A laid-back tempura experience in Ekkamai.
Batt Tempura might just be the smallest restaurant we’ve ever reviewed. Sitting beneath faux-hemian craft cocktail joint Sugar Ray, its operation stretches to four tables plonked in a parking lot, and a cupboard-sized kiosk where young chef Jakrachai “Champ” Ruayrean mans the stoves (or rather, stove).
Closeted in his Supreme-sponsored lair, Champ deep-fries morsels of battered seafood and veg while bathed in a neon pink glow worthy of a Nicolas Winding Refn movie. But as each drivered minivan pulls up to deposit its occupants at the upstairs cocktail lounge, Champ’s admirably tasty and wallet-friendly tempura remains widely overlooked.
Last visit we made, we were the only table for over an hour. This shouldn’t be. His fry-work might not be on par with the grease-free finest of Thaniya’s salaryman strongholds, but there’s definitely charm to his moist, lightly battered whiting (B65/2 pieces) and sticky, sweet shrimp (B85/2 pieces). Vegetables taste guiltily excellent too, whether it’s the marshmallow-soft bite of a plump slice of pumpkin (B40/2 pieces) or satisfyingly non-watery shiitake mushroom (B30).
It’s food made for beer, which comes courtesy of Champ’s dad, who quickly dashes to the nearby convenience store for refills whenever your bottle of Asahi (B120) is looking dry. Little quirks like this put Batt in the same charmingly calamitous league as places like Sam’s Fish & Chips on Soi Convent, where a buck-toothed uncle regales you with Vietnam war stories, or the intense burger-flipping action of Aussie kitchen old-timer Roland Graham’s Chef Bar, a restaurant that’s wedged into what’s basically a corridor.
Here though, the color comes with a dose of Tokyo-affected cool that feels tailormade for an era when Blaq Lyte is Thonglor’s most buzzing party spot. To that end, don’t miss Champ’s zaru (cold) noodles (B150)—about the only thing on the menu that’s not deep-fried.
This review took place in September 2017 and is based on a visit to the restaurant without the restaurant's knowledge. For more on BK's review policy, click here.