Nan Charcoal Grill
Northern Spain's Basque cuisine of coal-grilled meats takes center stage in Sathorn.
Competition among Bangkok’s Spanish restaurants is heating up, and Sathorn’s latest dog in the fight is Nan Charcoal Grill. Found on a leafy corner of Narathiwat Road, the restaurant champions a Basque-style of smoky, coal-grilled meats and fish indigenous to northern Spain—Rubia Gallega beef tenderloin (B890), grilled tiger prawns (B620) and Galician prime rib tomahawk (B5,000/kg).
A nearby university prohibits alcohol sales, but with corkage at a very reasonable B250 it’s easy to bring your own. Inside is an eclectic mix of soft industrial decor and casual touches. Large steel support beams lined with used wine bottles loom over bright orange booths, and vast windows create an airy atmosphere while the smoke and sizzle from a semi-open kitchen bellows into the main dining area. The soundtrack here is all ’80s hits and modern pop tunes. If that’s your jam, you’ll love the vibe.
While the aesthetic stands out, the flavors on the tapas house platter (B390) do not. Aside from delightful juicy bites of chorizo on toast, it’s mostly an uninspiring and mushy assortment of fried potato bomba and iberico croquettes. Redemption is found in the Norwegian salmon tartare (B270), which is balanced and tangy with support from soft chunks of avocado and a bed of almond cream.
Chef Vimvadee Piyavanich’s presence is hard to miss. She spins multiple plates as lead host and head of the kitchen, and seems to share a lot of hugs with the stream of regulars that pour in each night. Coming off a stint at the two-Michelin-starred L’Espadon in Paris, she displays her fine-dining chops through attempts at flashy, Nouvelle-style presentation. But the flavors, and prices, don’t seem to match.
On our last visit, the grilled waygu steak with roasted bell peppers and potatoes (B590) was so salty it was hard to finish with any enthusiasm. The same goes for the classic pan-cooked rice paella (B395), which was watery and came with chewy, overdone clams. The tender pork presa shoulder (B520) is better thanks to a nice grilled sear and subtle tinge of garlic, but still lacks the sufficient “wow” factor to justify its size-to-price ratio. That’s pretty much the story throughout. Nan Charcoal Grill has produce as good as anywhere in town, but unbalanced flavors and small portions don’t do justice to the amount of money you’ll spend eating here.
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.