Chef Kannika Jitsangworn brings a wealth of knowledge to her new role.
By Ashima Sethi
The first time I had the pleasure of visiting Capella Bangkok to sample the upscale fusion fare and bespoke drinks at Stella Bar, I can confidently say I had one of the best experiences of my career as a lifestyle journalist. Not only were the cuisine and cocktails inspired, but the team truly went above and beyond to ensure all of us had a memorable evening. Something that the Capella hotel brand consistently does so well. So, when our team was invited to visit the prestigious property again, I could feel the excitement bubbling.
This time around, we were invited to dine on the terrace at the hotel’s signature Thai restaurant, Phra Nakhon. Since its opening, the restaurant has generated a lot of buzz amongst Bangkok’s foodies due to their menu that pays homage to heirloom recipes, and their newly-introduced Sunday Seafood Lunch that has gained popularity swiftly due to its extensive offerings, particularly the inclusion of fine seafood on ice, authentic Thai recipes from the Rattanakosin era, and live stations dishing up a plethora of delicacies fresh from the wok and grill.
Now, with the recent appointment of Kannika Jitsangworn as Chef de Cuisine, there is even more to love about Phra Nakhon. Chef Kannika brings to the restaurant a wealth of knowledge about regional Thai cuisine, carefully crafting dishes from the best local produce, and herbs gathered from the property’s onsite garden. Her dishes are simple, authentic, and beautifully presented. Each is a testament to the Kingdom’s rich history, making the restaurant a must-visit for anyone who wants to better understand the depths of flavour present in all corners of the country.
Capella Bangkok is located within the Chao Phraya Estate, which sits on prime waterfront land in Bangkok’s vibrant Charoenkrung neighbourhood. Phra Nakhon itself is nestled within a sun-washed conservatory, framed by lush gardens, right by the river’s edge. The indoor dining area is bathed in natural light, which does well to enhance the décor’s earthy colour palette, tasteful wicker furniture, and Thai-inspired wooden accents. However, we cannot recommend dining al fresco enough as the restaurant truly offers some of the best views of the river anywhere in the city.
Food and Drink
As we were seated, we were treated to a welcome drink that was perfect for the Bangkok heat, the Rose and coconut lemonade (THB 180). The zesty concoction was equal parts sweet and sour and comprised of a fragrant rose syrup and coconut juice. We also opted to sample their alcoholic libations. I chose the Phra Nakhon White Negroni (THB 420), as per the team’s recommendation, and enjoyed it greatly. It had the signature bitter taste of a traditional Negroni but with more floral essences thanks to the Lillet Blanc, making it ideal for an afternoon tipple.
We then moved onto the food, which is served family-style if ordered à la carte. However, the restaurant also has several set menus should you want to sample a wide-range of the cuisine available. These include the Long chim e-san lunch menu for two (THB 2,800++) that elevates popular recipes found in the Northeast; and the Chivajit menu (THB 1,800) that is entirely vegan; among other options.
We tucked into the truly impressive spread. I began with some of the chef’s specials including the Phad pak chiangda (THB 380) that highlights gurmar leaves, which might be unfamiliar to us urbanites as they are grown predominantly in the North. Chef Kannika explains that these leaves are packed with health benefits and can aid with things like blood pressure and blood sugar. The leaves have a slightly bitter taste that is also rich and earthy. Combined with the eggs and pickled garlic, it makes for a moreish dish. Next, I sampled the Miang pla romkwan (THB 420), a plate of house-smoked grouper, vermicelli noodles, organic herbs, all wrapped in lettuce. Paired with a refreshing lime and green chilli dressing, every bite was a delight.
I then moved onto the Kuay teow lod talay Yaowarat (THB 480), which is Chef Kannika’s take on the traditional Chinese-style flat noodles dish. This variation had seafood delicately wrapped inside the noodles, which were then generously doused in a sweet chilli and soya sauce that heightened the flavours of the other ingredients. Another dish that was seasoned well was the Yum hua plee (THB 460), a banana blossom salad topped with a fresh-made chilli paste and coconut dressing, fresh herbs, dried shrimps, and an egg.
The team at Phra Nakhon also reimagines popular Thai dishes, elevating them with premium ingredients. One example was the Pad Thai pu nim (THB 490) that takes the dish of wok-fried caramelised noodles and tamarind sauce and adds crispy softshell crab. The crab’s subtly sweet flavour does well to cut through the piquant and sour notes, making for a well-rounded dish. Another example was the Nua sun nai yarng gula kha (THB 1,600), where grilled free-range beef tenderloin is served with crispy shallots, shimeji mushrooms, and a fiery jaew sauce, an elevated take on popular dishes like ‘moo ping’ or ‘gai yarng.’
Considering our meal had so many bold flavours, we opted for the classic dessert of Khao niew mamuang I tim gati (THB 280) for a palate cleanser. The dish of seasonal mango paired with warm, sweet coconut sticky rice, coconut ice cream, and roasted mung bean is delicious no matter the occasion.
The curries we sampled were such standouts that it was near impossible to choose one over the other. The first, the Gaeng pu bai chai plu comprises of generous chunks of blue swimmer crab meat cooked down in a Southern yellow coconut curry with peppery betel leaves. A very full-flavoured curry, it is best enjoyed with the side of sen mee, or rice noodles.
The second was the Gaeng som pla yod mapraw (THB 700), a Southern-style hot and spicy yellow curry crafted using heart of palm, pineapple, and freshly-caught fish. It had very complex flavours and was as smoky as it was sour. Not for the faint of heart due to its depth of spice, this was a definite highlight of the afternoon.
Ground floor, Capella Bangkok
300/2 Charoenkrug Road
Yannawa, Sathorn, Bangkok 10120
Tel: 02 098 3888 or 065 998 4690