Less is more. Throughout the world, chefs are moving away from the big production of complex set meals and packing their attention to detail into small dishes. Err is the latest local eatery to apply minimalist principles and gain maximum flavour profiles.
The newest venture of the Thai-Aussie couple behind Bo.Lan, the most highly-realized expression of David Thompson’s more-authentic-than-thou cooking, Err is obviously a labour of love—a declaration of freedom from the pressures and restrictions of the fine dining world.
“The place was inspired by all the amazing artisanal spirits coming up in Thailand. ‘Great snacks to go with cool drinks,’” explains Dylan Jones, the “Lan” after Bo and main conceptualizer. Dare we call them Thai tapas, pinchos, cichetti? “It’s part of a world trend. This way we can keep the high quality, but it’s more fun and less pretentious. And, here, we don’t have to explain to people how to eat.”
Where Bo.Lan’s menu can read like a gastronomic dictionary, this one is quickly perused—with a small selection of specialties divided into handy categories like “Preserved, crunchy, charcoal, etc. “ And each small plate seems to condense some essence of tropical influences. Call it turning the ordinary unique. Or doing what Thailand does best, just one notch better.
Take crunchy watermelon seeds, elevated with bits of kaffir lime leaves. A chicken “movie” (B150)—pun on the Thai word for skin—turns out to be the crispy outside of an entire small bird, served in a straining spoon to catching drips from a tiny bottle of homemade, and much more subtle, Sriracha sauce. Pla som (B260), coated hunks of rice-fermented ocean, goes from mere stinky oddity to the ultimate bar food. Yet there’s no smell at all to Err’s meaty mussels (B360)—from Australia, Jones confesses—with just the right amount of chilli clinging to them. All the sausages are made from scratch, too.
“It’s not like you’re eating the same stuff that comes from one factory,” Jones points out with pride. Yet, he adds, “We’re mirroring the Thai experience of finding good food in low-key surroundings.”
That’s not exactly the case, as an old shop house down an alley between the river and the Wat Pho—perfectly placed to become an obligatory lunch stop on the tourist circuit once listed in Lonely Planet—has been beautifully restored. And Err is crammed with the funkiest of tasteful trimmings: from retro movie posters and souvenir Bangkok pillows to wild graffiti and a bar counter studded with coloured temple glass. “Urban rustic,” they brand it: a spot to feel instantly at home, helping yourself to silverware and cold water from silver teapots. And don’t forget the gastro-pub’s original raison d’être: local rum drinks (B250-280) with whimsical titles such as “Flower Market,” “Tha Tien Today,” and “Kmere Rouge.”
In Err’s unerring hands, even the humble yum kai dao (B95), or fried egg salad, becomes a sculptural tribute, the eggs turned into streaking meteors, landed in just the right hint of fish, lime, and shallots. The culinary miniaturizing is akin to a lens going close focus. Suddenly, the best attributes of a dish become sharper insight—and get sharper on the tongue, as well.
In keeping with its workaday spirit, the restaurant takes its name from that most common Thai form of assent. And it would be hard to say anything but a hearty “Yes” to its tempting array. To Err is human, to eat here divine.
394/35 Maharaj Rd | 0 2622 2291-2 | errbkk.com | Tues-Sun 11am-midnight
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