A constantly changing menu offers modern takes on Thai ingredients
The changing face of Charoen Krung has been startling the past two years, and one could point to 80/20 restaurant as the vanguard of the transformation. Amid the influx of art galleries, coffee shops, and converted Chinese shophouses, the restaurant has consistently attracted hip, young professionals as more of them move to the neighbourhood.
The interior—a flurry of gray and black ironwork—has less than a dozen tables and a tiny, open kitchen space in which to whip out modern takes on Thai ingredients. The menu changes every three months or so, and the options are written on a chalkboard. The formula seems to have worked as the eatery was recently awarded a ‘Michelin Plate’ in the 2017 Michelin Guide Bangkok.
The house does its own pickling, which is displayed on Tuna and Beach Flavours (B380), offering seared tuna, lemon basil granita, marinated papaya, and pickled lemon basil seeds. As with classic Thai dishes, the chefs are often going for a robust mix of three or four of the main taste profiles in their reinterpretation of Thai cuisine. This one combines a spicy and sharp taste with the chill of the granita.
80/20 also works with local producers to unearth outstanding produce. One example is the curried crayfish salad (B520), featuring coconut and ocean custard, lemongrass tomatoes and sweet and sour herbs with crayfish that have been pickled in red curry for two days. The crayfish was delicate and had an addictive tang to it, garnished with flowers (as are several of the dishes).
Every culture has their version of meat on a stick, and Tsukune Yaowarat (B220) is an excellent medley of Thai and Japanese with grilled duck sausage, a sweet soy glaze, red tofu and black vinegar dipping sauce, with an egg yolk plopped in the middle. This is a hearty crowd-pleaser.
The visually stunning and aptly named Textures and Flavours and Milky Mushrooms (B360) combines slow-cooked, charcoal-grilled, and dehydrated milky mushrooms with braised lentils and prik larb, all topped with what looked like a nest of enoki mushrooms. Poured upon presentation, a delicious onion broth ties this dish together beautifully.
The kitchen also shines with items like the Duck Breast (B640), which has been aged and tea-smoked to provide a tender, pleasing chew, while grilled green onions and tangy jackfruit helps balance out the savoury flavour of the meat.
Do save room for a sweet from 80/20’s resident pastry chef, with her take on Thai Citrus (B280), a mélange of roast Mandarin orange sorbet, coconut chili meringue, lemongrass yogurt mousse, Kaffir lime, and roselle. It is a wondrous mishmash of sour, sweet and a tad bitter.
The restaurant prides itself on its cocktails, with 3 Gingers (B380) served as a hot tea of fresh ginger, turmeric, and galangal along with stevia and cognac. Or try the Thai-Grow-Ni (B340) a mix of Mekhong, Thai herbs, infused vermouth, Campari, and orange bitter.
By Robin Banks
1052-1054, Charoen Krung Rd.
Tel: 087 593 1936
Open: Wed-Mon, 6pm-midnight