Even before Anand Gaggan gained mainstream recognition after the second season of Chef’s Table showcased his extraordinary culinary journey in 2016, the Indian chef had single-handedly changed the global discourse on Indian food when he opened his eponymous Bangkok restaurant in 2010. Serving up “progressive Indian cuisine”, Gaggan held the top spot on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants for three years running and was awarded two Michelin stars by the Bangkok Michelin Guide 2019.
Never one to colour inside the lines, Gaggan made headlines when he revealed that he would close Gaggan in 2020 to open a restaurant in Fukuoka with chef Takeshi ‘Goh’ Fukuyama – but before leaving, one of his two dreams was to open a tofu restaurant with Fukuyama in the Thai capital. Mihara Tofuten, which opened early last year, is a fine dining omakase restaurant where every course is dedicated to the stuff – but this is no ordinary tofu. The restaurant is named after the 57-year-old tofu-making facility from Kyushu, which Gaggan and his Japanophile foodie friends believe makes the best tofu in the world. Located in an unassuming townhouse, the décor is industrial meets minimalist with just enough Japanese zen to give it style cred. Meals revolve around the counter where diners can watch the kitchen at work. While Gaggan doesn’t personally man the kitchen, his touch can be seen in how the tofu is elevated and deconstructed in enthralling iterations. Surprising and never taking itself too seriously like Gaggan himself, the food at Mihara Tofuten allows diners to discover a new dimension in an underrated ingredient.
The humble tofu is elevated at Mihara Tofuten.
Another intriguing restaurant, albeit in a more traditionally luxurious setting, is Front Room at the recently opened Waldorf Astoria Bangkok. Fronted by chef Rungthiwa “Fae” Chummongkhon, Front Room is unusual not only because it is helmed by a lady chef, it serves neo-Nordic cuisine with premium seasonal Thai ingredients. Fae, who spent 12 years in Denmark honing her craft at Copenhagen’s Michelin-starred Kokkedal Slot and Noma, now takes centre stage at the gorgeous restaurant designed by Hong Kong design wunderkind Andre Fu. Fu infuses the austerity of Nordic design through materials and a colour palette combined with the codes of Thai vernacular architecture. Utilising staple Nordic techniques such as pickling, smoking, curing and fermentation to elevate, yet not overpower the existing flavours of Thai ingredients, Fae creates earthy and bold dishes which often highlight unexpected ties between Thai and Nordic cuisine. Ingenious, refined and simply delicious, chefs like Fae bring Thai fine dining to another exciting level.
Nordic techniques combine with Thai flavours.
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