In Bangkok’s fast-moving dining scene, pop-up restaurants are the ultimate in eating on the run – we meet some of the foodies taking their mark.
Originally inspired by those terrifically tanned Californians and their need for very short-term retail spaces came the pop-up shop. It was only a matter of time before this concept was adapted to dining, the ‘flash and feast’ craze taking hold in America, Europe and Australia. And now, it’s well and truly found a foothold in Bangkok.
The idea is to hijack an existing space for less than 24 hours. Marketing is usually kept to a minimum to filter out those not in the know, transmitting last-minute electronic and online messages or through good old-fashioned word of mouth. Yet it takes a certain amount of gall, skill and imagination to execute successful pop-up dining events in this city. Here are some of the local artisan players moonlighting as pop-up pioneers.
SEA TRUFFLES by DAN KOH
Dan Koh is one of Bangkok’s favourite and jolly, yet highly cultivated seafood purveyor. An Asian-American from Hawaii, Dan was raised among foodies in his family’s
restaurant, with an insatiable thirst for the finer and fishier things in life. He has since gone beyond working as an independent importer/distributor of organic uni (sea urchin) and Irish oysters to developing his boutique distributorship ‘Sea Truffles’.
Over the past few months he has held pop-up events at various locations. He started at Apoteka in Sukhumvit Soi 11 and was more recently at the Accidental Butcher
garden for a twilight picnic featuring his signature oysters. “Revenue wise they are a limited success, lots of work,” he says. “However, the PR and branding is working and calls are coming in for orders outside the events and restaurants hear good things about your product. “Social media, word of mouth – we call it the the som tum telegraph – are great ways to get the word out.”
RESTUARANT KIDNAP by AHMS
Organised by AHMS, a select group of boutique hotels and resorts, The Restaurant Kidnap begins with one of the head chef from the resorts being sent to Bangkok along
with his key staff. They then swoop down upon a popular Bangkok restaurant to overhaul the décor and re-invent the menu. The night is full of culinary mayhem and mystery albeit meticulously thought out on site. All funds raised through the event are donated directly to the Pure Blue Foundation. “The Pure Blue Foundation is the corporate social responsibility [CSR] arm of AHMS,” brands and communications director Eugene Oelofse explains. “We host and run fundraising events to support
the foundation, with its main focus on marine conservation and education. “Events are extremely successful, perhaps more so in terms of PR exposure and highlighting our CSR to the market, as it is only a one night offering the revenue source is limited.” The AHMS uses their business prowess to create a full digital campaign, targeting existing networks, database and media relations.
“The foodie industry in Bangkok is so diverse and interesting that any event or new foodie destination has to be extremely special,” Eugene says. “That’s why our chefs
look at the Kidnap as an opportunity to really show off their skills and display different techniques.”
THE ARTISAN TRINITY by VIVIN, CHEF BAR AND THE ACCIDENTAL BUTCHER
Three of Bangkok’s gourmet artisans have merged for one high and mighty dining experience. Vivin Gourmandises Maison produces fine food products, particularly locally cooked amd prepared duck foie gras and dry duck magret. Nicolas Vivin, founder of Vivin, has long believed in pop-up collaborations, such as the mobile gourmet burger truck he rolled out with Daniel Thaiger.
“We thought it was a great way to do something edgy and out of the normal path for high-end products, to create a foie gras burger together, which was a hit among
both Thai and foreigners,” Nicolas says. This event will be held in mid-July at The Accidental Butcher, where Steve the Australian butcher will prepare and offer his premium cuts of meat to make up (spoiler alert) the Rossini steak, ably assisted by Roland Graham from Chef Bar.
The dinner date is set for mid July, limited to less than 30 people and will be communicated privately via each own network and via gourmet gospel. If you don’t want
to miss out on the Artisan’s Trinity first supper, check out their premises and try a slice of heaven for yourself.
OTHER POP-UP HIGHLIGHTS
Other pop-able leaders worth mentioning are Opposite Mess Hall in Sukhumvit Soi 51, who host on-thefly gourmet dinners and regularly join forces with neighbour WTF Bar & Gallery for some hipster-friendly and arty street festivals. And if you’re really looking for an exclusive lead, Roots BKK, the little sister to the highly successful
Roast Coffee & Eatery in Seen Space Thong Lor Soi 13, will be launching their upcoming “taste lab”, a space catered specifically to testing Roast dishes and pop-up events.
We certainly couldn’t end without mentioning popup markets. The growing presence of artisanal and craft orientated markets such as the Bangkok Farmers Market, the Spring Epicurean Market and the Sansiri Winter Market Fest are a delicious indication that popups are popping up all over this city.