British-born Peter Lamb, Director of Restaurants at chic dining and bar complex KU DE TA, has worked in the hospitality industry since he was 16 years old. His experience includes running some of the busiest – and coolest – restaurants in the city of London, including Hakkasan and Zuma. Invited to work on the concepts, build, opening and management of KU DE TA, he jumped at the chance to escape his comfort zone in the UK for the unknown challenges of a career in Thailand.
How long have you been in Bangkok? What brought you here?
I arrived in Bangkok at the start of September 2012. What brought me here was a Boeing 747, a lot of guts at leaving my country of birth and multiple sleeping pills! Other factors included the opportunity to live and work in one of the most exciting cities in the world, one which is culturally and temperately poles apart from country of residence. In addition a huge role in an exciting, dynamic company and all the challenges that brings sealed the deal. I haven’t looked back since arriving.
How have you seen Bangkok change since your arrival?
From an entertainment aspect, it has to be a shift it terms of cool spots in which to hang out. Lower Sukhumvit was ‘the hub’ when I first arrived but now it seems the cool cats hangout at various ‘in’ communities such as Ekamai, Ari and Sathorn to mention a few. They are all making moves to be serious destinations for both dining and drinking. From an F&B standpoint, I have seen a shift in what’s considered cool. Small popups, artisanal product-lead menus and organic ingredients are now sought after. Informality and counter-bar dining are also growing in popularity.
In terms of nightlife, what are the trends?
No cover charge has got to be the one thing everybody is in unison on. Other trends, at least for mixology, would indicate that we’re seeing a rejuvenation of more straight forward drinking. Simple, good quality ingredients mixed sensibly with ice and classic, stylish glassware is the way forward. We’re also seeing that guests want a more intimate experience. Bangkok is in some ways a small city, and we love going to places where we know many of the other guests. This is one of the reasons why are currently renovating KU DE TA. We want to provide a cozy intimate vibe and guest experience whilst still offering multiple choices.
Are people becoming more sophisticated and demanding when they go out?
Yes. The more people travel and connect, the more savvy they become in terms of their knowledge and expectation of the service experience. Trends and standards in Bangkok are pretty much aligned with other leading world cities. I don’t see the difference being very large at all.
What do you think makes Bangkok such an exciting city? What do you like about it?
It’s the blend of history, modern amenities, the rich fascinating culture, convenient location for travel, exotic and delicious cuisines, and a proud and passionate people. Fused together, these factors make life here vibrant and thrilling. Every day I learn and experience something new!
What’s not to like about that? Where you like to go out for a drink?
It depends on my mood and the occasion. For a rooftop cocktail experience I like to head to Speakeasy at Muse Hotel. Near home I hop, skip and jump across to the bar with what I consider to be the best drinks list in town, Namsaah Bottling Trust. For a boys night out it has to be Oskar on Soi 11, which is consistently good and lively.
Favorite places for a meal?
I like Zanotti on Soi Sala Daeng, Soul Food on Soi Thong Lor, Appia on Sukhumvit 31, Baan Ice on Soi Thonglor, and Opus on Silom Soi Pan. Saying that, there are plenty of street food places where I love to sit outside, drink beer and take in the sights, sounds, smells and spices of this stunning city.
Where do you take visitors for a quintessential Bangkok experience?
To capture the spiritual side of the city it would be a trip to Wat Arun. For seclusion, beautiful grounds and famous Thai hospitality, I’d head to Siam Hotel in the Dusit area by the river. For a luxurious cinema experience that surprises and outdoes all others, I’d choose Enigma at Siam Paragon. And there is always Sukhumvit Road for the pure hustle and bustle of inner city life.