Put this Lao bar-slash-restaurant on your Thonglor agenda.
The buzz: Full-flavored Lao recipes and an old-school funk soundtrack combine at the noir-industrial dining room of Sanya Souvanna Phouma (Bed Supperclub, Maggie Choo’s, Sing Sing and Cactus) and fellow Laotian business partner Saya Na Champassak’s latest venture.
The decor: Taking over the space of breezy brunch cafe Luka Moto once night falls, Funky Lam provides much more of a party vibe thanks to rattan window shades that block the outside world and some very moody lighting. The coffee counter transforms into a cocktail bar complete with the neon mantra: “Keep the Funk Alive.” Head upstairs for slightly more privacy, where you can watch the kitchen staff hard at work, augmented by random, colorful graphics projected over the walls.
The food: This is Lao food, made with lots of Lao ingredients, that’s not afraid of real-deal, bold flavors—pla ra (fermented fish) included. Dishes like kaipen (B190), a starter of fried Mekong river-weed served with three types of spicy dips like jaew bong, are drawn from the owners’ Laotian upbringing. The refreshing feu kra dook seen (B450) plays on Vietnamese pho and the French classic pot au feu for a soup that offers roasted bone marrow and broth with sliced raw wagyu beef, herbs and loads of onions. Fans of Isaan food will find plenty of familiarity in larb ped (B350), a zingy, herbal minced duck salad, and the tam mak hoong puu tord (B260), a salad of thinly sliced ribbons of papaya, local multicolored cherry tomatoes and fermented fish, topped with crisp tempura soft shell crab. For a classic drinking pairing look no further than the gai ping (B360), a grilled half baby chicken with a smashed avocado jaew they’re calling a “Lao guacamole,” or the yam naem Thadeua (B220), a generous bowl of crispy fried rice, fermented pork, crunch peanuts, loads of herbs and roasted chilis.
The drinks: All those funky flavors call for a sharp, punchy cocktail (or three). Order the Salt & Pepper Margarita (Cimarron Blanco tequila, agave syrup, fresh lime and grapefruit juice, B280) and you may well finish it before you realize. Just as easy to down is the Lazy Sour (B320), a whiskey sour with an Asian twist of tamarind syrup that really takes the edge off. The refreshingly sour Queen of The South (plum-infused Iron Balls gin, fresh lime, bitters, dried mint and salty plum, B320) makes a fine palate-cleanser.
The music: Old-school molam meets modern beats.
Why we’d come back: Not only is the funky party vibe infectious, but the food alone warrants repeat visits. Choltanutkun Tun-atiruj and Megan Leon