On a small side street running off Sukhumvit Soi 26 sits a small two-storey house that recently underwent a major refurbishing to emerge reborn as Mia, a highly anticipated new arrival on Bangkok’s restaurant scene.
While owner Julien Imbert is a chef in his own right — with stints at London’s Sketch, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, and Jason Atherton’s City Social on his impressive resume — at Mia he leaves the actual kitchen duties to London-trained Pongcharn “Top” Russell, familiar to most Bangkok gourmands as the former head chef at Freebird, and Top’s girlfriend Michelle Goh, former pastry chef at Sühring. Add to the team general manager Arthur Loustau, previously of Pullman G Bangkok’s Scarlett, and it’s no surprise that since opening its doors less than two months ago, this dinner-only dining spot has already created quite a buzz.
Upon entering, what strikes us most is Mia’s playful interiors. Upstairs, the dining area is divided into four sections, each with an entirely different ambience. The pink and violet ‘Flower Room’ has a deluge of colourful bouquets hanging from the rafters, while the moodier ‘Colour Room’, in which the dominant shade is green, offers round banquette booths, vintage-style floral wallpaper, and an elegant Edwardian feel. There’s also a red and black private dining room (for 10 to 12), and a very sensually mysterious, low-lit area referred to simply as the “Dark Room’. As for the restrooms, the entrance is amusingly hidden behind a bookshelf wall that swings inward when pushed.
Food-wise, the keyword at Mia is “sharing”, with most dishes served as large size portions suitable for group dining. However, sharing is also the overall food philosophy, with each chef adding his or her varied influences. The overall approach, which Julien describes as “modern European”, essentially throws the rule book out the door and allows for anything to pair with anything, as long as it works. A perfect example is the decadent truffle mac n’ cheese, made with a rich Béchamel base, flavoured with pungent French truffle, and topped with a layer of melted gooey Emmenthal cheese. “Rich as Rockefeller”, as they used to say.
This carte blanche approach is perfectly suited to chef Top, one of Thailand’s most promising young kitchen talents. He brings an incredible amount of passion, knowledge, and flair to his culinary creations, without relying on showy gimmicks. Even the use of liquid nitrogen in his healthy and heavenly beetroot pappardelle with goat cheese and candied walnut crumble, is about purpose not performance.
Many of the offerings at Mia play upon the idea of ‘elevated’ comfort food — kitchen classics given a gourmet spin. A tasty example is the generously portioned, meaty grilled pork chop, which is beautifully enhanced with a light peppercorn sauce — almost more of a glaze — and a scoop of addictively delicious chorizo jam. By contrast, the tarte tatin, the restaurants’ most Instagrammed dish where pastry chef Michelle really gets to show off her skill, is kept traditional in almost every sense. Enough to satisfy four persons, this classic French buttery crust dessert consists of baked apples slices in a salted caramel sauce, served with homemade vanilla ice cream.
Another standout menu item is the wonderfully complex Norwegian salmon cooked in Kombu (kelp) oil. Served in a glazed earthenware bowl, the thick slab of fish lazes in a dreamy potato velouté — tinged green by dill — topped with salmon roe, shiso, and a salsa of diced tofu, green apple, and cucumber.
And don’t proceed to the mains without sampling the diminutive but delightful uni tart; a crispy shortcrust pastry shell filled with squid-ink custard and topped with a dollop of sweet sea-urchin roe. This dish, a Top and Julien co-creation, is actually much too good to share.
Signature cocktails from the main floor bar — yet another seating area option — include the Thrill of the Dill, a light refreshing mix of gin, St. Germain liqueur, cucumber bitter, lime, dill, and Pisco Demonio de Los Andes. Topped with egg foam and a sprig of fragrant green dill, Arthur suggests it as an ideal pairing with cold starters like the scallop carpaccio.
Also on the compact but concise cocktail list is Mia Magnifique, a vodka-based concoction made with local butterfly pea flower, guava juice, lime juice, and sparkling wine. As for wine in its unadulterated form, Mia’s list features over 100 labels, served with very reasonable mark ups.
On the whole Mia is an excellent addition to Bangkok’s ever-expanding dining scene, offering much more than your average bistro but still keeping the atmosphere casual. And any place that lets the power duo of chefs Top and Michelle do their thing is always going to be worthy of a visit.
6-11:30pm, Tuesday – Sunday. 09 8862 9659. miarestaurantbkk.com.