spanish vibes. Order the Sangria pitcher, or several of them, and have a delicious and merry old time! Helpfully located within a few minutes walking distance from both MRT Sukhumvit and BTS Asoke, Tapas Vino is easily acceptable, so there’s no excuse. This is a real gem. The perfect hangout. Great food, great vibes, and all at reasonable prices. What more to life is there? by Anansit Sangsawang

Tapas Vino at Pullman Grande Sukhumvit

30 Sukhumvit 21 Asoke Rd Tel: 02 204 407 Open: Daily, 6pm-11pm www.pullmanbangkokgrandesukhumvit. com/restaurants-bars/spanishrestaurant-bangkok OCTOBER 2018 | 89

“The Soul of Lugana and the Heart of Valpolicella”

The heart and soul of Zenato lies in the ancient morainic lands of Lugana and Valpolicella, with their mild climate and unrivalled charm, that overlook the Veneto shore of Lake Garda. The vineyards cover 75 hectares in the Zenato estate of S. Cristina in San Benedetto di Lugana, ideal for the Trebbiano di Lugana, and in the Costalunga estate in Valpolicella, the homeland of the famous Amarone Zenato, where the renowned vines Corvina, Rondinella and Oseleta are cultivated. It was in 1960 that the young Sergio Zenato saw the enormous potential of the native vine Trebbiano di Lugana. He decided to concentrate on this vine, at a time when no one believed in it, betting everything on its still unexpressed potential. So it was that Lugana became a great white wine, with that special dignity that won it recognition as a “DOC”, a wine with protected designation of origin status. Zenato wines are exclusively distributed to the best five stars hotels and fine dining restaurants in Thailand by G Four Fine Wines & Spirits

Italian-born Marco Milani joined Zenato in 2013, upon which he was tasked with the market development in mainland China from ground-zero up. He rebuilt the commercial strategy in the market, where the Zenato brand already presents, and supports other consolidated markets such as Japan, Thailand and Singapore. Marco recently presented Zenato Lugana San Benedetto DOC 2016, Zenato Bardolino Chiaretto Rose DOC 2016, Zenato Ripassa Valpolicella Superiore DOC 2014 and Zenato Amaraone della Valpolicella Classico DOCG 2011 during the 19th World Gourmet Festival, to accompany dinners by Michelin-starred Italian chefs, Alessandra del Favero and Oliver Piras.

28B Skulthai Surawong Tower, 141/42 Surawong Road, Bangkok, THAILAND Tel: 02 237 9831-6 |,,

FOOD & DRINK | breaking bread presented by sanpellegrino


Breaking Bread

with Nikolas Ramirez


A nomad chef finds his calling in the kitchens of Bangkok’s CHAR.

t’s not been what you’d call a conventional journey to the kitchen for Nikolas Ramirez. Like every chef’s training, there have been highs and lows, challenges along the way and career shifts and diversions. But none of these might be what you’d expect, with Chef Nikolas having adopted numerous roles across numerous international

92 | OCTOBER 2018

sojourns, a talented Mr. Ripley of the culinary sphere. There was the childhood growing up in Hawaii and schooling in California. Oh, and the stint as a professional footballer in Romania, living beneath the stadium and cooking meals from a single stove. Then, California came calling again, and it was back to the US for a job offer in the

carpeted-hillsides and sun-dappled vineyards of Napa’s Wine Country. Not a bad working environment, post-penurious living in Romania. Then Asia. First Bangkok, then farm-sitting in Japan with his girlfriend, before returning to Bangkok to work for Gaggan Anand within the Creative Development team at the muchlauded restaurant, and then to

breaking bread presented by sanpellegrino | FOOD & DRINK

22 Kitchen & Bar at Dusit Thani Bangkok. “I was just grafting away, at football, at cooking, taking anything and everything in,” says Chef Nikolas. “Moving to Romania with my buddy from America was epic, I wouldn’t change that, but the opportunity to work, cook and experience the kitchens of California and Asia was something I couldn’t refuse.” There’s still the beach-bum vernacular present in Chef Nikolas’ speech, still the glint in the eyes of that little boy who grew up on the beaches of Hawaii. When he speaks about life’s journey and the road that has led him to Bangkok, he speaks with an epicurean’s devotion, keen to explore and gain knowledge along the way, eating and cooking his way around the globe. “I created “the laws of stress and nervousness”, so basically if you feel these emotions when cooking, you’ve failed. It’s important to be happy and not be taken out of that moment.” At 21 years-old, having graduated from Santa Barbara City Collage CA in Culinary Arts, Chef Nikolas moved into the demanding kitchens of fine dining restaurants and vineyard estates across California’s Wine Country, cutting

his teeth under the fiery guidance of classically-trained, seasoned chefs. He worked at notable restaurants, including Wine Cask in Santa Barbara, as Chef de Cuisine. Expectations were high and during his first service he was shunted to the pass, learning on the job at pace with little room for error. “The entire experience was fast-paced and relentless. I was learning as I went, taking it all in,” he recalls. “I remember other young chefs complaining and leaving, and before long, I was the last man standing.” Keen to further his experience and approach a new challenge, Chef Nikolas and his girlfriend agreed to move to Thailand. He worked firstly at Gaggan and then moved to 22 Kitchen & Bar at Dusit Thani Bangkok, producing mostly “Pacific Coastal” food which celebrated his American up-bringing and the very best in produce from Thailand. After an offer to farm-sit and manage a yuzu farm in Japan came up, it seemed like another opportunity to travel and experience others lands and cultures. “Japan really opened my eyes to the seasons. The ingredients are of such high quality there and there’s a real knowledge and respect for the land.”

Recently appointed as Chef de Cuisine of CHAR Restaurant and Rooftop Bar in Bangkok, Chef Nikolas has given the menu a full overhaul, making primary use of the kitchen’s Josper Grill and implementing an elemental cooking style, without restrained use of garnishes so that the ingredient itself is highlighted for its freshness and quality. “I wanted to reflect the products of Thailand,” he explains. “There are small plates like spicy tuna tartare with fermented chilli paste, and crispy crab cake with marinated fennel, and then sharing plates and options from the Josper. It’s simple food, but researched and prepared in a caring and contemporary way.” You’ll not find much else like this in Bangkok, with a menu rooted in West Coast US, Hawaii and Mexican influences, blended skilfully with the best in local Thai produce. In all, it’s a clever and cunning pairing; cooked with a nomad’s touch and enthusiasm evident throughout. “It’s about being happy in the moment,” says Chef Nikolas. “For me, true happiness and cooking are the same.” interview by David J. Constable OCTOBER 2018 | 93

FOOD & DRINK | listings


Shang Palace

Bai Yun

The Chinese outlet with the best view in town, and one of the highest representatives of Pearl Delta cuisine on the planet, offers highquality ingredients you can really savour. 59F, Banyan Tree Bangkok 21/100 South Sathorn Rd. Tel: 02 679 1200 Open daily: 11:30am-2:30pm

Pagoda Chinese Restaurant

This upscale venue serves traditional Cantonese cuisine in a spacious, contemporary setting. The menu focuses on healthy dishes, while ensuring that the flavours and authenticity are retained. 4F, Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park Hotel 199, Sukhumvit Soi 22 Tel: 02 059 5999 Open daily: 11:30am-2:30pm, 6pm-10pm

The interior is elegant, but more importantly, the food is a glowing reminder of how Chinese food should be executed and presented. The dim sum is the obvious place to start, and the signature dishes are serious standouts. 3F, Shangri-La Hotel 89 Soi Wat Suan Plu, New Road Tel: 02 236 7777 Open daily: 6pm-10:30pm, Mon-Sat, 11:30am-2:30pm, Sun, 11am-3pm

FRENCH J’Aime by Jean-Michel Lorain

This Michelin-starred restaurant’s classic French haute cuisine definitely lives up to its lofty expectations, even rising above, thanks to the vibrancy in taste and colour of the dishes. You’ll no doubt find yourself thinking about

certain menu items well into the next day. U Sathorn Bangkok 105, 105/1 Soi Ngam Duphli Tel: 02 119 4899 Open daily: 12pm-2:30pm, 6pm-10:30pm

Le Boeuf

The concept here is simple: highquality steak, liberally doused with a unique peagreen sauce, paired with an unlimited supply of crispy pommes frites and fresh salad. French to the core. GF, Marriott Executive Apartments Mayfair, 60 Soi Langsuan Tel: 02 672 12 30 Open daily: 11:30am-11pm


An ambitious venture in modern Indian cuisine, featuring a lighter

Your Thai Culinary Ambassador Since


Bangkok - Phuket

Pink Ribbon Menu

Enhance your body’s defences & support the Queen Sirikit Centre for Breast Cancer 94 | OCTOBER 2018

listings | FOOD & DRINK menu that still delivers the punch people expect, while dialling down the stodge and oiliness; a riff on Indian-Chinese—or Himalayan— combinations. 71, Sukhumvit Soi 26 Tel: 02 258 4900 Open daily: 11:30am-2:30pm, 6pm-midnight

consistently ranked among the top restaurants in Asia and serves quite possibly the best steak in town. Trust us! Soi Pipat 2, Silom Rd. Tel: 02 238 0931 Open daily: 3pm-1am

favourites to tempt every palate for every occasion. 137 Pillars Suites & Residences Bangkok 59/1 Sukhumvit Soi 39 Open: Daily 12pm-3pm, 6pm-10:30pm Tel: 02 079 7000


By fusing Eastern flavours with Western techniques, this high-altitude restaurant has become a haven for fine dining. Ask about the chef’s amazing signature tasting menus. 29F, SO Sofitel Bangkok 2 North Sathorn Rd. Open daily: 6pm-10:30pm Tel: 02 624 0000

This Michelin-starred restaurant expertly fuses Japanese and French Gaggan culinary aesthetics, flavours, and A must-visit for foodies, this progressive, molecular Indian cuisine precision, in a retro-futuristic space that feels like a home study but has resto has been voted number one the theatricality of a playhouse. for four consecutive years—2015 Meanwhile, views of Bangkok’s to 2017—on the Asia’s 50 Best downtown cityscape can be enjoyed Restaurants list, and now it has 2 from the restaurant’s open-air deck. Michelin stars to its name. Try one of the recommended tasting menus. 25F, The Okura Prestige Bangkok 57 Wireless Rd. 68/1 Soi Langsuan Open daily: 6pm-10:30pm Tel: 02 652 1700 Tel: 02 687 9000 Open daily: 6pm-11pm


The Dining Room

The Dining Room at The House on Sathorn

Few restaurant settings in the city rival this charming colonial-era mansion where Turkish native Chef Fatih Tutak keeps things rooted in the Ottoman canon, experimenting with tastes, textures, and temperatures in a 10-course—although expect more—tasting menu. W Bangkok, 106 North Sathorn Rd. Tel: 02 344 4025 Open daily: 6pm-10:30pm

Eat Me

Run by the always innovative Tim Butler, this cozy Silom restaurant is

Park Society

Latest Recipe

A new upscale brunch offering from the signature restaurant in the Le Méridien offers a delicious and indulgent approach to wining and dining. The Medittarean-inpsired “La Docle Vita” Lifestyle Buffet offers an eclectic mix of cuisines across various stations, with fresh seafood, made-to-order pasta, and free-flow wine and champagne options. 1F, Le Méridien Bangkok 40/5, Surawong Rd. Open daily: Mon-Sat, 12pm-2:30pm, 6:30pm-9:30pm, Sun, 12pm-4pm Tel: 02 232 8888


“Oriental Cuisine” inspired by a responsible gourmand chef on the 27th floor of the luxurious 137 Pillars Suites & Residences. This beautiful restaurant has an outstanding setting and prepares wonderfully fresh plates with an Oriental leaning. Choose from the likes of Chilli Crab, Szechuan Rock Lobster, Beef Massaman, Scallops and Abalone Sashimi, Teriyaki Pork Belly and a plethora of traditional

Red Oven

Red Oven

Styled as a ‘World Food Market’, this all-day dining venue puts a contemporary twist on buffet spreads. And on weekends, the restaurant offers an irresistable scrumptious, free-flow wine brunch buffet. 7F, SO Sofitel Bangkok 2 North Sathorn Rd. Tel: 02 624 0000 Open daily: 6:30pm-10:30pm, Sat-Sun Wine Brunch, noon-3pm

The Penthouse Bar & Grill

With a design concept that conjures up the fictional penthouse abode of a jetsetting adventurer, the open grill kitchen at this stunning restaurant space and cocktail bar dishes up succulent steaks and other meaty morsels. It’s also home to what has to be the coolest looking whisky room in the city. OCTOBER 2018 | 95

FOOD & DRINK | listings 34-36F, Park Hyatt Bangkok 88 Wireless Rd. Open daily: 5:30pm-midnight Tel: 02 012 1234

Tables Grill

The award-winning restaurant features prime-cut steaks and sustainably sourced seafood in an elegantly unique setting that offers a fresh take on à la minute dining. Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel 494 Rajdamri Rd. Tel: 02 254 6250 Open: Mon-Sat, 11:30am-2:30pm, 6:30pm-10pm, Sunday Brunch: 11am3pm

Up & Above

This elegant 24th floor restaurant has fine dining down, but it also boasts a brunch to rival all others—delivering a buffet of luxurious proportions. 24F, Okura Prestige Bangkok 57 Witthayu Rd. Tel: 02 687 9000 Open daily: noon-10:30pm Sunday Brunch: noon-3pm

Vertigo Too Bar & Restaurant

Neither an open-air rooftop bar, nor the kind of jazz den found in smoky

brickwalled basements, the al-fresco Vertigo Too deftly toes the line between the two milieus. 60F, Banyan Tree Bangkok 21/100 South Sathorn Rd. Tel: 02 679 1200 Opem daily: 5pm-1am


to visit this new truffle-centric restaurant. 39F, Sathorn Square 98 North Sathorn Rd. Open: Mon-Fri, 11am-11pm, Sat, 6pm-11pm Tel: 02 233 1990




Located on the 39th floor of Sathorn Tower, this fine dining Italian restaurant boasts an impressive truffle selection and pride themselves as the world’s numberone truffle dealer. A multitude of options all burst with truffle, from creamy Tagliatelle Carbonara to a White Truffle Tirimasu. Two set dinner menus help guests with truffle options and a very reasonable set lunch menu (B590 for 3 courses) means that there’s no excuse not

Combining a modern mastery of time-honoured customs in a stylish and convivial setting, this is one of the top places for outstanding Japanese cuisine in Bangkok. 8F, The Westin Grande Sukhumvit Bangkok, 259, Sukhumvit Soi 19 Tel: 02 207 8000 Open daily: 12pm-2:30pm, 6pm-10:30pm

SPANISH Broken Eggs

An Ekkamai classic (after relocating from Phra Khanong’s W District) serving up tapas-dining feasts with an impressive wine and cocktail list to boot! Expect freshly prepared dishes, high on flavour, that celebrate the food of Galicia; such as Garlic Shrimps, Thai Burrata

Trattoria Pizzeria Il Bolognese

LOCATION 139/3 SOUTH SATHORN SOI 7 BANGKOK 10120 THAILAND OPEN EVERYDAY 11:30AM - 14:30PM 17:30PM - 23:00PM CONTACT T: 02 286 8805 E: trattoria.pizzeria.ilbolognese @ilbolognesebangkok 96 | OCTOBER 2018

listings | FOOD & DRINK topped with Raspberries & Pistachio, and some truly outstanding crispy Iberico Ham Croquettes. 112/7 Ekkamai Rd (Sukhumvit Soi 63) 02 047 7811 Open: Tue-Sat 5pm-11.30pm, Sun 12-4pm

items from the hotel’s awardwinning Saffron restaurant. Kick back and eat in style, high above the city, at Saffron. 52F, Banyan Tree Bangkok 21/100 South Sathorn Rd. Open daily: 5pm-1am Tel: 02 679 1200

THAI Blue Elephant

A wildly successful brand since it was first established in 1980, this restaurant (and cooking school) sits in a gorgeous historic mansion. On the menu, Chef Nooror takes a riff on the Thai food of tomorrow, but also shares her heritage with every dish. 233 South Sathorn Rd. Tel: 02 673 9353 Open daily: 11:30am-2:30pm, 6:30pm-10:30pm

Sala Rim Naam

Sala Rim Naam

Exquisite and authentic Thai cuisine served in a beautiful colonial pavilion, built in the traditional Northern Thai style. There’s enough seating to comfortably accommodate up to 170 guests in this spacious riverside setting. The Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok 48 Oriental Ave. Tel: 02 659 9000 Open daily: 5pm-midnight

Ruen Urai

Ruen Urai

Set in the former residence of the herbal medical doctor to King Rama V, Ruen Urai uses herbs and spices with medicinal qualities, while delivering refined Thai fare made from the finest fresh ingredients. The Rose Hotel, 118 Surawongse Rd. Tel: 02 266 8268-72 Open daily: noon-11pm

Saffron Sky Garden

This “garden in the sky” offers stunning vistas overlooking almost all angles of Bangkok. Large bed-like grey lounge chairs adorned with bright coloured pillows provide the perfect spot to lay back and unwind while sampling the Thai tapas menu

CAFÉ The Chocolate Boutique With a clear and strong focus on natural quality ingredients and old world craftsmanship, this chocolate café, cake, and sweet shop exudes sense of playful experimentation from the moment you begin browsing the menu. GF, Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok 89 Soi Wat Suan Plu Tel: 02 236 7777 Open daily: 8am-11pm

Kiosk Café

Located in The Barkyard Bangkok Complex, this dog-friendly boite is a fetching choice for an exceptional

meal, a friendly cakeand-chat, or a delicious hot coffee. 65, Sukhumvit Soi 26 Tel: 02 259 4089 Open: Tue-Thu, 10:30am-9pm, Fri-Sun, 10:30am-11pm

Sift Bakery

Furnished with large floor-to-ceiling windows, and a counter displaying an assortment of desserts and pastries, diners at this café can enjoy their orders in a spacious upstairs and downstairs seating area. GF, Amaranta Hotel Pracharatbumpen Soi 7 Open: Wed-Mon, 11am-10pm Tel: 02 691 1688


Broccoli Revolution

Broccoli Revolution

This veg-friendly restaurant features a menu full of bright veggie bites that could pull in even the most stubborn carnivore. Now with two locations. 899 Sukhumvit Rd (at Soi 49) Tel: 02 662 5001 6F, Central Embassy, Tel: 02 160 5788 Facebook: Broccoli Revolution

Veganerie Concept

The modern-rustic interior is flooded with natural light, and the fare— from tantalizing dairy-free bakery desserts to vegan appetizers and main courses—is pretty “natural” as well. 35/2 Soi Methiniwet (Sukhumvit Soi 24) Tel: 02 258 8489 Open: Fri-Wed, 10am-10pm facebook: Vegan Bakery Bangkok OCTOBER 2018 | 97

FOOD & DRINK | meal deals

Vegetarian Food Festival at The World Restaurant

Centara Grand & Bangkok Convention Centre at CentralWorld, 999/99 Rama 1 Rd. Tel: 02 100 6255 | Get together with friends and family and start the vegetarian festival with The World restaurant who is marking this year’s Vegetarian Festival in Thailand with a special 9-day Vegetarian Feast with special menu items being served in our 24th floor venue of Centara Grand & Bangkok Convention Centre at CentralWorld with its stunning views. Available from October 9th-17th, with prices starting from just THB 180++ per dish, (plus government tax and service charges). For more information or to make reservations, please call 02 100 6255 or email:

All-You-Can-Eat Prawns

Citi BiSTRo: Ground Floor of Pathumwan Princess Hotel, 444 MBK Center Tel: 02 216 3700 | This October is the Pathumwan Princess Hotel’s 22nd Hotel anniversary and Citi Bistro is celebrating in style by procuring an abundance of very large and succulent prawns. Every Friday and Saturday you can enjoy them at the restaurant’s all-you-can-eat sumptuous Buffet Dinner. Furthermore, all the traditional favourites will be there too, including seafood on ice, beef, pork, salmon, authentic Thai dishes, a tempting desserts corner and much more. All this for just THB 1,690 nett per person (children half price). For more information, contact 02 216 3700 ext. 20100 or email

Italian White Truffles at Elements Restaurant

The Okura Prestige Bangkok, 57 Wireless Rd. Tel: 02 687 9000 | Italian white truffle season has arrived and the talented chefs at Michelin-starred Elements restaurant at The Okura Prestige Bangkok are serving up wonderful dishes featuring the ‘diamond of the kitchen’ using French culinary techniques with Japanese twists. Servers will also be on hand to present truffles and offer shavings of the precious fungi to diners at table-side. The menus are at the market price, available every Tuesday – Saturday from October 16thDecember 1st, 6pm-10:30pm. Contact 02 687 9000 or book on the website

Ravishing Donburi Japanese Rice Bowl & Sushi Recipes

The Athenee Hotel, 61 wireless Rd. (witthayu) Tel: 02 650 8800 | Utage, a Japanese restaurant at The Athenee Hotel Bangkok is renowned for dishing up authentic in-season flavours of Japan. Now comes an appetizing new innovation along these lines: “Sushi Donburi” a la carte menu, available throughout October. The possibilities of Japanese rice bowl “donburi” cuisine are endless and specialist Head Chef Samart and his team are inspired by them. Focusing on donburi’s symbiotic relationship with seafood, Utage brings ocean-fresh influences to the heart-warming Japanese rice soup. Call 02 650 8800 or visit:

Your Sunday Best: Sunday Brunch at Atelier

Pullman Bangkok Grande Sukhumvit, 30 Sukhumvit 21 (Asoke) Rd. Tel: 204 4015 | Make the best of Sunday brunch at Atelier, Pullmann BKK Grande, with menu highlights including seafood on ice with king crab, snow crab, oyster, mussel and shrimp, along with grilled seafood specialties. For dessert, there’s a chocolate fountain, crêpe Suzette, Thai sweets and much more. Sunday brunch is special for children too, with a kids’ corner featuring a magician and balloon clown. Available every Sunday from 12:00-3pm at THB 1,899++ per person including free flow soft drinks. Call 02 204 4071 or visit sunday-brunch-buffet-promotion 98 | OCTOBER 2018



de to i u You G



G K O K’ S



Art S

ce n e



Dutch singing sensation, Athalie de Koning, at The St. Regis Bar, part of the “Best in Jazz� music series


Spectacular views and sensational sips

Zoom up to the 26th floor and unwind with a timeless vintage cocktail under the stars at CHAR Rooftop Bar. Crafted by gifted bartenders, every drink awakens the senses. Enjoy the vibrant social scene and breathtaking views of the Bangkok skyline. Savour revamped classic concoctions while the DJs play a fun mixture of lounge music, downtempo and electro. With a retractable rooftop and refreshing drinks, CHAR is a go-to spot to kick-start a good night out. For more information please email: or call 02 207 4999.

Throttle arrives in Bangkok with his unique blend of electronic sounds Already labeled as the next big thing in electronic music, Throttle has collaborated with the likes of Galantis, Oliver Heldens and officially remixed for Ed Sheeran before his performance at the world famous Tomorrowland festival earlier this year. Using a unique blend of organic and electronic sounds, he puts his own unique stamp on every production. Throttle isn’t about what’s trending now, but what’s cool indefinitely. Catch him live for the first time in Thailand at Levels on Thursday 4th October 2018. Entry tickets cost B300 for men and B200 for ladies (includes a drink).

Jazz Diva, Athalie, at The St. Regis Bar Dutch singing sensation, Athalie shares her upbeat passion for jazz, the world over. For three consecutive years, she has featured in Thailand Tatler’s Top 300 List, as a leading expat in the arts. Athalie has also worked for the Royal Thai Family several times, and had the honour of performing for Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, at the Forever 48 concert. She performs every Thursday night at The St. Regis Bar as part of the “Best in Jazz” music series, from 8pm to 11pm.

a new stylish offering available at small As if the entertainment offering wasn’t already impressive enough at Smalls, now the iconic Bangkok drinking den have added cigars to their offering. Self-described as “Your moody multi-level neighbour bar with a retro feel; featuring quality music, modern art, late night dining and no-nonsense pours of serious alcohol,” Smalls is a city institution who now, along with famed cocktails and an expansive and impressive offering of Absinthe, offers customers the opportunity to purchase on-site cigars, to be enjoyed outside or on the bar’s hip rooftop space. Call 095 585 1398 or email

OCTOBER 2018 | 101

NIGHTLIFE | special

Beer Belly serves up food, fun and cold ones

with a great deal during Oktoberfest Oktoberfest is approaching! It’s a ritual for Beer Belly to host the Oktoberfest event with a special deal that beer lovers couldn’t deny!


rom September 21st -October 7th, they will offer “ALL GERMAN BEERS: BUY 1 GET 1 FREE deal” so you can choose from 3 best German beers such as Paulaner (Dunkel) B360, Weihenstephaner (Original/Vitus) B330/B370 and Erdinger (Weißbier) B330. Cold beers and Hotdog? Yes please! You can choose from the new Mixed Premium Sausage Platter (smoke/spicy/fresh pork) B390 to the 3 new hot dogs with fries such as Original Currywurst Hotdog B260/Japanese Hotdog B330/ Larb Hotdog B300. Drinking beers wouldn’t be fun without a drinking game! During Oktoberfest, you can play Beer Pong/Pong Connect/Flip Cup every day and

102 | OCTOBER 2018

be prepared for Beer Chug Challenge every Friday and Saturday, just buy a pint of German beer and you can sign up for the game. All participants/ teams will stand a chance to win a 3L of German beer of choice. Ask Beer Belly staff for more information!

Beer Belly

72 Courtyard FL G, 72 Sukhumvit Soi 55 Thonglor Te: 02 392 7770, 095 124 4992 Open: Everyday 5pm-Till Late. Email:

special interview | NIGHTLIFE

Can you introduce yourself. My name is Pokpathom Nukhao or DJ SoShine. I first got into Thailand’s DJ industry in 2008 and started off by entering a competition. I graduated from UTCC (The University of The Thai Chamber of Commerce) with a Degree in Bachelor of Communication Art (Broadcasting) Then another two years in Bangkok’s DJ school. Now I mix at Stranger Bar, every Thursday and Sunday night.

Photo: Teeradech Chaybenjaparang

DJ SoShine Pokpathom Nukhao to, and how did it lead you to The House? Lots of late 80’s, 90’s R&B, some disco and many Motown artists. I first learned about disco and house music from my childhood Bangkok nightlife such as Telephone Bar, Silom Soi 2 Alley and more like Bangkok old school’s scene in the 90’s.

During your career you’ve built up an incredible friendship with Famous Drag queen like Zymone or Pangina Heals and have How did you end up becoming become her go-to DJ. What’s it a DJ? like to have the seal of approval After the competitions, I won MBK How was Bangkok Nightlife in from such a music icon? past five years and where do you It’s overwhelming to think about DJ Music Award then I started see it going? work at Baiyoke tower as a DJ working with her for all these There are still fantastic parties until now. I turned my focus to years. It’s an experience that I going on every single day and producing my own tracks, but have a hard time putting into night. I don’t listen and pay there wasn’t anything special words. She constantly innovates, attention to people saying how during that time, not until this entertains, and has paved the way Bangkok was better back in the year when I started work at The for many drags in the industry. day. Yes, everything was better Stranger bar in Silom Soi 4. I love To have the relationship I have because we were younger! People had with her is life-changing and this place, friendly environment still look to Bangkok and are drawn something I will always cherish. (more drags and gay power) and here from all over the world. people liked what I was playing. They have given me many opportunities I may have never How would you describe your own had otherwise. The term EDM is a hot topic music; what is distinct about it? these days with some people claiming there’s a divide between It totally depends on how I setup What’s your creative process like my tracks. For me, I like to focus EDM and The Underground? for you? on underground and more pop/ Not really… More and more I’m No set way. Whether working disco songs like Studio54. Since seeing kids who were at EDM alone or with others, my main I listen to a lot of music, I like to parties now at Underground thought is ‘just do it’ and let it mix them up here and there. The Parties, guys like Richie come naturally. Maybe because reason behind it is because I want I’ve been doing it for so long it’s Hawtin and Marco Carola are people to remember me for my playing Vegas and mainstream easy? I go into a studio and write style. Whenever they hear the commercial venues (and not an idea within an hour–it either sounds of and it will make things getting paid underground works or it doesn’t. You can’t more fun for the crowd as well. money). I think, in time, this will be too hard on yourself–if it’s be less of a debate, and I think not right today, maybe it will be the success of electronic music is Growing up, what types of DJ tomorrow. artists and genres did you listen benefiting all genres. interview by Taylor Ounsiem

OCTOBER 2018 | 103

NIGHTLIFE | review

Sky on 20

A rooftop bar experience of elegance and class.


here is no shortage of rooftop bars in Bangkok, and I believe each rooftop bar has something unique to offer, that is why you should visit as many as possible. This time I had a pleasure to head towards the Sukhumvit neighbourhood. This area is famously known for its vibrant nightlife, and of course, there needs to be a rooftop bar for the visitors and locals to indulge in. Sky on 20 rooftop bar is located on the 26th floor of the Novotel Bangkok Sukhumvit 20. It is not a hidden entrance, but you do take the elevator to the 25th floor, then through a door, which looks like the fire escape, before walking up a small flight of stairs and eventually, out onto the roof. This is not the largest of rooftops, but that’s the intention. They want to keep the party all night vibe down on the street and into the clubs. They keep this venue a simple and elegant space that you can come and enjoy bar bites, an extensive cocktail list, a

104 | OCTOBER 2018

view of Benchakiti Park and across the city. I arrived on the early side. I always like to stake out a front row spot to look out. I chose an oversized couch where myself and my guest had plenty of space to relax. We were quickly greeted by the hospitality team and were introduced to their menu offerings. As we were guided through the menu, it was highly suggested that we try one of the many Signature cocktails and some Signature bar bites. The food menu I learned is going to change next month, but for now, they had the bar classics. I ordered the Crab Bruschetta (B320) which will not change, and has been on the menu from day one. For the cocktail, I went for the “Aloha” vodka, lime and fresh passion fruit (B300). Their cocktail list has an option for everyone, but I did find that they were many gin and vodka creations that stood out. Since I was there early, I had a chance to watch the sunset over

the city. It is not necessarily a clear view of the sun setting, but a view of the colours reflecting off the modern buildings and sky lighting up with that beautiful red, orange and splashes of purple in the sky is a big draw for this bar. My advice, get in early, grab a good seat, and sit back and relax. They do have a resident DJ, Wednesday to Sunday nights. However, I think a highlight of this rooftop is the LIVE music they have on Tuesday nights. LIVE music gives some extra personality to the venue that other rooftops do not have, and with the spectacular view, and a fantastic hospitality team too, Sky on 20 can do no wrong. by Charity Waltenbaugh

Sky on 20

Novotel Bangkok Sukhumvit Soi 20, Sukhumvit Rd Tel: 02 009 4999 Open: Daily, 5pm-1am bangkok-restaurants/sky-on-20

best of bkk

NIGHTLIFE | listings

BAR Bamboo Chic Bar

Explore a selection of signature cocktails, wines, and spirits, while the culinary team prepares a variety of snacks and delicatessen favourites in a contemporary lounge setting. 4F, Le Méridien Bangkok 40/5 Surawong Rd. Open daily 5:30pm-11:30pm Tel: 02 232 8888

Scarlett Wine Bar & Restaurant

This sophisticated (and elevated) drink spot and bistro offers tipplers both a novel-sized wine list, and a host of creative cocktails—many of which make use of in-house infused spirits. 37F, Pullman Hotel Bangkok G Open daily: 6pm-late Tel: 096 860 7990


Decorated with vintage furniture and art, giving it a true bohemian vibe, this well-loved, three-storey The Diplomat Bar neighbourhood drink spot offers a Drop by any night and you’re likely wide selection of beers, wines, and to find suited and booted business hard-to-find liquors, as well as live types chatting over martinis. Dark jazz on Wednesdays. wood touches, soft yellow lighting, and a den-like feel partly account for 186/3, Suan Phlu Soi 1 Tel: 095 585 1398 the bar’s popularity, and from 8pm Open: Wed-Mon, 8:30pm-2am Monday to Thursday (and 8.30pm Friday and Saturday), a talented band entertains with jazz and R&B sounds. Wine Connection 1F, Conrad Bangkok Hotel The Grill 87 Wireless Rd. There are currently 18 Wine Open: Sun-Thu, 7am-1am, Fri-Sat, Connection outlets in Bangkok, 7am-2am however this branch also focusses on Tel: 02 690 9244 grilled meats—especially beef—to be enjoyed with the large selection of reasonably priced wines (available mainly by the bottle, but with some “by the glass” options as well). 1F, The Groove@CentralWorld Open daily: 11am-midnight Tel: 02 613 1037

Riedel Wine Bar & Cellar

Riedel Wine Bar & Cellar

A world-class wine bar that isn’t just all about wine. There’s dozens of vinos to choose from, as well as some exciting options for the non-wine-inclined, while refined, rustic European cuisine is served up tapas-style for social dining. 2F, Gaysorn Plaza, 999 Ploenchit Rd. Tel: 02 656 1133 Open daily: 11am-midnight 106 | OCTOBER 2018


Offering a variety of wines, beers, and artisanal cocktails, with delicious snacks to boot. Plus, one of the best views of the city (day and night). A laid-back bar perfect for unwinding… cocktail in hand. 28F, Hyatt Place Sukhumvit Bangkok 22/5, Sukhumvit Soi 24 Open: Mon-Thu, 5pm-midnight; Fri-Sat, 5pm-1am; Sun, 3pm-11pm Tel: 02-055-1234

Character Whisky & Cigar Bar

Both outlets of this cozy and comfortable smoker’s lounge—one of which doubles as a skybar— serve some of the rarest and finest single malt whiskies from Scotland (and beyond), as well as housing humidors stocked with premium handmade cigars from Cuba, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, and more. Courtyard at Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel, 155 Rajadamri Rd Tel: 02 254 4726 32F, Compass Skyview Hotel 12, Sukhumvit Soi 24, Tel: 02 011 1133

Cielo Sky Bar

Cielo Sky Bar

A rooftop bar, with a business-casual ambiance and unbeatable views of Bangkok, serving a wide-ranging and impressive list of cocktails at fair prices. 46F, Sky Walk Condominium Sukhumvit Soi 69 Tel: 02 348 9100 Open daily: 5pm-1am

CRU Champagne Bar

This high altitude hot spot is owned by G.H. Mumm Champagne brand and offers tipplers dozens of tables, as well as a circle-shaped showpiece bar. If you’re craving bottles of bubbly with a panoramic view, it doesn’t get any better than this. 59F, Centara Grand at CentralWorld 999/99 Rama 1 Rd. Tel: 02 100 1234 Open daily: 5pm-1am

listing | NIGHTLIFE

Moon Bar & Vertigo

The top floors of the Banyan Tree Hotel offer three iconic rooftop spots: Moon Bar, Vertigo, and the 64th floor Vertigo Too. All are perfect spots for a romantic rendezvous. 61/64F, Banyan Tree Bangkok 21/100 South Sathorn Rd. Tel: 02 679 1200 Open daily: 5pm-1am

skyline in an outdoor garden lounge setting. Order anything from a bucket of drinks, to curated cocktails and expertly crafted bites. 36F, Park Hyatt Bangkok 88 Wireless Rd. Open daily: 5:30pm-midnight Tel: 02 012 1234

Octave Rooftop Lounge & Bar Whether you choose the outdoor lounge on the 45th floor or the alfresco bar on the 49th floor, you have breathtaking views in every direction. And those in search of a sundowner should heed the 5pm7pm happy hours, when signature cocktails are half-price. 45-49F, Bangkok Hotel Marriott Sukhumvit, 2, Sukhumvit Soi 57 Open daily: 5pm-2am Tel: 02 797 0000

Zest Bar and Terrace

Zest Bar and Terrace

Recently refurbished, this tippling spot entices guests with an all-new drink menu, featuring expertly crafted cocktails, and a range of gastronomic delights such as beer battered fish and chips. 7F, Westin Grande Sukhumvit, Bangkok 259 Sukhumvit Rd. Tel: 02 207 8000 Open daily: 7am-1am

CLUB Red Sky Bar

Red Sky Bar

One of Bangkok’s most acclaimed rooftop bars—perched dramatically above the heart of the city—offers light bites and signature cocktails. 56F, Centara Grand & Bangkok Convention Centre at CentralWorld 999/99 Rama 1 Rd. Tel: 02 100 6255 Open Daily: 4pm-1am (Happy Hours: 4pm-6pm)

Rooftop Terrace at Penthouse Bar + Grill

This dramatic skybar is the perfect spot to drink in Bangkok’s nighttime


One of the most reliably busy nightclubs in Bangkok that welcomes a mix of resident expats, stylish Thai party animals, and wide-eyed holiday-makers who can’t get enough. 6F, 35, Sukhumvit Soi 11 Tel: 082 308 3246 Open daily: 9pm-2am

Mixx Discotheque

Classier than most of Bangkok’s afterhour dance clubs, the space is a two-room affair—one plays R&B and Hip Hop, the other does Techno & House—decked out with chandeliers, paintings, and billowing sheets.

President Tower Arcade 973 Ploenchit Rd. Tel: 02 656 0382 Open daily: 10pm-late


A small and busy landmark of the East’s past glories that is, nevertheless, romantic and intimate, thanks to the legendary jazz band that plays each night. Ideal for a boozy night out or a romantic special occasion. The Mandarin Oriental Bangkok 48 Oriental Ave (riverfront) Tel: 02 659 9000 Open daily: Sun-Thu, 11am-1am, Fri-Sat, 11am-2am

Maggie Choo’s

Maggie Choo’s

The bar’s attraction is the live jazz music, some of the best the city has to offer. The welcoming atmosphere is amplified with sultry mysticism and redolent of Shanghai’s dandyish early 20th-century gambling dens. GF, Hotel Novotel Fenix, 320 Silom Rd. Tel: 02 635 6055 Open: Tue-Sun, 6pm-2am

The Zuk Bar

An ideal place for aperitifs or after dinner drinks, which can be savoured alongside a selection of tapas menu items. Chill out while admiring the fabulous garden view. The Sukhothai Bangkok 13/3 South Sathorn Rd. Tel: 02 344 8888 Open daily: 5pm-1am OCTOBER 2018 | 107

SIGNING OFF | did you know?

Dining in Bangkok Old City Bangkok grew out from The Grand Palace, the official residence of the Kings of Siam since 1782 and in what is now refereed to as the “Old Town”. Dining in the Old Town is both historical and varied, and aesthetically speaking, it’s one of the most attractive neighbourhoods in Bangkok, as many of the buildings have been preserved as they were a hundred years ago. There are restaurants in old shophouses, like Seven Spoons, or with amazing views over the river towards Wat Arun, such as Arun Residence and Sala Rattanakosin. For a taste of the best local cuisine in a rustic style, try Roti Mataba and Thip Samai Pad Thai, and there’s a whole range of other cuisines here too, with enough variety to find something for everyone, no matter your tastes. Here are a few Bangkok 101 recommended hidden gems…

Steve Cafe and Cuisine: Steve Café

combines several successful key ingredients: A great riverside location with no tall buildings blocking the view, thousands of silver fish swimming around as locals feed them, and a permanent ballet of old-fashioned wooden boats passing by almost silently. The second most important thing is of course the food, very Thai, using quality ingredients and cooked with passion. The menu even says that no dishes are cooked in advance, therefore some dishes can take time to prepare and when the restaurant is full, which is every night, it can be a bit slow.

Seven Spoons: In a cosy double shophouse on a quiet road that visitors don’t really frequent you will find one of the best restaurants 108 | OCTOBER 2018

in Bangkok. Seven Spoons is so popular that it’s recently expanded, but still has the warm atmosphere and large portions of Mediterranean and vegetarian food that regulars are familiar with and first-timers will be excited by. It now opens for lunch and offers sandwiches alongside its hearty mains. The reason behind its expansion is simple; with delicious food and strong cocktails, Seven Spoons is a rare find in the city, a restaurant with real passion and prices so low that you will be doing a double-take when they bring you the bill. Seven Spoons is almost too good to share, and despite its popularity it still feels like a fantastic secret.

Sheepshank Public House:

Sheepshank is hidden down a small alleyway but arrive by river boat and the welcome is warmer, with the restaurant lights shining onto the water (disembark at Phra Arthit Pier, N13). For those who are familiar with American cuisine, there are plenty of comforting dishes on the menu. The food is not only easy on the eye, but it has the kind of spirit and flavour combinations that leaves you feeling happy and satisfied. The restaurant is run by Joke, a chef who seems to have an instinct for what people want. He’s also a bit of an interior designer, taking the abandoned boat shed and turning it into the dining room you see now.

Profile for Talisman Media

Bangkok 101 Magazine October 2018  

Bangkok's leading travel and leisure city guide magazine. Live Like a Local!

Bangkok 101 Magazine October 2018  

Bangkok's leading travel and leisure city guide magazine. Live Like a Local!