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Kwann’s reimagined Thai cuisine revolves around smoke, flames, and the fires of creativity

by Niranjana Mittal

Blazing a Trail.

By: Aiden Jewelle Gonzales

An element that has forever transformed humanity’s history, including how we cook our food. Culinary history shows that cooking with fire introduced new nutrients to our food, reduced disease, and prompted the extraction of new and exciting flavours from ingredients, whether it’s the charred smokiness from wood-fired grilling; or the succulent intensity you gain from a slow simmer.

Recently, I’d noticed that cooking with open flames is slowly regaining popularity; an offshoot of the culinary movement to honour age-old heritage techniques. Thus, when I first heard of Kwann, tucked into NYSA Hotel in Sukhumvit Soi 13 and the latest addition to the renowned Kingston Hotels Group, I was intrigued to learn of their premise. Kwann or ควัน, meaning smoke in Thai, features dishes that revolve around fire, charcoal, and smoking techniques, all of which breathe life into their innovative menu of Thai classics.


While you can find Kwann in one of Sukhumvit’s busiest streets, the hotel and indeed the restaurant itself is an oasis amidst the city’s frenetic bustle. With interiors designed by Leo International Design Group, the restaurant features atmospheric lighting; dark furnishings with natural elements; and eye-catching art. Despite its intimate feel, it’s surprisingly spacious, with a variety of seating in the main space for up to 40 people, from plush chairs and marble-topped tables, to high seating at a table made of a magnificent slab of wood, which rightfully takes centre stage. Around the corner is a private dining room that can seat up to 12, perfect for celebratory events with friends or family.

An open kitchen takes up an entire side of the restaurant, from which you can watch the chefs prepare their culinary art. Beyond, behind a glass partition, you can watch open flames dance in a brick-lined area, as the experts show their deft control of this fascinating element. I’ll admit, I spent a good five minutes staring in awe at the spectacle.  


With an ethos that focus on marrying modern innovation with the raw power of charcoal cooking, Kwann uses local ingredients and traditional recipes, while elevating the dishes with contemporary innovation. “Where there’s smoke, there’s flavour,” is what I’m told at Kwann, and this focus on distilling flavour through fire and smoke, while stimulating all your senses, can be seen throughout their menu. The team behind the concept is the same one from Nawa Thai Cuisine and Aunglo by Yangrak, bringing years of experience and their love for Thai cuisine to each dish.

Our dinner began with a welcome drink prepared tableside, consisting of kombucha tea, topped with pineapple and ginger foam, and chocolate charcoal powder. Of course, a smoked element was introduced into the concoction, lending the dish an aromatic and smooth finish that was an intriguing start to the rest of our meal.

The restaurant has both a tasting menu and à la carte options, and we opted for the Chef’s Choice Tasting Menu 5 course (THB 3,300 net), with a select few à la carte dishes that were specially recommended by the restaurant’s team. We began with the restaurant’s famed Crab beignets (THB 280 for 3 pieces), served in a mini treasure chest that you can open for an interactive element. Packed with flavour, each one is armed with a kick from its stuffing of Southern curry sauce, and served on a betel leaf to offset its heat. Although this starter isn’t on their tasting menu, I would highly recommend you order it, as it was one of the unanimous favourites of the night.

The tasting menu begins with a selection of ‘snacks;’ light bites that will whet your appetite. Although we didn’t try the Raw petchaburi oyster, the Fired sauteed green beans “kra tong thong” made with sea grape paste, seaweed batter, and truffle was refreshing, with the right hint of tartness; while I was in raptures over the Thai wagyu beef tartare, made with beef garum with spice well incorporated in the form of chilli paste powder, and irresistible spheres of smoked egg yolk, served with a side of moreish charcoal crackers.

With our appetites fired up, as it were, we were ready to move on to the appetiser, which was their Lightly charred local fish salad, whose precise preparation one could watch in the open kitchen. Topped with compressed watermelon, which added a hint of sweetness to the piquant dish; the spicy tomato vinaigrette with a dash of makrut lime was the star of the show, bringing everything together into a zesty whole. For those not ordering from the tasting menu, or if you’re looking for a vegetarian option, the “ Yum” of local seaweed and cucumber (THB 350), made with seaweed paste and a spicy local citrus vinaigrette, was a textural and herbaceous option that is unexpected in its mix of umami and mildly astringent flavours.

The soup course consisted of “Tom kati” smoked coconut soup, and while my bias might show as this is one of my favourite of traditional Thai soups, I can honestly say that this was one of the better ones I’ve had the delight to sample. Poured tableside from a small kettle, the soup consists of fire-roasted shrimp, shallots for crispiness, and shrimp paste for a deep savoury richness that we couldn’t get enough of.

Although we were almost approaching replete with all the intriguing flavours we’d tried so far, we had yet to move on to the mains, the first of which was the Nam prik ga la goong, a relish made with grilled coconut and shrimps and served in a coconut bowl, that looked almost too good to eat. This one isn’t for the faint of heart – it packs a delectable punch, offset by the pops of sweetness from the seasonal fruits and vegetables. The Soy marinated yellow tail tuna that followed was a fresh surprise, with a zesty orange vinaigrette to reset our palette and pomelo for a touch of local flavour. Although we didn’t try the Grilled leek with oyster sauce, we ended our mains with the Smoked short ribs, tender and melt-in-your-mouth, with lashings of massaman curry sauce and seasonal ajad for an indulgent and heartwarming dish.

Satisfied, and with our hearts and stomach full, we stopped for a palette cleanser in the form of their Grilled pineapple sorbet with pineapple vinaigrette for intriguing piquancy, before ending the meal with their beautiful and architectural Coconut and corn butter ice-cream, consisting of coconut meringue, coconut cake, and popcorn – a mix of flavours that we would never have put together, but somehow just worked.


The Kwann style roasted duck (THB 1,300 for half portion; THB 2,500 for full portion). You’re first introduced to it as they present it in a pot, and as the smoke clears, you see it resting on a bed of aromatic flowers. Afterwards, it’s served in a delectable spread, with an array of condiments and in-house hoisin sauce, and of course, Chinese pancakes to wrap each delightful bite of tender meat and flavourful fixings


Ground Floor, NYSA Hotel, 73/7-8, Soi Sukhumvit 13, Khlong Toei Nuea, Watthana, Bangkok 10110

Open on Tuesdays to Sundays, from 6am to 11pm

Tel:  02 079 6988

Facebook & Instagram: @kwannrestaurant

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