In a contemporary atmosphere, chef Max Wittawat serves meals that are both elegant and rustic.
Slate-colored bowl with grilled chicken slices and dipping sauce is accompanied by other items.
In the manner of Thai street sellers, chicken is roasted over charcoal at Bangkok Supper Club.
For thirteen years, Max Wittawat worked as the pastry chef at Spot Dessert Bar. Occasionally, you may detect the influence of his previous work in the Thai cuisine he currently prepares at Bangkok Supper Club, a recently opened restaurant in the West Village.
His ceviche of scallops is really a dessert, or the start of one. A pink mound of watermelon granita with tiny cubes of fresh watermelon and slivers of mint leaves in it is buried with pieces of scallop. A flash of spicy red chilies and other flavors—garlic, fish sauce, and pickled watermelon rind—that aren’t often found in sweets are detected when the ice crystals melt.
Less visibly, Mr. Wittawat’s heritage is also evident. He treats rice as though it were dough, bringing forth a range of textures from airily crisp to soothingly chewy. Comes with sticky rice shaped like a burger patty and gently grilled like one, along with chicken roasted over charcoal in the vein of a street seller in Bangkok. You may break out lumps of the rice cake to chew on during the moments between bits of chicken fragrant with lemongrass and to dip into the liquids left behind on the dish, but its flavor is limited to soy and char.
The culinary manager, Max Wittawat, spent many years working as a pastry chef.
Fish sauce, garlic, and other Thai spices are combined with raw scallops and watermelon granita.
An additional sticky rice disk receives an entirely different treatment. It is as interesting as it is difficult to place. Flattened like a pupusa and griddled to a dark gold, it tastes nutty and peppery with crunchy surfaces and a murmur of Sichuan peppercorn. Although it could overshadow an exquisitely designed lobster arrangement, the rice cake is intended to serve as its backdrop.
Subtle pieces of fried pig jowl are served with the jasmine rice that he steams. It’s smooth with hog fat and has a great clumpiness, assuming that’s not a pun. It’s satiny and fluffy, but yet sufficiently starchy to keep everything together and adhere to the crispy pig cracklings and golden fried garlic flakes sprinkled on top.
Mr. Wittawat uses a fairly standard method of frying rice paper to create airy white puffs. He then dusts them with a powder made of toasted rice, galangal, and lemongrass, which gives them the texture and flavor of a flatbread, perhaps a hotter version of carta di musica. These crackers may be used to spread a visually appealing version of goi, a northeastern Thai salad made with raw beef from the Lao people. The beef is seasoned with mint, culantro, aromatic makrut lime leaf threads, and enough dried chilies, chopped like tartare, to make it the spiciest dish on a menu that often leans toward the mild side.
Pork jowl slices, with their light inside and glossy, golden outside, are arranged in a metal bowl with additional garnishes such as a lime wedge.
Above puffy cracklings and jasmine rice sticky with pig grease is fried pork jowl.
Mr. Wittawat owns Bangkok Supper Club alongside Chat Suansilphong and Jennifer Saesue, who own Fish Cheeks, another Thai restaurant in NoHo. Fish Cheeks offers home-style, traditional Thai cuisine that has been thoughtfully selected and modified for a New York-based clientele.
Bangkok Supper Club’s cuisine by Mr. Wittawat is more sophisticated but also more casual. He arranges his dishes with a focus on color and contrast, then garnishes them with tiny herb leaves, flower petals, and garlic chips. In addition, a lot of the cuisine is influenced by street food, with the charcoal grill serving as the main focal point of a meal. Given that the proprietors are still waiting for a functioning gas line two months after the business opened, it’s likely much more dominant today than it was intended to be.
Yum khai dao is a salad that has fried duck eggs broken up and scattered throughout it.
There are patrons in a dining area, and behind them are bartenders at work.
Booths in the shape of horseshoes line the eating area.
The appetizer of octopus has a delicacy and softness that could only be achieved by slow simmering. The classic nam jim sauce’s pickled garlic and fresh chilies give it a vibrant taste. However, the crispy edges and outside flavor are attributed to charcoal, paying homage to the seafood grills that emit smoke along Yaowarat Road in Bangkok’s Chinatown.
After cooking eggplant over charcoal until it collapses, a delicious and salty fermented soybean sauce is applied. Two luscious prawns are scented with smoke from the grill and served with a curry cashew sauce that is considerably more flavorful and intricate than the peanut butter-based satay sauce found at a thousand local Thai restaurants. (Ms. Saesue cannot use peanuts in the kitchen due to her allergy.)
Bangkok Supper Club has grilled salads, too. The green beans and pea pods are blistered over charcoal and served over a bed of creamed tofu, which balances the tangy dressing made primarily of chile oil and garlic.
With a dish of massaman curry, white rice is served.
A stew made of tender beef cheeks is called massaman curry.
Not everything, of course, tastes like it was prepared on a street corner in Bangkok. Especially the curries, which are obviously prepared with care by someone in an indoor kitchen. There’s something almost feral hiding behind the creamy coconut cream and spicy Indian spices of the massaman curry, giving it a wilder edge than typical. This variation, which is made using spoon-cut beef cheeks, could be my favorite in the city.
However, food might appear disoriented if it strayed too far from the grill. The lobster, while attractive on Instagram, didn’t have much to say about itself.
The rest of the restaurant reflects this as well, from the lighting cooking counter in the rear where Mr. Wittawat and his team work to the deep, horseshoe-shaped booths along the sides to the logo flashing in red neon light in the window on Hudson Street after hours.
No restaurant in the world has any of the golden headdresses or other props from “The King and I” that are meant to symbolize Thai culture. Ms. Saesue and Mr. Suansilphong have created a restaurant that reflects modern Thailand, much like Junghyun and Ellia Park did at Atomix when they rejected decades of stale Asian restaurant clichés in favor of designs by current Korean artists. Taste Space, a Bangkok-based design firm, created the interior, with the majority of the materials—including the furniture and the sophisticated ceramic bowls and plates—coming from Thai artists.
The restaurant’s design was created by a company located in Bangkok.
Because of this, the restaurant has a considerably more contemporary vibe than many of the city’s newer establishments, which may explain why reservations are so difficult to come by at a respectable hour.
Of course, there’s also the cuisine. No one’s comfort zone is threatened by Mr. Wittawat’s serving of offal, fly eggs, blood, or other commonplace items in Elmhurst, Queens. He doesn’t give in, though. I hope that some of his meticulously crafted meals remain on the menu for many years to come.
Additionally, I hope Mr. Wittawat has time soon to create additional delicacies. There is now just one, basic yet unique. A dollop of sweet potato-coconut ice cream bristles with toasted coconut pieces in a wave pattern. Chunks of golden cake, like a cross between mochi and pound cake in texture, are ripped and scattered throughout the ice cream. The veteran pastry chef Mr. Wittawat, who is again on familiar ground, worked on another type of sticky rice that gives it its consistency.
The low-key beauty of the dining room is the result of a Bangkok design business, and its owners have filled it with modern Thai ceramicists and other artists.Level of Noise: Moderately loud.Suggested RecipesGoi (beef tartare from northern Thailand); satay (prawn); Hokkaido scallop ceviche; grilled octopus; massaman beef cheeks; Bangkok gai yang.Wine and BeveragesBanana vermouth, cabbage soup, and other ingredients you won’t find behind every bar are used to make cocktails. A brief but helpful list of wines and beers is also provided.Cost: $$$$ (exorbitant)Daily Open for supper.Reservations Welcomed.Access for WheelchairsThe sidewalk level has an accessible bathroom and a dining area.What the Stars Indicate: Star ratings span from one to four. Zero is fair, mediocre, or adequate. One star, excellent. Excellent, two stars. Excellent, three stars. Four stars, really impressive.The last update to this data was made on November 27, 2023.
Resy is the source of reservations
Since 2012, Pete Wells has worked as a restaurant critic. In 2006, he became a dining editor at The Times. Additional information about Pete Wells
- Bangkok Supper Club, a recently opened restaurant in the West Village, offers a contemporary take on Thai cuisine by chef Max Wittawat, previously a pastry chef at Spot Dessert Bar.
- The restaurant combines sophistication with casual elements, showcasing a range of textures in dishes like ceviche of scallops with watermelon granita and creatively treated sticky rice.
- Influenced by street food, the menu features dishes like grilled octopus with a nod to Bangkok’s Chinatown seafood grills and flavorful salads prepared over a charcoal grill.
- The restaurant’s modern and vibrant atmosphere, designed by a Bangkok-based firm, reflects a contemporary vision of Thailand, and its cuisine, though diverse, excels particularly in dishes prepared on the charcoal grill.