At 27, Pattarawit “Park” Junthai has already unlocked some serious achievements in the Thai culinary scene. He represented Thailand to cook for the Dalai Lama, is the personal chef for a prominent political family and advises restaurants run by megabrewer ThaiBev.
Recently the young chef opened his own “alternative” ramen joint called Chim on Soi Sukhumvit 33. Calling the restaurant his own “experimental lab,” he said it was born of his weariness with the iconic Japanese noodle dish.
“I’ve been to ramen places said to be the best in Bangkok and found them quite all the same,” Park said, adding that they share similar ingredients such as pork broth-based soup, wheat noodles and chashu pork belly.
Park’s ramen bowls are influenced by four culinary styles — Thai, Japanese, French and Indian. His ramen offerings soar beyond Japan’s authenticity and instead find exciting combinations through ingredients not common to the dish by adding Indian farmer’s cheese, Italian truffles and Thai poo na, or rice field crabs.
A graduate in culinary arts and management from Dusit Thani College, Park brought home numerous cooking trophies before joining Thailand’s national chef team. Last year, he was invited to cook for the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader at a conference in India.
“I didn’t even know who the Dalai Lama was. I had to look him up on Google,” Park said. The food he prepared for the world-famous figure included Thai massaman curry, tom yum mushroom and a nam prik spicy dip with mushrooms.
“Dalai Lama spoke in English to me, and he thanked me for the food. He told me he never had Thai food before. He said it was a little too spicy for him,” Park said.
But back to Park’s new restaurant. On its extensive menu, he dedicates a full page to all things vegan and vegetarian. Park recommends as an appetizer the Paneer with Truffle Sauce (THB180), a plate of grilled paneer — the soft cheese popular in Indian cuisine — made from scratch (“I’ve wasted tons and tons of organic milk until the recipe is finalized”). The paneer is placed on top of truffle sauce that unexpectedly pairs well with deep-fried shallots, coriander and red radish slices. The menu is seasonal and prepared in limited quantities.
Another much-loved appetizer is Chim’s Tofu (THB125), also vegan and vegetarian-friendly. Resulting from the art of double deep-frying, the tofu cubes are super crispy outside and custardy soft within. The accompanying caramelized onion sauce is slowly cooked to bring out its naturally sweet flavor.
Making use of his father’s retirement pastime — shrimp farming in Nakhon Pathom province — Park adds fusion twists to his flavor-packed ramen. Inspired by French-style lobster bisque, Chim’s Ramen (THB335) comes with a bowl of shrimp stock — long-simmered shrimp shells — sauteed corn; wood ear shrooms; soy sauce-marinated, soft-boiled egg; wheat noodles. The bowl is finished off with a whole grilled giant river prawn, decorated with milk froth and finely ground shrimp paste.
Fans of Park’s homemade paneer will enjoy his vegetarian ramen bowl dubbed Sesame Ramen with Paneer (THB300). The hearty bowl is special for its rich and milky-thick broth of vegetable stock, sesame seeds, soy and peanuts. Instead of animal meat, the dish features a smoky paneer and soy sauce-marinated egg instead. The dish gets a good spicy kick thanks to the red-hued, Japanese chili-laced noodles.
The other ramen dishes on offer range from Sesame Ramen with Tofu (THB270), Dry Beef Tongue Ramen (THB345) and Dry Ramen with Kani Miso (crab paste) (THB365).
Chim Ramen opens from 11:30am until 10pm every day except Monday. It is located on Soi Sukhumvit 33 and can be reached from BTS Phrom Phong.
Soi Sukhumvit 33, Watthana, Bangkok
Opens 11:30am – 10pm daily, except Monday
Phone: +6685 549 6324
BTS: Phrom Phong
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