Creative Tasting Menu offers first-rate, expertly handled, local produce
With so much lively activity along Thong Lor’s Sukhumvit Soi 55, it’s easy to walk right past Canvas, and that would be a mistake. The restaurant’s disguised appearance as a modern furniture store or one of those overflowing nurseries, bulging with greenery and choice shrubbery, is ill-suited. A small “Canvas” sign advertising the restaurant is easily missed. But spot it, and you’ll have discovered one of Bangkok’s most exciting restaurants.
I had been hearing whispers of Chef Riley Sanders’ creations for a while, whispers that seem to be increasing in volume. Chef Riley has a familiar story; falling in love with Southeast Asia during his travels in 2013, he decided to lay down roots in Bangkok and went about the creation of Canvas in 2016.
Originally from Texas, the young chef—he’s still under 30 years-old—is fast becoming one of the culinary driving forces in the city. Yet a quick scan of the online menu and I found it difficult to pinpoint the cuisine. An eclectic mix of ingredients, styles and applied techniques is evident; reflective, perhaps, of the chef’s experience under three Michelin-starred Chef Laurent Grass and his work as a chef on luxury yachts.
The restrained, monochrome interior of the restaurant allows Chef Riley’s creativity to shine where it belongs: on the plates. That said, an open kitchen reveals all of the shiny, modern appliances of a contemporary cooking lab.
From the nine-course Tasting Menu (B2,600/wine pairing add B2,000), the crayfish is the standout dish, both in its presentation and taste; a beefy specimen, the innards mixed with dala, som jeed (kumquat), and lemongrass, then reattached to the head, and plated with artistic flair. It’s paired very nicely with an “un-oaked” Chardonnay from Chile.
But hang on, another standout: toasted rice bread is served as a disk-shaped biscuit of rice with brown butter, salted egg and yellow chilli, a creation which straddles classification.
Blue swimmer crab with sticky rice is exceptional, and when I needed it, there’s a meaty dose of pig in the form of pork belly with jicama (Mexican yam), coriander and soybean. The only bum-note was the grouper, served with a wild almond and ma kwan pepper sauce that tasted too sweet for me, masking the quality of the fish. This was soon forgotten, however, with the delivery of a perfectly-pink duck breast with Marian plum followed by a Thai Wagyu tenderloin.
Ingredients, sourcing, and presentation are all of the highest standard, a perfect balance of sea and farm, and a series of desserts—lychee with orchid and Roselle, and jackfruit with lime and toasted milk—just on the right side of gluttonous. I left properly, lovingly, and unforgettably gobsmacked.
This is, to-date, the best meal I’ve eaten in Bangkok. I’m getting tired writing such gushing hyperbole, but the city’s new brigade of young chefs are producing food of breathtaking quality, much of it rooted in the traditions of Thai cooking, then applied using modern-European techniques. Canvas is firmly in that mix and Chef Riley someone to watch with interest.
By David J. Constable
113 / 9-10, Sukhumvit Soi 55
Open daily: Sun-Thur, 6pm-midnight / Fri-Sat 6pm-12.30am
Tel: 099 614 1158