When it comes to traditional Thai food prepared under the watchful eye of a foreign chef in Bangkok, Nahm at the Metropolitan hotel dishes out some of the best fare in the city. We recently had the opportunity to not only sample Nahm’s dishes but also chat with its Australian-born executive chef and founder David Thompson.
You opened the first Nahm at the Halkin hotel in London in 2001. What inspired you to open another restaurant in Bangkok?
I have been living in Bangkok on and off since 1986. My London restaurant did really well and in 2002 became the first Michelin-starred Thai restaurant in Europe. I decided to take a lighter, more easy-going approach when I opened Nahm Bangkok in 2010.
How does Nahm Bangkok differ from Nahm London?
My aim is to cater to locals. I use some old favorites from London, such as ma hor (a classic Thai canape). But many – in fact, most – of the dishes here are new. Bangkok allows me to cook for Thais in Thailand. I prepare and cook intensely flavored dishes attuned to ingredients that simply cannot be found outside of the country. The place is more relaxed than my London restaurant – much as the Thais are themselves.
So what kind of taste does the restaurant cater to?
Our dishes cater to any taste – from the most unadventurous and timid to the super brave. Westerners seem to have trouble with fermented foods, cured fish. It’s the same as when Asians are confronted by smelly blue cheese.
Does the restaurant have a signature dish?
A curry with snake-headed local fish known as pla chorn grown in the water of rice paddies. It’s an ugly looking fish, but the flesh is delectable – firm, plum, sweet, and entirely delicious.
Do you have any personal favorites when it comes to Thai cuisine?
I love any kind of fermented fish, but that’s me being full on. Also, I would get up from my grave for durian. A huge slab of durian would definitely be a part of my last meal.
27 South Sathron Road, Tungmahamek, Sathorn, Bangkok; 66-2/625-3333
Read more about Nahm and other top spots for Thai food in Bangkok here.
Photo of David Thompson by Jason Michael Lang