Ari’s ever-growing gourmet ghetto saw the soft opening of a remarkable gastropub at the end of 2013. Occupying a converted two-storey house tucked away at the end of a quiet soi within walking distance of BTS Ari, Rock takes its name from the restaurant’s main interior motif: large, natural boulders that have been carefully sculpted and polished to support glass tabletops.
Track-lit, dark-hued walls define the urban-casual cocktail lounge ambience. It almost comes as a surprise to find that this inviting lounge-like space also boasts such a talented kitchen team. Under the creative direction of female chef Nhoi Ouypornchaisakul, who has a strong interest in healthy, organic ingredients, the kitchen fashions dishes originating primarily from Thailand, Myanmar and Yunnan. Here they’ve been reformed and re-booted in a way Thai politics can only dream about.
Particularly impressive are the appetisers, which come in three sizes and three prices to match appetite and pocketbook. The Crab cream cheese wafers are crispy crepelike shells of Thai khanom buang with fresh blue crab, cream cheese, green onion and a light sweet-and-sour sauce. Order the large plate, as they disappear quickly.
The crispy oysters successfully juxtapose fresh bivalves with fermented pork sausage, cilantro and toasted chilli, while the pomelo slaw, Rock’s interpretation of miang som-oh, is more traditional in the expected mash-up of pomelo, fish sauce and toasted coconut.
The five-spice lamb shank, slow-roasted in aromatic Chinese herbs, features perfectly tender chunks of lamb in a flavourful jus. Our table raved about the wild somtum, which mates the usual shredded green papaya with khanom jeen, bamboo shoots and pickled cabbage – Mekong fusion at its best. For something with a Lao/Isan tilt, try the warmed olive leaves salad, where tart and savoury makok leaves (from the Asian “olive,” also known as hog plum) match perfectly grilled chicken with a paste of roast yellow chillies.
Heartier appetites can bite down on Rock’s signature beef sirloin burger, enlivened by a crisp oyster pancake, tiger ear leaves and Sriracha sauce.
Rock Restaurant & Bar
7/1 Soi Chumnanaaksorn, Phanonyothin Soi 9 | 0826-888-200
Facebook: Rock-Restaurant-and-Bar | Mon-Sat 5.30pm-midnight