Shuck and Awe
Lalita Buatet may as well be the Queen Victoria of Shellfish. The first restaurant in her empire, the now closed Bouchot, focussed on imported mussels. Later, she launched Bélon, with mussels and oysters again a point of emphasis. Now, she runs five outlets—foremost among them, The Raw Bar.
This three-story restaurant resembles an old fisherman’s house turned upscale and post-modern, with metal curtains, fishing tackle, grainy photographs, and graffiti adding colour to dark wooden walls. The décor gives The Raw Bar a warm, almost masculine feeling. But the atmosphere, while attractive, almost immediately takes a backseat to the products.
Just beyond the door is the oyster bar, where some of the world’s finest bivalves sit on ice, from mildly sweet Kushi to creamy Picking Passage, briny Natural Wild, and the famous Fin De Claire (starting from B185). The oysters come on crushed ice with lemon wedges and a piquant secret sauce on the side, a blend of Thai nam jim seafood and red wine vinaigrette. Try it first without the fixings. With shellfish this fresh, it would be criminal not to slurp one down as nature intended.
But it’s not all oysters and raw here. Premium wild Hokkaido scallops (B480) come carpaccio-style—thin slices from the Japanese coast blessed with natural sweetness and tenderness. The scallops are topped with vibrant flying fish roe and circle a salad of baby greens with yuzu dressing. On the cooked side of things, the classic pairing of steamed mussels with chorizo and sundried tomatoes (B780) works brilliantly here. Bouchot mussels from France meet piquant chorizo, the spicy-savoury smell of the chorizo and its protracted kick contrasting the brininess of the shellfish.
Less classic, though certainly de rigueur nowadays, is the lobster roll (half B1070, whole B1890). Toasted top-split buns come topped with cooked lobster meat and the chef’s special sauce, a sour cream-like mayonnaise concoction that’s every bit as decadent as the lobster it cradles. The sandwich is paired with a roasted cauliflower salad dressed in a butter sauce—satisfying lobster-and-butter purists everywhere—and freshly fried chips with ketchup.
For an after-oyster digestif, check out the restaurant’s homemade limoncello (B280). The spirit, served in a small bottle and poured over an old-fashioned ice ball, brightens up the palate with its straightforward brightness. Or sample the homemade umeshu (B490), a spirit distilled with Japanese apricots, with a pleasant aroma and smooth finish. In both, the natural flavour of the fruit shines—raw and rare, the manifesto of the restaurant in liquid form, a perfect parting shot.
The Raw Bar Bangkok
440/9 Sukhumvit 55 | 0 2713 8335 | facebook.com/TheRawBarBKK
Photos by Anupong Hotawaisaya