Contemporary American cuisine develops a fanatical food following
When a restaurant develops the word-of-mouth following Bunker has, in just eight months of operation, it does whet one’s appetite during the approach to this temple of concrete. Happily, the buzz is well deserved as the kitchen turns out some of the best dishes anywhere in Bangkok.
Inside there are cylindrical columns rising like smokestacks from the first-floor bar up to the dining areas on the second and third floor. The bright turquoise seats and geometric chandelier add a splash of life to the restaurant, as does the open kitchen. The third floor offers patio seating for those who want fresh air, and indoor seating is generously spaced to allow for conversations.
Partners Andreas Pergher and Tim Butler describe the cuisine as contemporary American, which is vague enough that most Americans don’t comprehend what it means. In Bunker’s case, it is a heavy New York influence from chef Arnie Marcella’s experience there—a mix of immigrant flavour and hearty food.
Rather than any flair for the dramatic, top-notch ingredients and excellence in execution mark the dishes here. The quality of the produce means there is no need to try plating things to resemble a work by Jackson Pollock. A dish simply entitled ‘Locally Grown’ (B375) offers 19 herbs and vegetables grown in Thailand, the result of the chef’s collaboration with a forager. It’s lovely to look at, and has a citrus kick with crunch—thanks to some outstanding baby carrots. Meanwhile, the Hiramasa tartare (B375), a type of kingfish with jicama, provides a salty counterbalance to the salad.
The grilled Wagyu beef tongue, paired with a single Brittany sea snail on parsnip puree with a parsley foam (B425), was a perfect combination of salt, fat, and the crunch of the snail. The addictive Japanese pumpkin soup (B450) has drawn a following, including requests for the recipe, but chef Marcella swears the only ingredients are pumpkin, water, smoked Alaskan king crab, black truffles, and pickled shallot.
The wild Mediterranean sea bass (B850) was succulent, bathed in a basil lemongrass water and accompanied by heirloom tomatoes popping with flavour. The Swiss chard topped with a sweet and piquant peanut sauce was sharp, not taking a back seat to the juicy Butterscotch pork belly (B675) that was rib-sticking. Finally, the Wagyu beef filet mignon (B900), again with baby carrots, was so tender and red that I’m practically drooling now just recalling it.
If you’re still upright, the Malagos chocolate torte (B300) will surely finish you off. Made from single-origin cocoa from the Philippines, it combines a mascarpone creameux, caramel and cashew toffee.
Bunker serves wine by the glass—the 2015 Wairau River Sauvignon Blanc (B360) was a sublime dry pairing for many of the starters—as well as custom cocktails such as the Tail Spin (B320), a mixture of dry gin, vermouth and chartreuse that proved a delicious bitter antidote to several rich dishes.
By Robin Banks
118/2, Sathorn Soi 12 | Tel: 092 563 9991
Open daily: 6pm-midnight | www.bunkerbkk.com