Three restaurants– Osha, Abbot, and Moodz – have been added to our list of choices for new high quality dining experiences in Bangkokby Laurence Civil
Three new restaurants opened in Bangkok recently, all reflecting modern dining traditions. Two of them had Californian origins, and one has European foundations, but all contributing significantly to the city’s contemporary dining scene. Osha, from San Francisco, serves authentic Thai taste with a molecular twist. Abbot brings the flavors of Venice Beach from the American “City of Angels” (Los Angeles) to our own “City of Angels” (Bangkok). And last but not least, Moodz gives us modern, comfortable, and chic European-style dishes. What do they have in common? They all offer quality dining experiences.
Osha (99 Wireless Road, 02 256 6555, www.oshabangkok.com )
Osha started in San Francisco in 1996 and is famous for authentic Thai tastes but with a molecular twist. It is one of the best-known ethnic food restaurants in the Bay Area, with nine branches. It came to Bangkok in late 2014, and took up residence in palatial quarters at the junction of Wireless Road and Soi Ruamrudee.
The restaurant’s executive chef, Noom Thaninthom, plates his food with European elegance. But, don’t let the gentility confuse you, because the taste is genuinely authentic, with pronounced chili kicks in the after-taste. Noom, a celebrity chef, is a master of using the right cooking temperature to enhance the flavors of his food. With the exception of certain meats and fish, majority of the ingredients he use are sourced in markets where he can find the best quality. His chili comes from Samporn, salted eggs from Chaiya, organic brown rice from Suphanburi, and Manoi leaves from Nongkhai. The latter he uses to make natural gelatin.
The first appetizer we tasted was poached Andaman oyster with Nha Noi leave foam, which sits elegantly in a pile of pink rock salt sprinkled on a black plate. Effectively styled, it has a great taste to match its unique appearance. Next was the ahi tuna tower, featuring a big-eye tuna tartar that sits neatly on a bed of diced avocado, and sprinkled with Sriracha citrus balsamic and lotus root chips. Again, the elegant presentation hides the volcanic taste within.
His signature appetizer is called Dancing King Prawns, which is a prawn ceviche that sits in the middle of a wafer-thin sliced cucumber and red radish carpaccio with a chili-cilantro granita. This is another great example of how wonderfully executed fine dining touches elevate the simple Thai flavors.
His massaman lamb is a masterpiece. The New Zealand lamb shank is cooked sous vide at a low temperature for 48 hours, and then the deliciously tender meat is served on the bone with potatoes and crushed almonds in a rich southern Thai massaman gravy. This is a straightforward curry cooked with a culinary mind.
Abbot (253/2 Sukhumvit 31, Tel: 02 258 6250, www.abbotbangkok.com)
This place is not ecclesiastical; rather it has been named after Abbot Kinney Road in the uber-cool Venice Beach district of LA. A typical bohemian lifestyle is reflected in the mid-century Cali-Mod furniture and vibrantly painted woods. There is a lively bar downstairs and a more refined dining experience on the level above.
The chef is Filipino-born but American-trained René Michelena who has worked in some of the finest dining establishments in the States. In Bangkok, he recreates California flavors made with local Thai ingredients. “My food has always been Californian, but I wanted to make it more casual,” Rene says. “After working in fine dining for 20 years, I’m over the white table cloth, white gloves thing.”
We started with three fresh oysters served with a wedge of lemon or fresh wasabi. Our delightfully light first main was tigress BBQ prawns & red pepper, made up of barbequed prawns, corn custard, candy stripe beets, garlic crumble, and a barbequed red pepper.
Followed by the smoky 1/2 chicken, which comes with spinach and cherry tomatoes with a betel leaf-xeres wine reduction. We finished with a hyper multi-nut pie made from pecans, almonds, macadamia nuts, and jaggery served with caramel bourbon ice-cream and garnished griottine cherries for dessert.
Moodz (308 Sukhumvit 55 (Thonglor); Tel 02 170 8440, www.facebook.com/MOODZTHAILAND)
This restaurant reflects the current trend of a more casual-smart dining area, and the food style is contemporary European. An alternative to the more traditionally formal, this style features tables and chairs inside and a more lounge-style set out on the deck. It’s a place to come as you want and dine as you feel comfortable.
Designed by Bensley Design Studio’s Brian Kent Sherman, Moodz is a situated on the corner of Thonglor Soi 10. The décor is a mix of wood, turquoise, and colorful jazz-style paintings.
Our first dish here is the tuna tartar that comes as a generously diced fish in a pleasantly sweet dressing. His crab cakes are succulently tender and are made from 100 percent crab with no superfluous filling.
When the squid alfredo came to the table, it looked like regular pasta but it was not. It was thin strips of grilled squid tossed in a deliciously creamy Alfredo sauce, which was an impressively creative use of seafood.
For the main course, we had succulently tender slow-cooked beef cheeks with mashed potato, made for the ultimate in quality comfort food. The meal finished with a light yet rich, molten chocolate cake served with contrastingly simple vanilla ice cream. Again, we left the restaurant thinking that we had another impressive meal consisting of simple dishes, done exceptionally well.