By : JOHN GRANVILLE
04 April 2019
New American cuisine is inspired by the melting pot of the great metropolitan cities of the United States, an edgy style that is distinctly Western in origin but which infuses Asian flavours and ingredients. Bunker bases its style upon several points of origin, sourcing its ingredients worldwide and using fresh farm produce obtained from Thailand’s market suppliers, along with herbs and vegetables from the restaurant’s own rooftop garden.
Bunker is in appearance very much like its name, with a scorched concrete exterior that looks like it has just taken a direct hit, and a recessed doorway that leads into an interior of raw concrete beams and distressed concrete walls. The lighting is from dimly lit bulbs in funky glass cases, subdued but cosy, producing a hideaway effect. Marble and steel form the bar and table surfaces, with hues of teals and yellows, and splashes of green and beige from the seat upholstery adding warm colour.
The ground floor is the bar area, with a well stocked bar twinkling with glass, light, and brightly coloured spirits. One level up the wooden staircase, on the second floor, is the main restaurant with a variety of table seating that provides both for intimate dining experiences and also large groups. A large window looks out to the street below.
Chico Bay oysters are seldom found in Bangkok restaurants, so it is good to see them on the menu at 950 baht for six. The oysters are from Puget Sound in Washington State, and they are tide-tumbled, suspended in mesh bags so that the tide is continually rolling and jostling them. This leads to a deep-cupped shell and larger, firmer oyster meat, and we had them with just a squeeze of lemon.
Smoked burrata and a crispy sliver of Serrano ham offset the fresh fruity taste of our heirloom tomatoes (550 baht), a pretty mix of red, green and orange colours. Rather expensively, at 2,500 baht for a 150-gram tray, we had a serving of the green sea urchin that the Japanese call bafun. Served with wedges of lime and a bowl of tomato salsa, this was an indulgence, but the serving was large enough for two.
There are several main courses on the menu that are designed for sharing, and we found ourselves attracted to the crispy-fried pig’s head (500 baht for half, 900 baht for whole). Any fears that it would arrive grinning at us were dispelled by the presentation of the pork sliced and diced and crispy and crunchy, served on a board with dipping sauces and pickles. We had a side dish of Chinese kale (175 baht) to counteract the richness of the pork. Bunker also has a decent vegetarian listing.
The term “New American” is vague enough to allow a kitchen to come up with its own creations unchallenged, and Bunker’s concise menu certainly has a great deal of creativity. The restaurant is associated, in an unofficial way, with Eat Me, and the same approach to high quality ingredients can be found here. Bunker is also a very satisfying venue for after-work cocktails.