A collaboration between the team behind riverside haunt Viva & Aviv and chef Tim Butler of Eat Me.
Thonglor’s newest retro bar and restaurant, Viva 21, is a collaboration between the team behind riverside haunt Viva & Aviv and chef Tim Butler (Eat Me, #7 in our Top Tables 2015), who helped craft the menu.
The decor goes heavy on the leather and wood while the kitchen is helmed by Spanish chef Guillermo Carnicero, who serves fusion fare like spicy pork belly with mango salad (B550), wild salmon gravlax (B550) and Wagyu steak tartare nam tok (B550).
Cocktails include Lost Star (Tanqueray gin, blue curacao, star fruit, B280) served with white egg with cream and caviar, and Al Capone (Hennessy, Scotch whiskey, Irish whiskey, Grand Marnier, honey and lemon, B320).
The buzz: Viva 21 is the third outlet by the Viva team after the riverside Viva Aviv and the JJ Market Viva 8. But unlike the other, drinkdriven Vivas, here the focus is put as much on the food.
The decor: Set in a newly-built shop-house-style development, the wood-heavy space has little in the way of decoration beyond the building’s bare-brick walls, arched window frames and wooden floors, all lit up by Edison lightbulbs. The ground floor is dedicated to a long bar that takes up half the space, while the kitchen is set on the mezzanine level, with a chef’s table in front.
The food: Spanish head chef Guillermo “Billy” Carnicero, who used to work at Eat Me, heads the kitchen and designed the menu of so-called "modern international cuisine" in consultation with Eat Me’s head chef, Tim Butler. The food's influences are global, spanning modern tapas like the Spanish snack selection (B650 for two), which includes red curry and smoked duck croquetas, mango gazpacho, Spanish omelet, kimchi chorizo and quail egg toast, and jilda with anchovy and olive, to creative takes on classics like wagyu strip loin steak tartare with Isaan–style seasoning served with rice crackers (B550). We also like the deconstructed salmon gravlax with diced wild-caught salmon cured with vodka, salt and brown sugar, cream cheese and crispy baked bagel slices (B350) as well as the lemon curd tart (B250), which features chopped coconut and peanut in a glass verrine topped with lemon curd and Italian meringue.
The drinks: Cocktails and whiskey lead the way here. The head bartender specializes in molecular techniques picked up from his time at Myst (Thonglor). At Viva 21, he reinvents classics with creative presentation. Try the Lost Star (B280), a gin-based drink using fresh starfruit juice mixed with syrup, blue curacao, apple syrup, lime juice, egg white and martini bianco, served with slices of starfruit, whipped cream and cola caviar on the side. For something more gentlemanly, order the Al Capone (B320), a whiskey-based drink made from Johnnie Walker Red Label, Hennessy, Grand Marnier and Jameson. Classic cocktails cost B220-B350. There are also plenty of single malts. Prices start from B220 for Singleton 12-year, B260 for Glenmorangie Original and B480 for Glenfiddich 18-year.
Why you should care: Prices are perfectly positioned for bar food to share (plenty under B500 and not much over B1,000), while the fusion touches are handled well.