Spanish tapas via New York, a six-seater omakase experience and a new pad Thai specialist on Charoenkrung.
Taking inspiration from his hometown, Miami, Florida, chef Kip Oxman (formerly of Hemingway's and Monsoon) presents what he calls "Nuevo Latino" (New Latin) cuisine at Azul. This new interpretation of Latin food borrows flavors from Cuba and other Spanish-speaking countries. Expect the likes of Peruvian scallop ceviche (B240) and Cuban sandwich (B240), as well as chili con carne (B360) and hamburgers (B380). The chef adds his own twists to certain dishes, including the use of crabmeat instead of red meat in the empanadas (stuffed pastries, B160) and delicious duck ropa vieja (normally a stewed beef, B220) served with poached egg on a grilled corn cake.
16 Sukhumvit Soi 49, 02-662-6117
Restaurateur Fred Meyer, the guy behind Issaya, Namsaah, Kombawa and Pizza Massilia, has attempted something more down-to-earth with this charming little Thai restaurant. As the name suggests, Baan Phadthai specializes in pad Thai, delicately made with a "secret" 18-ingredient sauce, Chanthaburi noodles, house-dried shrimps, duck egg and crab fat. You can opt for grilled pork (B190), grilled chicken (B190), grilled river prawn (B250) or blue crab meat (B280) on top of your pad Thai, or go for a vegetarian option (B160). Their appetizers are no less appealing. Try miang kana (Chinese kale leaf wraps, B150), which let you gather up all the ingrediets to wrap yourself. Among the housemade Thai desserts, the creamy durian steamed buns (B140) stand out with thei unique smell and approachable taste.
21-23 Charoenkrung Soi 44, 02-060-5553. BTS Saphan Taksin
Be sure to head to the latest rooftop bar in town with an empty stomach because it's not just about the drinks here. Over on the grill they cook up some amazing local beef from French butcher Arnaud Carre—the guy behing Arno's, one of the most respected food names in town. Char actually takes up the top two stories of the recently opened Hotel Indigo, with a stylish dining room downstairs and the rooftop bar up above to benefit from those amazing views across Bangkok's "Embassy Row."
25-26/F, Hotel Indigo, 81 Wireless Rd., 02-207-4999
Ari's newest Korean restaurant comes courtesy of former flight attendant and chef Kay Cho. He and his younger brother, Junhee Cho, began their cooking careers back in Sydney and have now set up shop permanently in Bangkok. Inside the small six-table venue they have you barbecuing your own beef on hot stones brought all the way from Busan (B350). There's also bulgogi (B280), kimchi bap with cheese (B250), dak glabi (stir-fried chicken with cheese, B250) and dolsot bibim bap (six vegetables, beef, egg and rice, B200), each of which are served with kimchi, bean sprouts and Chinese cabbage that the brothers prepare fresh every morning. There's a pretty funky drinks menu, too, which includes hongcho (concentrated vinegar and pommegranate said to reduce headaches, stop hangovers and increase beauty) which can be had with water (B60) or a soju shot (B50), as well as melona ju (soju, mineral water and melon ice cream that you mix yourself)—surprisingly delicious.
59 Ari Soi 2, 097-247-9777 06-19145-354
Comfortably the chicest place to dine at the Asiatique riverside community mall comes fromt he same team who are behind the Thai fine dining restaurant Osha in town. Here though things are a little more laidback, with a space that blends contemporary design quirks with an easygoing attitude. The Thai dishes might sound familiar, but the food here is anything but plain, whether it's a beautifully presented pad Thai or rich and decadent massaman cury. Don't miss the mango sticky rice and young coconut ice cream for dessert.
Asiatique, Warehouse 10, Charoenkrung Rd., 02-046-9441
Here's another Thai chef-driven omakase-only restaurant. Meruto Sushi, the restaurant of self-trained chef-owner Kirati Butdeevong, started a bit over a year ago way out on Nuanchan Road and has now expanded to Sathorn. At any one time, the new place can accommodate only six diners, who get to watch the chef making sushi from the best possible seasonal ingredients, delivered every other day. One of his highlight creations is fresh oyster from Hiroshima, served with house-cured ponzu and grilled gindara on a bed of Japanese seaweed. A meal sets you back B3,500 for 12 items and B5,500 for 15 items, excluding appetizer and dessert. The original branch is now on pause and will resume operations when its sister venue is settled. One-week advance reservations are recommended.
G/F, Sathorn Gardens, 39 Sathorn Rd., 092-369-7924
The brainchild of chefs Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette, Toro made its name in the US cities of Boston and New York for Barcelona-inspired traditional and modern tapas dishes served in a chic and fun setting. Headed by chef Zach Watkins, the Bangkok outpost takes reference from the New York branch and adapts the food to suit local ingredients and palates. That means seared foie gras (B490) served with roselle sauce, shimeji mushroom and mangosteen, whle the hanger steak (filete a la plancha, B420) comes with caramelized red onion and green curry butter. Other standout offerings include asado de huesos (bone marrow and oxtail marmalade with radish citrus salad and cocoa nib, B450), ensalada de sandia (watermelon salad with baby anchovies, pomelo and cotija cheese, B220) and setas y huevo (San Sebastian-style wild mushrooms with wild herbs and farm egg, B250). Also don’t miss their churros (B220)—perfectly crisp yet moist inside. Pair your dinner with the refreshing watermelon sangria (B310) or a glass of Spanish wine poured straight from porron.
72 Courtyard, 72 Sukhumvit Soi 55 (Thonglor), 02-392-7790