Bangkok gets today a new supper club – a pre-booked, chef’s table-style dinner – and it’s not even gonna break the bank.
Formerly a small and “secret” hangout for the friends of chef-slash-owner Pikun “Kate” Wangsatian during the pandemic, Kate’s Place will open later this week to offer intimate, casual private dining serving her “uplifting” and “happy” home-cooked Thai dishes.
With a resume that includes Michelin-starred restaurants such as Suhring and Canvas, Kate said she decided to open her own venture to serve recipes that depend largely on her “mood and what’s left in the fridges.”
When the pandemic hit the hardest last year – with on-and-off regulations such as bans on dining-in and serving alcohol – Kate’s Place originally started off as a “secret club” for friends to gather for a chat, meal, drink, and more.
Of course, Kate would be over the kettle in the kitchen, preparing meals to everyone’s delight.
“There was no menu back then, even” she said. “I just used the ingredients I had in the fridges … [My friends] loved what I cooked and soon after, through word of mouth, the number of people grew to more than one table could hold.”
“I didn’t even know what a supper club was, but it turned out that’s what I was doing,” she added.
While her years of experience backing the kitchens of prestigious fine restos helped launch her pro cooking career, Kate sought to learn more about Thai cuisine. So she traveled to the north to enroll in a cooking class with Hanuman Aspler, a physician-turned-Thai food scholar and founder of school-slash-blog Thaifoodmaster.
Training under established chefs gives her day-one credibility with diners. However, to establish her own brand, Kate hit the road. Instead of passively sourcing ingredients from around the kingdom, she set out to find them herself, visiting local markets and vendors from north to south.
“I love going to markets,” she stressed, her eyes sparkling at the topic. “Recently I went to Mae Hong Son and visited local markets in the early morning. I got to explore so many things, many ingredients that I have never seen or heard before.”
Kate said Nan province is her next destination.
Kate will open her place with a nine-course meal under a Thai-Chinese theme to mark the upcoming Chinese New Year. Meals are THB990 (US$30) per person.
As mentioned, Kate’s dishes rely heavily on the ingredients available in the kitchen. And it has many to offer, from riceberry and strawberries grown in the north to red snapper and giant prawns from the south.
When it comes to Thai-Chinese cuisine, steamed fish is a staple. Perfect for sharing is the steamed red snapper, fresh from Ranong province, cooked to silky perfection before deluged in pickle lime sauce. Packed with incredible flavors comes a gigantic sea prawn stir-fried until lightly crispy with chili and lime.
Another plate that may surprise many is the Panang Curry with Braised Beef, which Kate cunningly prepares differently with seasonal fruit such as strawberries soaked in the curry, completing the dish with a new, tart dimension.
Among the impressively delicious courses, the highlights are the cozy, creamy Tom Kha Kai, or Thai coconut soup, with a cabbage roll stuffed with a scallop. Another top-notch dish is perfectly pungent fermented soybean paste originating from Thailand’s north, Nam Prik Tua Nao, accompanied by vegetables. Bite by bite, the craving increases rather than diminishes.
Full-course meals will rotate with prices capped at THB1,500 (US$45) per person, Kate said.
Kate’s Place can be booked in advance. The venue can be reserved for private parties with a custom menu. Otherwise, it’s now open 6pm until 10pm every day on the second floor of Boonlang Noodles in Soi Sukhumvit 36.