No Monkeying Around
Once passed the street side restaurants and bars beneath the Trendy Building on Sukhumvit Soi 13, the busy road becomes just another residential street with very little else for the average punter to see or do. Or so you may think. Just a few hundred yards from the main Sukhumvit Road you come face to face with an enormous tree that fills your entire field of view. This is a giant Chamchuri tree and it is the centrepiece to one of Bangkok’s newest eateries, Monkey Pod.
The main dining area at Monkey Pod is set in a traditional two-storey Thai teak mansion while the expansive garden is home to the outdoor smoking, drinking and dining zone. Sitting in a prime position under the ‘Monkey Pod’ tree is a well-stocked bar that’s fast becoming the place to be seen for sundowners and beyond. Monkey Pod is the brainchild of two exciting young souls who – to their credit – decided to push ahead with the opening of the restaurant during the worst pandemic seen for a century.
Head Chef Thavisak ‘Dou’ Phouthavong and Restaurant Manager and Sommelier Jirakrit ‘Tong’ Oonjit, have embarked a culinary journey that has set tongues wagging for all the right reasons. You see Chef Dou’s family lineage goes back to Laos and is filled with homemade cooking, spices, sauces and flavours that can set fire to an uninitiated tongue while sommelier and restaurant manager Tong has the perfect extinguisher in a selection of craft beers, wines, cocktails and mocktails. So, whether you start with a few beers and cocktails or dive straight into the menu with a spicy Lao Dog, your tongue will experience a real taste sensation.
“The food at Monkey Pod is predominantly inspired by my ethnic background – a touch of Lao flavours,” said Chef Dou who is of Laotian descent but was born in Brussels, Belgium and had spent most of his professional life in the UK. “Wherever we can we’ve incorporated Thai and Asian flavouring in our dishes and this is especially true in many of our sauces such as the Chimichurri dressing.
We kickstarted our meal with two Lao Dogs, a small Lao sausage enveloped in a steamed bun, which is briefly deep-fried to give it a crispy finish and baked appearance, and topped with a punchy tomato garnish. While the larb-type sausage is packed with full-flavoured pork and pork skin the taste is balanced with the soft fluffy texture of the Bao bun. The simple yet meticulously prepared item is in part paying respect to Chef Dou’s mother who came up with the sausage recipe and to his own creativity as he adopted the steamed bun from a Taiwanese restaurant he worked in while cutting his culinary skills in London.
Monkey Pod only serves the highest quality meats, vegetables, herbs and stock ingredients that are available locally and so its free-range, organic chickens come from a specialised farm in Nakorn Ratchasima, the pork is provided fresh from Bangkok’s artisan butchers Sloane’s and a selection of herbs are grown in the restaurant’s garden plot. Many of the meat dishes are cooked sous vide before being finished on the outdoor grill and the taste really comes through in the finished article as the freshness smacks into the taste buds.
Another highlight from the grill section of the menu is the Chilli-marinated Free Range Chicken served with red onions pickled in beetroot juice and delightful three-way Thai Chimichurri. The whole side of the chicken is served including skin and bone, while the underside is packed with smashed yellow chillies, which offers a touch of heat that’s just enough to tease you in to reaching for a cold drink. The chicken flesh is neither too dry nor too moist and with a helping of red onions and the adapted three-way Chimichurri you have a real mouthful of textures and flavours bursting with freshness.
Chef Dou recommended we try his Moo Pla Ra Jeow Bong, a stir-fried rice dish featuring a Lao version of Jeow Bong relish made a mash of shallots, chillies, galanga and lemongrass and a smattering of pork skin. The fried rice is topped with grilled pork collar glazed with pla ra, a fish-sauce cured egg yolk and fresh garnishing. I was apprehensive of tucking into any food item that’s come within barge pole of pla ra, but at Monkey Pod the strong flavour has been magically tempered by countless taste-testing so as only to add a hint of pungency.
During our visit, disaster had struck and the ice-cream making machine was out of service so we missed mouthwatering desserts such Oops…We Copied a 3-Star Chef comprising ice cream, som saa (Thai Dry Orange) and basil plus the curiously named When Phuket Meets Isan, a roasted Phuket pineapple, toasted rice ice cream and deep-fried milk. But this has given us ample justification for a return visit. Hope to see you there.
Monkey Pod is located at 27 Sukhumvit Soi 13 and is open daily from 11.30am – 11.pm with last food orders at 9.30pm.
For more information and reservations, call +66 (0) 2115-9830 or checkout their Facebook page at monkeypodbkk. Contact via LINE ID: monkey_pod.
Source: Punch Media Digital.