After closing for renovation in August last year, 80/20 has daringly made a comeback with a new look while still espousing the same goal: to bring traditional Thai charm to Fine dining using French cooking techniques and no shortage – absolutely no shortage – of locally-sourced ingredients.

Helmed by Napol “Joe” Jantraget and Pastry Chef Saki Hoshino, the husband-and-wife duo have long been making a name for themselves thanks to their innovative tweaks on regional Thai cuisine. Once following an 80/20 ratio of Thai to imported ingredients, now the venue has fully swung to using 100 per cent Thailand grown-and-raised produce and meat products.

Arising from their major refurbishment this time was not just a more intimate space, but also a new 9-course menu, which still stays true to their unique play on rare local ingredients cooked with modern methods to create exciting new flavours. The menu also unfolds in a medley of Asian cuisine-inspired dishes which showcase Joe and Saki’s recent culinary trips in Thailand, Malaysia, Japan and Taiwan. All in all, they keep up with the parameter of flavours that suit the Asian food-lover’s palate.

We had the privilege to indulge in their new culinary creations recently. Read on for our full review below to get a glimpse of the new 80/20.

Ambience

Located in one of Bangkok’s oldest riverfront districts, 80/20 boasts a dark-hued dining space of black and brown, very much like other fine-dining restaurants. What sets them apart though is the fermentation room up front where they keep all things fermented inside like a not-so-secret science lab. There’s also a wall embellished with Thai mural paintings, which coalesces impressively with the vibe of the old-school and hip neighbourhood it sits in.

Aside from that, the dining room has been enlarged to accommodate diners and large parties more comfortably whilst the open kitchen has also been extended to give diners a more vivid view of how the food gets made. Those who like to take a front-row seat, intimate seating positioned close to the kitchen is also available for a superb front-row view.

Food & Drink
The food here truly takes on Thai flavours. Co-mingling together regional Thai cuisine with French cooking methods, the 9-course menu truly showcases Thai food in the realm of fine dining. With the use of 100 per cent locally-sourced ingredients, 80/20’s food flaunts a Thai aesthetic which shows their commitment to Thai cuisine.

We first cosied up with the Chili Roulette, the menu’s first amuse bouche or what the restaurant would refer to as a “snack”. The deceptive, chili-infused dish, which is made from green bean puree spiced with rendang curry paste, was presented among a bouquet of actual red and green chillies, making a fun guessing game for diners and giving everyone a good laugh before the real meal started.

What we particularly felt peachy about was the next dish of Goat Tartare and Fermented Rice Coconut Crêpe. Inspired from the Indian palappam pancake which is made from fermented rice and coconut milk batter, the crispy crêpe is used to envelop the tartare made out of minced goat meat which has been dry-aged for 2 days straight to get the concentrated meaty flavour. Dressed in fish sauce caramel and masala aioli, the goat tartare definitely won our hearts with its fish-saucy deliciousness.

Once the amuse bouche had revived our appetites, we then sated our hunger with the next dish, the Curry Puff with Spicy Banana Blossom and Sweet Black Banana Sauce. Known as Thailand’s favourite finger food, 80/20’s version set itself apart from the typical chicken-filling puff with khua kling curry-spiked banana blossom filling. Served with ripe banana sauce cooked until it darkens, the curry puff boasted a pungent kick that was a perfect counterpart to the sweet black banana sauce.

As we delved deeper into the melodious sound of a pestle hitting a mortar, created by one of the chefs who was eagerly making the fresh curry paste, our next dish was served and we were sure amazed by its elegant presentation. The firm smoked catfish was minimally enlivened by the fish mousse, fermented coconut cream and tangy pickled kale stem for acidity. Kale crisps and fried betel leaves were also placed stylishly atop the fish to give the much-needed crunch as a toothsome contrast to other soft elements within the dish.

Lover of Thai deep-fried crispy pork will undoubtedly swoon over the main dish – A Dream of Trang BBQ Pork. Helped along with sides like the steamed seasonal mushroom-infused sticky rice and house-made fermented chili sauce, this dish, on its own, was simply a perfect umami-packed meal.

In partnership with Foodie Collection Group by Choti and Debby Leenutaphong (founders of Il Fumo, Vesper, Via Maris, La Dotta and La Dotta La Grassa), the establishment also offers mean cocktails curated by Supawit “Palm” Muttarattana – the restaurant group’s and Vesper’s talented bar manager. We recommend Fon, which is one of their signature cocktails. Made from Grandma Jinn’s, pandan, coconut, hoarfrost, oolong tea and palm sugar, the light saffron-shade drink is perfectly reminiscent of a rainy day with a strong earthy smell from the dirt after rain.

Verdict

80/20’s major refurbishment didn’t wear away the flair of their drive towards contemporary Thai cuisine. It has always been that if you’re craving for toothsome creativity in a Thai dish, here’s where to get it; they serve up modernity rooted in true Thai tastes. Here’s also a place where you can gorge on fine-dining fare and be fully immersed in first-class food and friendly Thai-style hospitality without feeling a bit overwhelmed or choked by any five-star pretentiousness.

Opening Hours: Tue-Sun, 6-11 pm.
Recommended Dishes:  Goat Tartare with Fermented Rice Coconut Crêpe and A Dream of Trang BBQ Pork

Price: THB 3,000++ for the 9-course tasting menu (additional of THB 1,400++ for wine pairing)

Noise Level: Moderate
Service: Attentive and very friendly

80/20, 1052-1054 Charoen Krung 26, Bangrak, Bangkok, +662 234 2822

Kankanit Wichiantanon
Writer, Bangkok
Kankanit is a writer by day and a baker by night. If there’s one thing you should know about her, it’s that she can wax poetic about food 24/7. Her daily routine is writing, cooking, eating, repeat. They are the things that inspire her from morning 'til night.