Chiang Rai's most exciting restaurant opening in a long, long time, Locus Native Food Lab showcases chef Kongwuth Chaiwongkachon's dedication to local produce and unique takes on familiar Thai dishes.

Known for his time in Japanese kitchens like Thonglor's defunct Kaguya and Chiang Mai's Ren at Dhara Dhevi, the chef is now taking an altogether different path at his new restaurant. “Everything changed after I took a trip into Hin Lad Nai forest where I saw the balanced way the hilltribe people there live with nature. Now I cook for a reason—to show people how local wisdom is important to all of us,” Kongwuth said. 

Here at Locus, it’s all about native products, and it's not limited to the food. From the first glance at the hybrid clay-concrete house with its cogon grass roof to the mat of plaited yang plant, the owner's appreciation of local craftsmanship becomes apparent.

Each night, Kongwuth serves only a single group of diners (from 1-20 people), attentively telling the story behind each dish in the 10-course tasting menu (B950/person).

Spotlighting Northern Thailand’s abundant produce, the chef remakes traditional dishes with no-frills techniques—no sous vide, no foams, no faux caviar or any modern gastronomy gimmicks—yielding textures and depth while retaining familiar flavors. While dining, you might see him at work using old-school equipment, like the steaming cloth-top pot for making kao kriab pak mor (steamed rice dumplings) or a vintage ice shaving machine.

Kongwuth's take on the traditional sa ba tang cucumber spicy salad comes in the form of a light and refreshing lemongrass chiffon cake, spicy cucumber sorbet and crispy nam pu (crab sauce), while his namprik orng (tomato and mince relish) comes simply plated among a variety of blanched veggies.

The chef also employs some Japanese techniques he has mastered through his career, resulting the tender pork chashu in his kua kae (stir-fried curry with veggies).

171/5 B. Santarnlhuang, T. Rimkok, A. Muang, Chiang Rai, 086-881-7299. Open Tue-Sun 6pm-late. Reservations only