Lifestyle Curators for Thailand + Southeast Asia

Making a Statement

Lifestyle playground KU DÉ TA arrived to Bangkok to revolutionize the city’s dining and entertainment landscape.

Bars, restaurants, and clubs in a city come and go, especially in one like Bangkok, where the gastronomic and entertainment markets are so dynamic. To offer a unique selling proposition to a public that has so many options to choose from, making a strong initial statement can help.

“The sudden, violent overthrow of an existing government by a small group.” That is how Encyclopedia Britannica defines the French expression “coup d’état” and, determined to change the present state of the dining and entertainment scene in the city, KU DÉ TA Bangkok made a statement when it entered the market October 18 with a launch party that gathered the best-known faces of the country’s party scene, while it continues to offer exceptional cuisine and fun nights out that people keep going back to.

The Place
By Marianna Dietrich

They say that the cream rises to the top. Looking down on the glittering skyline from Bangkok’s newest venue, perched 40 floors above Sathorn, it is easy to see the truth of this statement.

KU DÉ TA is akin to a “lifestyle playground” consisting of three world-class restaurants (of which two are currently open), seven themed bars, and two nightclubs. Having already achieved success first in Bali and then in Singapore—although KU DÉ TA Bangkok’s management is only the same as Singapore’s—the brand seeks to live up to its name and revolutionize the dining and entertainment landscape in the city.

To help achieve this goal, the brand handpicked executive chef Jonathan Maza to design each of the restaurant’s menus. His mix of French techniques with Asian accents reflects years of experience opening fine-dining restaurants internationally. Maza, who started working in professional kitchens at the age of 14, has held the title of head sushi chef at Sansei in Honolulu, and he was selected by chef Nobu Matsuhisa to open Nobu in both the Bahamas and Melbourne.

With such an international resume, Maza sought to create a distinct dining experience at each of KU DÉ TA’s restaurants. Signature presents Asian flavors with a modern twist, and it oozes elegance through its hand-carved ceilings, banquettes, and views of the Bangkok skyline.

Izakaya, located on the 39th floor, is a traditional Japanese Robatayaki charcoal grill and sushi bar that seeks to “capture the comfort of eating in an old Japanese social setting.” The restaurant features an open kitchen, fresh imported fish, and premium Japanese beer on tap, as well as a comprehensive sake menu.

A wine list consisting of New and Old World wines selected by award-winning sommelier, Nikom Puangkham, is a complement to each of the three restaurants’ meticulously crafted menus.

KU DÉ TA’s bars and clubs, which spread over the 39th and 40th floors, include: Club Lounge, Ku Bar, Soundgarden & Amber Bar, and Aviary, while Grill Bar and Member’s Club will open in early 2014.

The dress code is smart, stylish, and chic. No shorts, slippers, or tank tops.

The Food
By Anita Zaror

Umami. I tasted it several times while trying dishes at KU DÉ TA’s Signature restaurant.

Umami is the kind of flavor that makes you say “Mm!” about a meal that you enjoy. On a more scientific level, it is a pleasant savory taste imparted by a type of amino acid called glutamate, and by ribonucleotides, which occurs naturally in many foods, including vegetables, meat, fish, and dairy products.

KU DE TA-Thai-SmoresExamples of umami-rich foods are kombu, seaweed, bonito and dried bonito flakes, mackerel, tuna, prawns, shellfish, chicken, green tea, and soy sauce, as well as tomatoes, shiitake mushrooms, soybeans, and other vegetables. As Signature has defined itself as a “Modern Asian” restaurant specializing in seafood, many of these products are present in its dishes. “We want sensory perception to come at you from different angles,” explains chef Jon Maza. To achieve this, special attention has been paid to layering and balancing flavors, using organic and often imported ingredients that are cooked to precision and presented in a visually appealing way. As guests relax to lounge music, immersed in a chic and dimly lit interior as Bangkok’s city lights shimmer in the distance, dining at Signature may be an alluring experience for all the senses.

Chef Maza started working on the brand’s kitchen design in January 2013; menu development took six months, during which 12 to 15 people tested dishes they would sometimes revise up to 16 times to get them exactly as they liked them. “There was a lot of thought process that went into the ingredients, the techniques that cooked them, the equipment that it’s being cooked on, the plate that it’s going on. Everything was meticulously thought out,” explains Maza.

KU DE TA-Miso-ChowderStart with a maguro tataki, salmon white kelp, and madai disho. Pair it with KU DÉ TA’s house wine, the 2012 Astrolabe Province Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, from New Zealand. A wine with a powerful aroma where lemon peel, lemongrass, and white fruit come into play. Dry, with medium-high acidity, and quite a long finish, it goes well with the sashimi and even with the asparagus tempura, which is not an easy pairing. But the dish that really made me think of umami was the madai chowder, consisting of Japanese sea bream and a miso chowder. Vegetables, fish, and flavors reminiscent of Japan kick in slowly, separately, increasingly, till they get to where they are supposed to be: Mm! This dish is a clear and wonderful representation of the layers and balance of flavors that Chef Maza has devised for Signature.

When dessert comes into play, Executive Pastry Chef Jason Licker makes sure to give the dining experience at KU DÉ TA the sweet ending it deserves. His training in French cuisine techniques and international experience—including nine years in Asia—come to KU DÉ TA in the form of desserts like Sang Som cappuccino, made with Sang Som foam, milk ice cream, and chocolate coffee crumble, or the Thai s’mores. “I love drinking Thai tea, so we’re making it into ice cream, putting it inside a marshmallow, and burning it,” Licker explains. Boom! The result is probably the best fusion of classic Thai and American flavors to be found in a dessert in Bangkok today.

In this way, KU DÉ TA has already made quite a statement, and more will come in 2014 when the venue is fully operational.