You know that Bangkok has become a world eating city when places like Chicon start popping up.
Some years back, it might have been quite an occasion to find a neighbourhood bistro of such exceptional quality, run by five young Belgian-French partners migrated to Thailand for this express purpose. These days, it’s almost expected to stumble on the superb devotion to detail and loyalty to true European flavours on offer here. But that doesn’t make Chicon—the name has nothing to do with chicken, by the way: it’s Belgian for endive, the fancy curl of lettuce always used for an amuse bouche here—any less exceptional.
An afterthought on an unused third floor space above the popular Café des Stagiaires on increasingly hip Sathorn Soi 12, the single dining space is painted an emerald green and outfitted with aggressively eclectic décor: an old TV console beside decadent photos of the cross-dressed, candles on the table to go with piped-in Cuban charanga music.
The menu of Aurel Termini—a 29-year-old from Lyons, France, tackling his first head chef assignment—is small and served on purposely casual gray pottery rounds of irregular shapes. But it’s filled with “Burning Love” (the name of a bacon-chocked side dish of mashed potatoes). Starters include a slow-cooked “Egg 64” (B420) and a “Golden Riviera Pisaladiere” of vegetables and anchovies. If you don’t know what those are, head straight to Chicon for the answers. Or go for the more familiar “blow-piped” tuna in pistachio—one chunk nearly seared and accompanied by an intense nut butter (B510).
At the insistence of one of Chicon’s proud co-founders, doubling as an even prouder waiter, you can take the plunge on the bistro’s “signature dish”: pig’s feet entirely denuded of all 29 bones and therefore thoroughly un-Sinofied, cooked for six hours with mushrooms and formed into one large breaded cake, mounted on delicious potato slivers and surrounded with a wreathed garland of frisée (B620). Naturally, the St. Honoré, a crispy creampuff iced with homemade caramel, was even better (B250). And this is one restaurant where the fresh-baked rounds of baguette are not just soggy or perfunctory but better than they are in Paris.
For all that, a full French meal here won’t set you back more than B1200, depending, of course, on accompanying vino or cocktails. In the brave new world of Bangkok fine dining, you could either be blasé or amazed at Chicon, so rich in far-off traditions and bursting with youthful inventiveness. We choose amazed.
F2, Le Café des Stagiaires, 142/21 Sathorn 12 | 08 1207 3077 | Tue-Sat 7pm-11pm