From the Teens of Thailand and Asia Today people come two new venues – Black King Bar and Tax — that are arguably the most exciting new additions to the nightlife scene in the past pandemic-riddled year.
Occupying adjacent shophouses, both revamped by Gunn Leelhasuwan, Black King Bar and Tax feature similar stripped-down aesthetics. In Black King, you’ll find raw concrete decorated with contemporary art, including some cheeky calligraphy in the back of the dining room. Tax, meanwhile, boasts exposed concrete beams, dark hardwood floors, and splashes of yellow light flickering against an atrium visible high above the bar, a la Teens of Thailand. In both spaces, the walls or pillars are splotched with paint, like abstract layers of gold leaf, adding a handsome touch to the carefully carved out interiors.
Overseen by Karit “Gong” Yuvaboon, Black King uses Italian food as a palette to experiment with new flavor combinations, particularly those that draw on Asian cuisines. You may have seen their beautifully puffy pizzas on social media. Specifically, the Black King, with its charcoal-black crust, chopped scallop, squid, and bacon (THB345).
The secret to this eye-catching creation is squid ink: enough to lend the 72-hour-raised, lightly charred crust and jet-black sauce a faint umami, but not enough to turn you off it. Other dishes on the menu likewise pack in a lot of flavor, thanks to a near-obsessive attention to detail.
The mariana pizza (THB245) is topped with white anchovies—milder in taste than the standard tinned fish — to give it some pop. A spin on their Inglorious AOP (THB399 small / THB650 large) adds chunks of Surat Thani tiger prawn to a chili-flecked dish of al dente pasta, which is then coated in oven-baked prawn head fat to give it even more punch. And house-made red and green pesto elevate a seafood stew, loaded with clams and sea snails (THB490), which begs to be soaked up with the squid ink bread served on the side.
At Black King, there’s a selection of easy-drinking cocktails and lots of wine, but if you’re after just drinks, you’re most likely heading upstairs to Tax. Here, Niks Anuman-Rajadhon has overseen a menu built on vinegars made from beer and spirits. He and his bar team use a kind of SCOBY that eats alcohol and leaves a slightly fizzy vinegar in its wake.
The resulting products are used as bases for a small menu of four cocktails. Of these, the Lager (THB380) might be the most complex: a briny drink based on, yes, a lager vinegar that includes shrimp paste, coffee, coconut sugar, and celery bitters in the build. The Riesling (THB380), on the other hand, is a more refreshing option. Made with bell pepper vermouth, riesling vinegar, a cumin shrub, some Campari, passionfruit, and tiger’s ear leaf, it balances bitter and fruity notes, and it goes down very easy.
There’s a lot of good stuff going on in surprisingly unpretentious packages. Not to mention the folks making all this stuff have pretty well-established F&B bona fides.
Black King Bar is located on Maitri Chit Road and can be reached from MRT Hua Lamphong. It opens from 3pm through 11pm every day, except Monday.