If you watch Kitchen Nightmares, the downfall of many restaurants is friends getting together to start a restaurant simply because they enjoy food. It was even mentioned as one of the greatest reasons for failure in Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential. But somehow recently in Bangkok it seems that a group of friends gathering together to make a restaurant is a recipe for success.
Little Beast off of Thonglor 13 is a funky little corner bistro started by a group of friends who love to travel and eat together. Of course it helps that one of the friends is a Culinary Institute of American chef who worked at Keller’s Bouchon in New York.
From the moment you see the founders in action inside the restaurant its obvious that they love food and the restaurant they’ve created. Sure they say they’re only at 90 percent completion now, but what they’ve already started is already miles ahead of most of the hipster restaurants littering the tiny sois from Phrom Prong to Ekkamai. That’s not to say that Little Beast is perfect and will enjoyed by everyone, but it’s certainly worth checking out.
Little Beast is off a side soi to the left if you’re coming up 13 from Thonglor. You could easily drive by a hundred times and not catch the casted evil puppy that is the Little Beast’s mascot and icon. The restaurant is smaller than you’d think and yet somehow also holds more people than you think it would be able to. Even so, and though they’re just opening, I’d recommend booking in advance.
Push the tiny level to dramatically slide the thick glass door to the left and you’ll step into what appears to be a movie set for the beautiful and glamorous that you’ve somehow managed to crash. Leather seats, foraged wood accents, and dark lighting do have a way of making everyone seem a bit more attractive than they really are though.
Whichever direction you head upon entering will take you past the bar so it should be obvious that this is just as much a place for a cocktail as a modern plate of food. So be sure to sample at least one of the inventive and playful cocktails. We’ll not spoil some of the surprises here but expect a bit of smoke and flair to some also excellently crafted mixed drinks.
Then you’ll want a starter. The menu is a foodie appetizer lover’s dream; you’ve got offal, charcuterie, and more. We enjoyed the lamb meat balls with spicy sour cream and cumber salad, some chicken liver mousse puffs, and a small selection of head cheeses and offal sausages. Everything was tasty and my only regrets were not also getting the jerk chicken hearts and ordering up an ice cold beer to go with all the satisfying and surprisingly refreshing flavors.
After a frantic clearing of the starters (in casual circles one might say scarfed down) by our table came the “plates” selections. We had the asparagus and watercress salad, crispy beef with corned beef hash, corned beef tongue, and a spoon tender lamb that was off menu for the day. Hell yes. I don’t want to oversell it but each dish was solid, maybe not the most inventive or the best ever, but just really enjoyable in some way. The gooey runny egg in the corned beef hash, and that melt in your mouth, over-the top-with gaminess lamb were my standouts if I was forced to pick some highlights of the night.
Oh yeah, please take note: these guys, compared to many hip dining Thai restaurants, love their bold flavors. And they particularly love the extremes working off of each other, so expect gamey meats to really have that deep, unpleasant to some, gaminess that’s not for the faint of palette. Same goes for the veggies though too so there’s always a wonderful contrast to bring those bold flavors back.
We finished off with a couple dessert sweet treats that are definitely worth leaving some room for. I’m a sucker for anything peanut butter so I had to get the pb ice cream sandwiches with crystalized pecans. We also had the chocolate passion fruit tart, which was a good bit of egg and chocolate as dominate tastes with a slight passion fruit cutting through. The passion fruit dessert at Little Beast was highly enjoyable even with me not normally enjoying the ingredient.
I said we finished up there, because we that wasn’t the end. We also sipped some special single malt with one of the owners after the meal. This is definitely the type of place to enjoy a post meal drink, with a selection of older year single malts and cucumber gins that are playful enough to enjoy unmixed.
Little Beast is a damn enjoyable restaurant. Not the fanciest and not the craziest, but a solid all around enjoyable evening experience in whole. There aren’t many places in Bangkok you can start early and be content to take it full night. If the founding team can manage to hold the momentum they’re currently on, Bangkok will have a new all-evening option for those who would rather talk with people about things rather than shouting them over thumpy electro house. The chef has a lot more ideas she says she wants to explore, so we’re betting Little Beast will have legs past the initial opening and we’ll be back to see where it goes.