Overlooking the Wat Pho Temple, Nusara Walks from Past to Future

Earlier this year, I finally revisited Bangkok and had the pleasure of dining with Tam (Chaisiri Tassanakajohn), the co-founder of the acclaimed Nusara restaurant, who is also the younger brother of Le Du’s Chef Ton (Thitid Tassanakajohn). Since its opening in 2020, Nusara has proved hugely popular for its unique Thai cuisine and family-influenced culinary traditions, garnering a third place at last year’s Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants.

@Jocelyn華姐的Tastytrip

Wandering through this area, one can appreciate the glamour of a bygone Old Town era which is brimming with street food, massage parlours, and traditional convenience stores. Exploring this amazing district demands a full day. In the 10-seat dining room overlooking the Wat Pho temple complex – a first-class royal temple renowned for its 46-meter giant golden reclining Buddha – Nusara provides an intimate setting where modernity meets tradition, which not many restaurants in Bangkok can provide. The floor-to-ceiling windows on the top floor surely do not let visitors down.

Tam shares the inspiration behind Nusara, the challenges faced, and the pursuit of innovative Thai cuisine. He says that while he hoped Nusara would be recognized, the success exceeded his expectations. “It was an indescribable surprise when we realized Nusara was starting to make its mark in the food world.” While many of Nusara’s recipes originate from the royal kitchens of King Rama V, who ruled Thailand until the early 1900s, they also contain many typical Indian spices. The trend has become a Renaissance in Bangkok, with Michelin-starred Samrub researching and reproducing lost flavours. When I did the interview with Mr. Yip from The Chairman and Chef Xu Jingye from 102 Shanghai, they also talked about their common passion to restore ancient recipes. For me, this is something incredibly meaningful, because we can hardly move towards the future without knowing how the past has led us to where we are.

Nusara stems from Tam and Ton’s grandmother, who had a profound influence on their career. ” Nusara is named after our beloved grandmother. She is not only an important part of our childhood but also the source of our passion for food and cooking.” The menu at Nusara draws inspiration from family recipes and traditional Thai royal cuisine, infused with modern culinary techniques.

Nusara places emphasis on originality and experimentation, offering a tasting menu that encompasses a beautiful array of 12 dishes. The amuse-bouche features Shrimp Tart, Fishball Coconut Tart, Sundried Fish Dumpling, and Beef Tartare Wrapped in Baked Tomato Skin, each a meticulously crafted morsel designed to awaken the taste buds. Following these you have Smoked King Mackerel & Tom Som Broth. The tender flesh of the smoked mackerel is paired with a light, refreshing and spicy Tom Som foam, highlighted by the aroma of lemongrass. It offers a brand-new take on the classic Thai fish soup.

Smoked King Mackerel & Tom Som Broth

The Squid with Cucumber and Heirloom Tomato is a refreshing and appetizing starter, where translucent slices of squid are combined with finely diced cucumber and sweet-tart heirloom tomato, showcasing the natural freshness of the ingredients. Next they serve a dish that creatively uses elastic pork intestine stuffed with eggs and crunchy wing beans to offer a balanced flavour portfolio.

Sweet Hokkaido raw scallop is enhanced by the acidity of kaffir lime, evoking a Peruvian cevichedish. This is followed by a thick sweetcorn soup paired with cured egg yolk, adding texture and taste while also boosting the soup’s umami. The Gourami Fish and Tom Kha is presented in a unique way: the dry-aged and deep-fried fish is combined with creamy coconut milk soup to maximise its delicate flavour. Dressed in fish sauce and peanut sauce, seasonal greens showcase the fresh and succulent local vegetables, bringing a new spin to classic Thai cuisine. Main dishes include River Prawns with Pineapple, Green Curry with Smoked Chicken, and Smoked Short Ribs with Holy Basil Leaf – each a modern reinterpretation of traditional Thai delicacies. To conclude, Pink Guava & Roselle Parfait and Sago & Young Coconut suffice for a memorable ending while paying homage to traditional Thai desserts.  Smoked Short Ribs & Holy Basil Leaf

Pink Guava & Roselle Parfait

On the creation of the wine bar on the first floor, Tam shares, “Our signature Thai cocktail is infused with local ingredients to create a flavour that is both familiar and new.”

In the face of challenges and uncertainty, especially during covid, when there was no sign of when the country would reopen, Tam made a courageous decision to sign the contract for the building. “Starting the journey with Nusara was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made,” he says.

Nusara is not just a place serving good food, it represents the inheritance of family traditions. Each dining experience is a journey, while Tam and his team are the guides on that journey.

Author: Jocelyn 华姐

Photo: Peray Hsiao、instagram@nusarabkk

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Jocelyn Chen
Jocelyn Chen
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