28 April 2019

  • reviewer's rating :
summary : Laotian food prepared with very high quality ingredients and served in a funky bar setting in a corner of Thonglor's The Taste complex.

There are very few Laotian restaurants of note in Bangkok, and Lao cuisine is generally subsumed into Thai menus. Nonetheless it is very distinctive, and when prepared with high quality ingredients it takes on an extra edge that is far removed from the generally cheap and cheerful image that it normally has. 

The two business partners behind Funky Lam Kitchen are both descended from Lao royalty, and both of their grandfathers were prime ministers of Laos: Sanya Souvanna Phouma includes Bed Supperclub, Maggie Choo’s, Sing Sing and Cactus in his track record, while Saya Na Champassak is a successful restaurateur in France. The restaurant opened in the middle of last year.

Set in the rear of The Taste complex, so entered via Thonglor Soi 11, Funky Lam Kitchen has one (no doubt highly coveted) table in its tiny outdoor space. The interior is long and narrow, rather like a bar, with the actual bar on the right and tables with upholstered bench seating along the wall. Funky is the theme of the design, with minimal lighting, and a motorcycle parked at the rear of the room, the coat stand hung with crash hats. A neon sign saying KEEP THE FUNK ALIVE flashes above the bar, a black and white film flickers on the far wall, and the music is, of course, a funk groove.

A steamy Bangkok Sunday night, with the temperature in the late 30s, and a Queen of the South cocktail (320 baht) made with Thailand’s very own Iron Balls gin, a plum infusion, mint, and a heap of ice went down well. There is a good cocktail listing and also a handsome selection of wines, including a number of Austrian and German wines, not commonly seen in Bangkok. 

A dish of kaipen (190 baht), sheets of fried Mekong riverweed with three dips and a basket of sticky rice was the kind of food designed to accompany drink. Under the Sarad listing (we are sure the missed “l” is tongue-in-cheek), our soft-shell crab (260 baht) was coated in tempura and came with a somtam-like hit of green papaya, tomato and chilli. 

There are two kinds of laab on the regular menu, with Australian Wagyu beef (390 baht) and minced duck (350 baht), and we chose the raw beef version (cooked beef is also offered), which was herby and had a gentle infusion of chilli. Nahm tok seen (590 baht) from the charcoal grill was the traditional waterfall beef, prepared with Grade MB9+ Wagyu rump, sliced and with a powerful undertow of barbecue smoke. 

We ended with feu kra dook seen (450 baht), a pho-like soup. Slices of raw Wagyu beef are placed in a large bowl with herbs and onions, and the broth follows, along with roasted bone marrow, scraped in from the large bone placed alongside the bowl. This dish was the highlight of a meal in which every dish had been of outstanding quality.

It is heartening to see Lao food being showcased like this, and despite this being Sunday, the place was nearly full. There is an upstairs section with large tables for groups and private parties. The menu prices are very reasonable, especially given the high standard of the ingredients.