Hidden Chef's Table in Bangkok - The Ekamian on Sukhumvit soi 49
There’s a point just beyond Sukhumvit Soi 49 where the street begins to transform. The Japanese mums with toddlers in tow, Thai-nese restaurants and dessert bars starts to thin out and, in their places, sprout street vendors, sleeping Tuk Tuks, cats (lots of cats) and old-school mom and pop shops. You know, the ones with no doors and packets of snacks hanging from elastic bands that you both loved and feared to yank off as a kid. In the mix of all this old-school glory, is the Ekamian. Basically, a townhouse utilised as a chef’s table-slash-art gallery.
The ground floor room consists of one long table with seating of 12 persons ie; The Chef’s Table, and upstairs, a space with some rather quirky art. At the time, they were featuring an artists who took pictures with a broken camera, and I’m not sure if I was mentally stimulated by these images or if they were triggering a headache. But that’s the Ekamian you will soon discover. Much like their tagline, “Art, Canteen, Bitches,” they are provocative and artistic, but not in any way obnoxious about it.
The kitchen lies just beyond the chef’s table and is the simplest kitchen I have ever seen: a metal rack, a table with Grandma’s embroidered table cover and a hot stove. The chef, adorned in a tiger apron and tee, tattoos and a head bun was dressing silken tofu with soya sauce. Basic stuff. My first thought was, here we go, another hipster playing at cutting edge chef, I hope this doesn’t take too painfully long. But, as it turned out, I was being obnoxious.
As we sat down among strangers, a few French foreigners frequented the location before and a Thai couple, we were soon served the Cold Tofu though it looked and tasted nothing like I preempted. The tofu was dressed in a crispy gold hair (fried corn husk), an incredibly complex soya-based sauce and a smattering of finely crushed ice. The most refreshing Tofu umami dish I’ve ever had to date. This is in the “ghetto” side of Sukhumvit upper echelon, in a random townhouse, made by a Chef I’ve never heard of. His name is Parkorn “Tan” Kosiyabong, from One Ounce Chang Chui, by the way.
“The Layers Dish” was a ceviche of local Rockfish, leafs and kumquat. A truly herbaceous concoction with salty, sweet and tangy flavours all fighting for attention. Although the filleted rockfish, much like the clunky cutlery, felt a bit haphazard, reminding you that this was all part of the home made charm.
“The Double C” – coconut and cucumber was simply delightful. Reminiscent of Hor Mok (steamed fish wrapped in coconut leaves), but also nothing like it, with it’s super eggy custard texture, taste and mild sweetness. There were also gentle notes of Tom Kha Kung (coconut prawn curry). The only thing apparently missing was the flavour of the existing crab.
The Double “D” – duck breast, duck sauce, pickle was the only major downer. The duck was overdone and although the sauce was deeply savoury and morish, it didn’t save it from the cooking mishap.
They did make a stunning comeback with the “The Stick Back Alley Ribs”, pork sticky soy honey and creamy garlic mushrooms. Like meat candy; sticky, sweet, caramelised sticks of texturous flesh, a seemingly boorish dish, but on a closer inspection and further munching, the dish revealed much finer intricacies.
The desserts were also a discovery. Layered like a burger was the base of soft sticky rice, finely crushed ice, pandan cream topped with basil and coconut chips shavings. The layers of cream, crunch and herbs continued to rock my taste buds on the dimly-lit path walk home, along with the hungry b*tches (that finally showed up), sniffing at my heels.
The Ekamian offers 7 course set menu at THB 1,500 every Thursday from 7.30pm onward.
297/2 Sukhumvit 49
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 9am – 12am (Monday Closed)