Food Escapades at 80/20!
Enjoying An Evening with the Explorers of New Thai Cuisine in Bangkok
With just another day left on our second trip to Thailand; as "Sticks & Spoons", we wanted the evening to be special. We are frequently readers of BK Magazine and their short review of 80/20 was all we needed to make a decision for our last dinner in our beloved Bangkok! This is our review of 80/20!
We read that 80/20 recently had re-launched with a new dining concept offering a set 9-course menu signed by the couple; Head Chef Napol "Joe" Jantraget and Pastry Chef Saki Hoshino. Also, the hints in reviews that 80/20 was somehow embracing the trend of using locally produced ingredients, taking inspiration from older recipes and making modern twists on traditional Thai Cuisine but pushing the kitchen firmly and progressevily forward; made our decision easy.
We arrived to the second seating on a Thursday evening, and took our place at the Kitchen Counter with a full view of the kitchen. We just love that! Why doesn't more establishments offer Kitchen Counter or Kitchen Tables? Or Common Tables? We haven't seen a lot of this anywhere actually.
The interiour of the restaurant is beautiful with a clean, industrial-kinda-look in the details. Just inside the door; you are welcomed by a Pantry packed with glass jars (containing "Chef Secrets"?) and an inviting small Lounge in front of the Bar. But when entering the Dining Room you can't ignore that the Kitchen is the natural magnet of the room! The Kitchen Counter take up half of the room; a restaurant design right up our alley as we think that with all great restaurants comes a strong focus on the food concept and letting the kitchen being the beating heart! Your eyes focus on the kitchen is only "interrupted" by some lovely murals with scenes from catching produce and cooking them painted in an "old School" way as a backdrop and a wall that have been partly teared down now working as a pillar with an Arrangé in the middle. Nice!
The Progressive New Thai Cuisine at 80/20
We quickly ordered two cocktails from the ambitious bar for 340 Baht each; FON (rain); Grandma Jinn, Pandan, Coconut, Hoarfrost Oolong, Palm Sugar and SOD (fresh); Peroni Lager, Chalawan IPA, Watermelon, Pineapple, Palm Sugar and Lime. Two Signature Cocktails that built up our expectations smoothly.
The set 9-course Menu priced at 3000 Baht are changed at least once a month with just some of the Signature Dishes outlasting the innovative brains of Chef Jantraget, Pastry Chef Hoshino and their additional 8 cook strong Team in the kitchen. To the menu we took the 5 glass Wine Pairing for 1400 Baht (there's also a 7 glass Wine Pairing for 1800 Baht).
The focus on Food is traditional tastes, sustainability and ingredients by season like many other trendy Bangkok Restaurants right now - but its with the progressive thinking in tastes and textures the kitchen at 80/20 really take flight!
The menu begin with some tasty Snacks - three of them - arriving quickly one after the other with professional presentations from the Kitchen Team.
"Chili Roulette" - can you spot the two that are "fake"?
"Chili Roulette" was fun! Two "fake chili's" in a bowl of real ones; one of them real hot and spicy, the other one more aromatic with soothing and refreshing accompanies served in shot glasses on the side.
Goat Tartare and Fermented Rice Coconut Crêpe
The Goat Tartare was an interesting combination of flavour we never experienced before! The fermented rice and coconut crêpe is Chef's version of indian Palappam Pancake and works as a wrap for the powerfully curry-seasoned tartare. The tastes is surprisingly well combined and we could easily eat one more. Or more likely two or three!
A Bouquet of Seasonal Herbs and Greens
Curry Puff, Spicy Banana Blossom, Sweet Black Banana Sauce
Presented as being inspired by the iconic Curry Puff Stand further down the road this first dish became an instant favorite! And Chef had surely made a 2.0 version of the original! You know the feeling when you don't want to take the last bite simply because it will end the dish? Well, this is one of those dishes! Spoons are not very fond of bananas in food at all but this dish was complex, extremely well-seasoned and just delicious from the first bite to the last. Spoons quote:"I surrender...serve me banana like this and I'll be a lifetime-banana-ambassador"! Sticks was sure that this must be the best tasting curry puff she have eaten in her life so far. Period. So; just truly an amazing dish!
Tiger Prawn Crudo, Winter Citrus Vinaigrette, Edible Sand, Edible Flowers
Another one of our favorite dishes at 80/20! The Tiger Prawn was challenging in it's "chunky" rawness at first - Sticks would have liked it to be shredded in thin slices - but actually that might have been what made the dish according to Spoons. Chewing the Prawn release a respectfully amount of Umami which together with the freshness of citrus and nuttyness of the crunch brought an elegant balance packed with flavours of the sea. Great serving!
Head Chef Jantraget presents one of the mains. On the other Counter in the background; Patry Chef Hoshino.
Lightly Steamed Crab, Slow-Poached Winter Melon, Winter Beans, Okra
Smoked Marble Goby, Fish Mousse, Fermented Coconut Cream, Pickled Kale Stems, Kale Crisp, Fried Betel Leaves
Grilled Oyster, Seepweed Butter, Pickled Blood Cockle, Spicy Black Garlic Glaze, Jicama, Cauliflower
The following three dishes is a display of both daring and well-known tastes. We have some issues with the broth in the crab dish at first but it's more in the aroma then in the taste and together with the rich crab it's palatable. The Smoked Marble Goby is delicious with the distinct smoke tones combined with the fermented coconut and spices. The Oyster dish is not a favorite to Sticks, unfourtanly, but Spoons love the overwhelming ocean impressions. Overall, the dishes are well performed and are interesting in both textures and tastes. They have an adventourus feeling around them; yet still something very recognizable and familiar about the tastes when you eat. Creative combinations that inspire.
"A Dream of Trang BBQ Pork" served with Sticky Rice Infused Seasonal Mushroom, Fermented Chili Sauce
Perfectly cooked pork is always great! And when thinking about it; this was actually the only crispy pork we eat this time in Bangkok - belive it or not! But when it's served like this - that's ok! Our only objection could be that we wanted a larger serving of the delicious dish. The fermented chili sauce was to tell the truth; a little too spicy for our western palette to this kind of dish. Don't get us wrong! We LOVE spicy chili sauce! But to the delicate seasoning on the Pork and the aromatic sticky rice, this potent, powerful chili sauce becomes superflous! However; we couldn't help eating the sauce after the pork with some of the rice and that was sufficiently to get that chili satisfaction granted! A fantastic sauce though!
Smoked Duck Breast, Duck Sausages with Offals, served with Sungyod Rice Salad,
Preserved Vegetable, Duck Jus Infused Long Pepper Curry
This dish was a big reminder for Spoons that Long Pepper have an interesting and unique taste. "I haven't used it for years but the Duck Serving gave me some ideas"! The side salad was delicious and together with the perfectly cooked Duck Breast and the flavourful Sausage - the sauce bind the ingredients together, leaving you with this fantastic aftertaste of the powerful Long Pepper! Yum!
The Kitchen viewed from the Kitchen Counter
Wall Painting from a Local Artist
A Pantry full of Great Tastes
From the back of the Restaurant...
...and the Interiour from the other side
Modern and Abstract
Guava & Roselle
Duck Egg Custard, Roasted Pumpin, Compressed Pumpkin, Pumpkin Kombucha, Ganache, Praline
Chocolate Log, Powder, Jujube, Salted Egg Ice Cream, Aerated Chocolate
The Desserts are all very well executed with such a fine technique. We loved the Pumpkin Dessert! The different textures and sensations of Pumpkin is intriguing. And we actually didn't think we should enjoyed it so much like we did! The tastes are just w-o-w and a dessert in our taste!
The Chocolate dish is all that we love about chocolate - but the hero in the dish is the Salted Egg Ice Cream! And of course it's the Ice Cream binding it all together and giving the chocolate components the helpful salty tones to be just delicate! Well done!
A Satisfied and Happy Sticks
The Talented Team at 80/20
We had a great time at 80/20! The Food is exciting, innovative and - what we think - one of the more progressive takes on the trend with using the Thai Cuisine heritage, flavours and old recipes in a new, modern way. Truly a Ride! And with all Good Rides you want to experience them again! So you guys; keep bringing it and we'll get back!
The service and professionalism all through the Team are impeccable and you can tell this is a devoted group, burning for great cooking and giving their guests a memorable evening - and it sure became one for us; Thank you!
80/20 is a strong 5/5 Sticks & Spoons recommendation!
If you want to discover a Modern and Innovative Thai Cuisine you definitely should check this restaurant out!