Chef Chudaree “Tam” Debhakam crafts with precision and creativity.
Over the past three years, few restaurants in Bangkok have grown and evolved to the same degree as Baan Tepa. What started as a humble 12-seat chef’s table in a previously abandoned ancestral house is now a sprawling, sleek urban farm, cafe, and fine-dining restaurant with a 40-person cooking team. Chef Chudaree “Tam” Debhakam’s almost zealous approach to zero waste and local produce (much of it sourced from the backyard urban garden, more still from farms around Thailand), combined with a menu that is both unique and familiar, put her restaurant in a category of one. You expect Baan Tepa to be good, but what you get is great.
The setting matches the theme just as much as the food. The old family house has been reborn with sleek polished woods, soft lighting and splashes of green accents to hint at the urban farm philosophy. Vintage knick-knacks rub shoulders with bold abstract paintings as a mix of old and new pop tunes fill the air. It’s a rejuvenated, cozy space that isn’t afraid to blend old and new worlds. Neither is the menu.
The core objective of Tam’s food, whether you order the introductory six-course (B4,500) offering or the full nine-course experience (B5,500), is to give diners a taste of Thailand top to bottom—and let the flavors do the heavy lifting. Tangy noom chili relish topped with tiny bits of pork cracking and fermented mushrooms immediately bring your palate to Northern Thailand. The thick Senna Siamea curry with delicately fried pomfret fish instantly evokes Isaan. While most of the current menu appears to be a seasonal rotation, some guest favorites, like the “Crab, Crab, Crab” remain. The three-part dish sees Japanese-style egg custard mixed with crab roe paired alongside a glazed and delicate soft shell crab and served with a generous spoon of punchy and thick Southern curry. It incorporates basically every texture and flavor balance you would want on a plate of food: crunchy, soft, spicy, rich and potent. The drink pairing, a longan blossom honey wine from Chiang Mai-based Day Drinkers collective, cuts through some of the crab entree’s richness so well that we’re not sure it’s right to eat the dish without it. For that matter, all of the drink pairings (4 glasses/B2,900, 6 glasses/B3,900)—which include the likes of mead, cocktails, and orange wine—felt like true purpose-chosen companions to their dishes rather than flexes on the expensive European varietals the restaurant could have bought.
Even when the menu falters, the harshest criticism we can levy is that the food is good but not great, like the black squid ink dong dong noodles that come off uniform and bland in both flavor and texture compared to the menu’s other offerings. These criticisms are minor and few in number—really the victims of a menu so outstanding that anything without wow factor stands out more than it should.
The food and experience at Baan Tepa is special. The restaurant is firing on all cylinders right now, and you will be hard pressed to find a better fine dining experience in Bangkok. This is well worth the dusty trip out to Ramkhamhaeng road.
2369, Ramkhamhaeng Rd., 098-696-9074. Open Wed-Sun 5pm-late.
This review took place on Oct 7, 2023 without the restaurant's knowledge. Learn more about our review policy here.