The buzz: David Thompson’s much-anticipated opening of Chop Chop Cook Shop has generated significant buzz among food enthusiasts here. It’s the latest Bangkok restaurant to take a stab at the age-old, Thailand-specific “cookshop” cuisine that thrived from the ’20s to ’70s but is survived by only a handful of restaurants today.
The vibe: You’ll find Chop Chop on the ground floor of a five-story art deco building called Goldsmith just off Yaowarat road. The building was originally built by a goldsmith as a place to show his wares, and the restaurant pays homage to these yesteryears. Thompson and Apirak Leenharattanarak from Bensley Design Studio created an atmosphere reminiscent of a mid-twentieth-century gold shop. The terrazzo floors and pastel booths also add a dash of American diner and hamburger joint feel.
The food: Classic cookshop eateries were often a blend of Teochew, Chinese, Thai, and western food traditions. They were known for their honest, comforting, and well-prepared dishes that aimed to please with simplicity and affordability. A good way to start a meal here is with a pair of twin starters, “Devil on Horseback” (B160) and “Angel on Horseback” (B280), both British classics. Don’t let the sinister name throw you, the “Devil” feature prunes soaked in armagnac and stuffed with a blend of chicken liver and almonds, all wrapped in bacon. The result is an interplay of smoky and salty notes against the caramelized prunes. On the good side of your shoulder, the “Angel” showcase oysters cooked with tarragon butter and prosciutto to create comforting and rich flavors. The crab cocktail with marie rose sauce (B480) is fresh and pleasantly acidic, with a pared-down addition of chopped scallions and iceberg lettuce to add extra crunch. The real star of the show is the buttered prawns (B550), which come sitting in a pool of fragrant butter, soy and szechuan peppers that balance out the sweetness of the shellfish nicely. For a heartier fare, try the debal curried sausages (B450), generously smothered in a rich gravy sauce with chili and onions. One of the more inventive veggie dishes on the menu is the “Chop Chop Mash” (B190), which is prepared using a mortar and pestle to create a chewy and springy texture. Then, the cooks smear it across a hot wok until smoky goodness permeates its center.
The drinks: The second level of the building is where you’ll find the Goldsmith Bar, designed by the team at Jim Thompson to resemble the early 20th century with decorative dragon motifs combined with traditional decorations and Chinoiserie wall art. For a creamy, refreshing cocktail, try the “Silly Rabbit” (a blend of rums, carrot, yuzu, coconut milk, honey, and tarragon, B450). On the fruity side, “Kirby’s Funhouse” (B350) uses gin, cynar, mango-hibiscus shrub, grenadine, and lime and comes served with burnt rosemary, giving it a herbaceous, woody scent to the nose and an experimental, sweet taste to the palate.
Why we’d come back: Eating at Chop Chop can feel like tasting the pages of almost forgotten food history. With a name like Thompson behind it, it feels like it could have some legs again. The folks at Chop Chop also leaked some plans for a third-floor fine-dining restaurant in the Goldsmith building—to open next year—so there’s plenty on the horizon.
G/F, 328 Chakkrawat, Samphanthawong, 097-008-0519. Open Mon-Fri 3pm-9:30pm; Sat-Sun 12pm-9:30pm