21 Year Old Thai Chef Opens Fresh Pasta Joint at Rock-Bottom Prices | Bangkok Foodies
Chef and Owner Mo-na Teeratada of 00 Pasta , and Winner of Iron Chef Thailand 2019 Launches ' Homemade ' Pasta Restaurant in Samsen, Bangkok at Budget Prices
Samsen road is not the area one would suspect a genuine fresh pasta joint to appear. It’s charmingly old-skool, it’s humble, it’s quaint, it’s affordable. Which all makes sense once you visit. The restaurant is simply designed with it’s wooden door and framed facade and peek-through window where you can see, mostly young and hip Thai diners sharing large serves of intricately-shaped pasta spilling to the plate’s circumference and drenched in a variety of boldly-coloured sauces.
Chef and Owner Mo-na Teeratada of 00 Pasta at only 21 years old, tells us that this is his second restaurant in Bangkok, the first being Na-Oh Bangkok, Bangkok’s dine-in abandoned plane concept. With a glint of pride he recounts his experience in Sydney, Australia, “I didn’t have any experience or training, I worked as a kitchen hand at 17-18 years, worked my way up until I was promoted to Head Chef”. After returning to Thailand, he didn’t waste any time forging his culinary career, winning the title of Iron Chef Thailand in 2019 and in 2020 will be competing to become “The Next Iron Chef Thailand”.
There are up to 20 seats available downstairs with a small second floor mezzanine with a few more tables not yet in service. The restaurant still at its infancy but it appears demand has already caught up with them, Chef Mo-na said “we will open up the mezzanine and install an air-conditioning, but we have been open for only 2 months and most nights we are full, so we always recommend calling in advance, especially on weekends”
The open kitchen is separated from the dining by a glass divider where you can watch burly and bearded Thai chefs in caps (not the sort of pasta-makers one would expect) deftly rolling out pasta dough. Delicately but assuredly cutting, twisting, rolling, bending and folding them out into delectable irregular bites. “It’s about trying to make the perfect noodle” Mo-na explains, “We make the pasta by order, so that it’s always fresh. Kneading fresh pasta dough, and making it still active inside, so it still has the tension of gluten, for that al-dente experience. Not like some other places where they have to under-cook their pasta to try to get that effect”.
The menu is simple and straight-forward, thank you! Choose your pasta and choose your sauce which doesn’t have names but are simply numbered with their ingredients. The service staff will bring out a try of their fresh pastas to choose from, so far 11 types and 3 specialty types at an optional extra price.
Chef Mo-na also tells us there is no ‘faux pas’ for picking the “wrong” pasta with sauce, we’re not sure if Italians would agree. Some pasta items are additional like the ravioli but scanning the menu we were astounded by the affordable prices, around 170-270 THB a plate, a far cry from the Sukhumvit or Silom bracket for homemade pasta with big servings, but then again rent and overheads are also incomparable.
With apprehension, we received five plates of steaming hot pasta, the first dish we delved into was our personal best. Ravioli Ox Tongue 170THB (+110THB for Ravioli Pasta) with #5 Garlic, Bacon, Basil, Chili, Parmesan. This dish was satisfactory in every way; the pasta layer paper thin but sturdy, keeping in tender and moist ox tongue textures.
The ‘sauce’ with it’s chunks of smokey bacon, savoury cheese, fresh and rough-cut basil, roasted chunks of chili and abundance of garlic was enough to reach the favourite pasta plate award of the night, but the lingering sweetness that crept-in secured the vote. A very-well thought out recipe and a very Thai one. When they talk about dishes possessing a chef’s personality I would say this is as close as it gets. Vibrant, skillful and a little ostentatious.
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The sweetness however were a little overpowering for some on the pasta sauces for our personal Western-inclined tastes, such as the Tortelli-Pork stuffed (+90 THB) Sauce with #11 Tomato reduction and mushroom (170 THB) or the #4 Tomato reduction, garlic, Italian sausage and Thai basil (190 THB) which we ate with Paccheri pasta, basically a sturdy fold-over pasta tube with a hell-of-a-lot of bite.
If you’re an amateur pasta-eater you may feel yourself getting full in just a few mouthfuls, the same goes for Tortelli Pork stuffed pasta (Add +90 THB for Torelli) which takes a bit of work to chew but the porky treat inside is the just reward, albeit with an overriding sweet finish. But this was understood not to be un-delicious, but a way to adapt al-dente fresh handmade pasta, which is still foreign to the mainstream market, to be more palatable to local tastes.
The steady stream of Thai customers coming into the pokey but cosy pasta house made that case-in-point. However Mo-na confesses his desire to remove the ‘Spaghetti’ option on the menu as it is often the most common request and he would like his diners to explore the exciting world of pasta noodles. Speaking of which, Chef Mo-na intends to extend his menu, up to 10 more pasta types a month, until he hits 100!
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And we won’t complain, especially after experiencing our second favourite dish of the night, the #12 Squid ink, prawn, tomato and basil (270THB) which were ordered with the Campanelle pasta; a pasta which we witnessed to be rather painstaking to create.
After sectioning of the pasta pieces, two pieces of dough rolled out into thin strips and then intertwined, by hand of course, and here in front of us was a huge pile of these twisty noodles, glistening brightly with black seafood ink. Yes, the lighting here could do with a bit of tweaking.
But the flavours? Well rounded and aromatic without any obtrusive bitterness or seafood funk. Last but never least, a hit guaranteed to have the locals drooling is the Cream, Truffle, Mushroom, priced at a ridiculous 270 THB.
If you’re here for Italian authenticity, then you’ve taken the wrong turn, if you’re here for great, solid, fresh pasta in quantity with a pocket full of change and a good (open-minded) friend to share it with, then pull up a chair!
169 Samsen Rd, Wat Sam Phraya, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200