By : MELISSA RICHTER
24 November 2018
Very quaint and unassuming, Thaan, which means “charcoal” in Thai is much more than your typical steakhouse. Located on Sukhumvit Soi 31 in an in a converted shop house style building, it defies expectations on almost every level from the decor, to the menu, to the cooking skills in the kitchen. There is nothing ostentatious or flashy about the space and the first thing that hits you when you walk in the door is the inescapable and intoxicating aroma of meat on the grill. There is a well-appointed open kitchen near the entrance with a small curtain that separates it from a cozy and intimate dining room with seating for only about 20-25 guests. Classic jazz standards drift through the air, and the low lighting, white brick walls and minimalist design of the space give it a laid-back and funky vibe. White linens cover small tables with glowing mini lamps shade, and it all evokes an old-school charm, that is reminiscent of a bygone era and reminds me a bit of the type of basement restaurant you would find in New York City back in the 1970's and ’80s.
Opened in April 2018, Thaan is the brainchild of Bancha Winyarat, who was a former partner of the now-defunct Aston Dining Room. With several new partners, they developed a concept derived around marrying local Thai ingredients, with Western cooking techniques and highlighting items cooked on a Josper grill. The Josper grill is an elegant combination of a grill and an oven that uses hardwood for its heat source and is often called the ultimate indoor BBQ. “I wanted my own version of a local steakhouse. I just want to have the kind of food I love and missed when I was living abroad. When I went to Spain and fell in love with the Josper grill and knew I wanted to get one. Most of our meats are prepared using local spirits and cooked over charcoal made from eucalyptus trees found in the Ubonrachatani province or using a hardwood found from trees in the mangroves. It’s the wood that gives the meat its unique taste and flavor” shared Bancha.
Meat and seafood are the main focus and you will find pork chops, rack of lamb, and their famous 45+ Days Dry Aged Australian Wagyu steaks including their tomahawk, ribeye and strip loin. They also just introduced a new 20 hour Sous-vide Wagyu Short Rib w/ Beef Tripe & Beef Jus Smoked with Fresh Thyme. This dish is big enough to be shared with several people and has proved to be a popular addition. Although they are experts at grilling large hunks of meat, they also offer some surprisingly elegant and refined dishes. Case in point is the Sea Urchin, Scallop, Mikan Dai, Caviar & Nori Beurre Blanc and the Charred Lettuce & Anchovy Crème Fraiche. The sea urchin and scallop perfectly cooked fish were as good of quality as you would find in any high-end sushi restaurant, and the smokiness of the charred lettuce was a wonderful counterbalance to the crunchy sunflower seeds and creamy anchovy. This was accompanied by a crisp and bright glass of Domaine Anne Gros & Jean-Paul Tollot La Grenache-Syrah-Carignan, Languedoc-Roussillon 2014, from France. Another mind-blowing dish was the Beef Sukiyaki w/ Soy Sauce Cured Egg Yolk. A bit of a play on a tartare, the thinly cut and seared beef is mixed with soft almost caramelized egg yolk and delivers a powerhouse of flavor with a combination of salty, sweet and spicy elements all mingling together with the beef which is so tender that it literally dissolves in your mouth. We enjoyed this with a brilliant glass of Legende Bordeaux Rouge, Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot, Bordeaux, 2015 from France. Both wines served are available by the glass or bottle along with a nice selection of additional, reds, whites and sparkling wine options by the bottle. Although everything we tried was amazing, the best dish by far was the “OH MY SUPPER!!!” Beef Fried Rice w/ Local Wagyu Flank Steak & Fresh Black Truffles. This masterpiece takes everything you love about comfort food and elevates it to dizzying heights. The rare beef chunks stud the rice like red rubies, and the generous serving of truffles ensure that you get a bit of everything in each bite. It is absolutely addictive and one of the best fried rice dishes available anywhere. They only have one dish on the menu for dessert, which is their House Cheesecake w/ Strawberry and even that was spectacular. It is rare that you discover a restaurant that is all hits and no misses, yet Thaan is one of those places. Its simple cuisine that is expertly prepared and highlights the beauty and magic of every smoke-kissed ingredient. What they are doing is quite special, and once you experience this cuisine for yourself it is likely to change the way you think about food forever.