Boston-based restaurant is bullish on Bangkok
Thonglor’s 72 Courtyard complex has corralled some of Bangkok’s trendiest bars and eateries, both local and international. Along with Hong Kong’s Little Bao and Melbourne’s Touche Hombre, we now have Toro + Ko/Tapas Bar, which arrives by way of Boston and New York. The creation of award-winning American chefs Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette, Toro features Barcelonainspired hot and cold small plates, to be served and enjoyed tapas-style, with wine and cocktails.
Why Bangkok? “There’s not any city in the world right now that has more going on,” Oringer told reporters at this year’s Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. “There’s an energy, and the Thais love food literally like no one else.”
Zach Watkins, the chef overseeing Toro’s Bangkok kitchen, says his team takes the New York branch as the basic reference, and adapts the food to suit local ingredients and palates. “We buy mostly local,” he points out, “and even the local rocket and watercress isn’t like what’s found in the US, so it’s important to work with the flavour shifts. My Thai sous chef has introduced me to all kinds of crazy Thai herbs, like roselle, and we’re trying to bring some of that into the cooking as well.”
In Catalonia, tapas dishes revolve around wine, and at Toro that foundation stands firm with a solid list of Spanish and Portuguese wines, along with a few French labels to satisfy Thai customers who are unfamiliar with Iberian vintages. The best way to start your tapas fun here is to order wine in a porron, the traditional 3/4 litre glass wine pitcher native to Catalonia and Aragon. It’s equipped with a handle and spout, so you can pour the wine directly into your mouth. We tried one filled with Cava (B1,700), the light Spanish sparkling wine traditionally served in tapas bars. The key is not to forget to swallow while pouring.
The pintxos section of the menu includes a traditional Guanciale (B350), grilled pork jowl with romesco, charred onion, and jujube berries, and a less traditional Seared foie gras (B490) with pickled honshimeji mushrooms, yellow chives, bee pollen, and Thai roselle. Cold tapas items include such familiar Spanish charcuterie as jamon serrano, iberico de bellota, chorizo, lomo, and coppa, ranging from B350 to B450 per plate.
A pan of sizzling Paella de Mar y Tierra (B790-1,500) came chockful of clams, shrimp, and chorizo, and was perfectly seasoned. We also enjoyed the Filete de la Plancha (B350), strips of spice-rubbed hangar steak topped with caramelized red onion and green curry butter. Meanwhile Croquettas de Bacalao (B300), traditional Spanish salt cod fritters, get a serious update here with the addition of tempura lemon rings. And finally, the Churros (B220), here made with roasted banana and chocolate ganache, is a perfect upgrade to this über-common Spanish sweet.
Toro + Ko/Tapas Bar
1F, 72 Courtyard, Sukhumvit Soi 55
Tel: 02 392 7790
Open: Sun-Thu, 6pm-11pm,