A diverse palette of flavours creates artistry on the plate
When you call your restaurant Canvas, it stands to reason that the correlation between food and art is well understood. And when you have a visionary chef like Texas-born Riley Sanders helming the kitchen, and the team from the ever-popular Rabbit Hole bar (located just up the road) helping to put the whole thing together, you can definitely expect some masterpiece meals.
Inside, this recently opened space evokes European elegance with plenty of dark wood and classic black and white floor tiling, while the compact but airy interior offers a choice of counter and table seating for 40 persons (with additional seating on the 2nd floor loft level bar). The half-dozen or so kitchen staff work in an open kitchen area behind the counter, where diners can watch them painstakingly finesse each and every plating.
Our meal began with the Chilled Clams, Barely Cooked (B400), which sees seven delicate clams served on the half-shell like oysters, resting on a large bed of ice. But it’s all the additional flavourings that make these shellfish soar, as ginger, snakefruit, turmeric, and a very piquant yellow chili are all added to the mix, while the seafood morsels soak in an elaborately prepared salty brine. They were, in a word, divine… and a wonderful indicator of what else lay in store.
Chef Riley makes it a point to use almost 100 percent locally sourced ingredients, and his interest in deeply exploring the ins and outs of Thai cuisine results in some amazing concoctions. Case in point: his Thai Waygu, Grilled Rare & Chopped (B720), in which the Thai beef is served in tartare fashion, with flavours of bone marrow, green peppercorn, garlic, and sweet basil adding complement. And although the dish comes beautifully separated into four sections on the plate, the intoxicating flavours are not fully released till one mixes it, like a Khao Yam (Southern Thai tossed salad).
Another superb beef dish on the compact menu is the Beef Cheek (B940), in which the meat is cooked sous vide for three days, and served with guava—puréed as well as in thin slices atop the beef—mushrooms, and red chili. It is simply like nothing you’ve ever tasted before. Even the plate (handmade locally) is stunning, and visually mimics the dish itself.
Another unforgettable dish is Meklong Catfish, Caramelized with Tamarind (B680), in which Thailand’s humble catfish is prepared Japanese unagi (eel) style. Expertly cooked in a Josper oven, it’s served with two kinds of local eggplant, grapes, fermented coconut sauce, and a second sauce made from local herbs. It’s a revelation.
The artistry of these dishes is apparent visually, but listening to Chef Riley describe the intricacies of each—where a dizzying multitude of ingredients and preparation styles contribute to the end product—adds much to the experience. Thankfully, there are plans afoot to introduce a tasting menu where the young chef can fully elucidate his craft with individual diners. by Bruce Scott
113/9-10, Sukhumvit Soi 55
Open: Tue-Thu, Sun, 6pm-midnight, Fri-Sat, 6pm-12:30am
Tel: 099 614 1158