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Thursday, July 03, 2008

Jok Kitchen


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Jok Kitchen
私家菜館, Chinatown Bangkok

A friend from Taiwan visited Bangkok for his first book on the City of Angel after his nine successful series for France, Mainland China, Macau and Hong Kong. I felt obliged to bring him to an eatery a little special than anyone may reach. Accompanied by good friends from Hong Kong, five of us marched to Yaowaraj Bangkok's China Town, through maze-like lanes and alleys, we arrived to a sidewalk market in a wet and dirty alley with rundown shop houses on two sides. One of my friend stopped and asked me with doubt " Were we lost?" with his mind puzzled 'Hope this is not the place!'. Another friend asked if the special lunch meant we actually do the cooking so we were brought to a wet market for ingredients! Owing them answers, I took them to a small room in one of the shop houses without a proper restaurant facade. The zero-decorated room has two tables covered with fancy Chinese tablecloths and few folding chairs. My other friend asked, "Oh, confirmed so we are eating at your house?" I wish that is my house, as anyone owns a property in China Town means they maybe a 9-digit millionaire.

We were at Jok's place, or the owner/chef Mr. Jok called it the Jok Kitchen.

To introduce Jok I have to rerun history of a boy growing up in a seafood wholesale and export Thai-Chinese family in Yaowaraj (Bangkok's China Town), who has the chance to stay with best seafood material since born. Jok's family were one of Thailand big time crab farmer cum exporter for years, then little boy Jok always followed his father to restaurants in Bangkok and Hong Kong for business, where he learned culinary skills from top chefs since young. Until now Jok's elder brother is still exporting crab and seafood to countries around the world, while Jok enters to retail restaurant business with passion to cook. Friendly and party animal Jok started cooking for his friends, through word-of-mouth more friends requested to sample his culinary skill, led Jok to begin the one-table eatery in his shop house's home in the middle of Bangkok's China Town few years ago, while expanding to four tables today. Jok has no plan to expand further as he believes mass production will only ruin the quality of the food.

Since it is a home kitchen, just like we eat at a friend's house, so we don't order food and eventually menu was absent in Jok Kitchen. Correct, no menu to order food. Our lunch was like a game show guessing what was the first and what was the next!

Our 6-course lunch were,
1. Quick boiled wonton Cantonese style
2. Smoked duck and pork meat in thin slices
3. Steam medium size Surat-thani sea crab (3 crabs) shelled
4. Spicy lemongrass salad with prawns
5. Vegetables (Chinese baby kale) in oyster sauce with canned abalone
6. Taro mousse with ginkgo nuts on the bed of sweet sticky rice a.k.a. ow-ni

Cost was Baht 3,750 (the crab was B800 each)

Chinese cuisine is known for its subtle blend of spices, flavors and textures and Jok exemplifies the very best in Chinese cooking, with a wide range of classic Chinese delights to stimulate your palate and satisfy your appetite.

I think my friend will include Jok Kitchen in his latest collection the Bangkok Swing, the book is scheduled to launch during December 2008 in Taiwan.

Jok Kitchen ***1/2

23 Trok Issaranuphap

Phiap Phia CHai Road

Pom Prap Sattru Phai, Bangkok 10100

Tel.: 02.221.4075, 02.623.3921

Open daily: Lunch 11am - 3pm; Dinner 6 - 11pm

(by reservation only, for lunch 2-3 weeks in advance, for dinner 2 months in advance)


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48 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why no photo? but I saw some photos fom the Sea blog. You and Sea go together because you both post at the same time. Must be hard to book tables.

Thailand Club said...

yes, in-the-sea now in town, we went there with another good friend from HK and 2 new friends from Taiwan for a wonderful home-cooking lunch at the private kitchen 'Jok'

booking take a long wait, but since i am the Unseen Gourmet, i can get the table within days, otherwise reservation for dinner has to be 3 months in advance :)

in the sea said...

Yes, it has been fun and surprising every time I am in BKK. Too bad tonight something wrong with my camera. Hope I can fix it. So for the food of the night of 3rd July, I need to comment on Thailand Club's blog. Thank you.

Stella said...

Tonight is July 3rd.
What kind of home make food is that which needs 3 months of booking?
Is the food as good as Sea's or Thai's home cooking?

in the sea said...

I think it's up to each person's choice to try Jok's cooking. For me, it's still ok to try it, if it's at lunch time. However, you need to have someone like Thailand Club who knows how to make the advance phone booking.

in the sea said...

yes, this is quite fun actually for not knowing what to be served next. Yes, anyone is welcome to browse my blog http://www.whispalms.blogspot.com/ for my experience with this restaurant and some others as well.

Stella said...

Hi,
I just came back from July 4th firework and finished my shower. Hungry now so it is good to read your blog.
It seems this home made place is costly($100)US.
It is better to eat at Thai's Kitchen or Sea's Kitchen as I know the taste is good and also the cost is low(no) to me.

Stella said...

By the way, the menu of Stella's Party(15 people) at Lacy Park tonight was:
HK Style Potatoe Salad; Corn; Pad Thai and Chicken Satay(ordered by Chris); Korean Rib(ordered by Chris); Shrimp cocktail; veggie egg roll; mango tapioca, water melon, Boba drink and others. Do you know which two did I make?

Thailand Club said...

hk style potato salad and corn

Anonymous said...

Quite expensive. But if they don't let you know what to order, they will serve expensive food? maybe lobster, shark fin? Not safe.

Thailand Club said...

well it depends how people spending habits

THB3,750 ($115) for 6 dishes maybe not cheap, but consider THB2,400 already go to the crab, the other 5 dishes only cost THB1,350 (incl. abalone with veggie THB400), so it is not really that expensive

the crab, medium size (instead of jumbo size) is best for doing steam crab, although it cost THB800 each, not cheaper than other restaurants but not more expensive either, live crab in Bangkok is never cheap anyway

if we don't eat crab (tell Jok you don't like crab when we do the reservation), then a round of 6-course dinner/lunch may cost under THB2,000

just look at the long waiting list for dinner we found Bangkok residents really don't mind the higher price tag of this tiny (and no decoration) private kithcen, the skillful chef charisma counts!

in the sea said...

If you go to Sai Kung for those "neck killing" seafood restaurants, it will be the same amount but in HK$. Last time my friend told me they just eat some crab and shrimp and fish in the "xx Kee" (the famous one), no lobster. They paid 7-8K HK$ for 12 people. However, for Chef Jok, he had some ideas about food, like he put water chestnut in the taro paste to make it taste fresher. The Won ton is already above average and it's B50 for 10!

Yai said...

Now I am waiting for the full review and the phone number for reservation.

Stella said...

Hi Thaisclub,
You guessed right. I made the potatoe salad and corn.
By the way, why this Jok Kitchen is so popular?
As it it not cheap and you don't even know what to expect? Did you give the chef a budget for the food? Otherwise this is dangerous as he may cook something you cannot eat and also costly.

Thailand Club said...

you don't tell a celebrity chef what to cook, but u can tell him what u cannot eat (like i told him i don't want snow fish), and of course no set budget

but Jok count ur head and decide what to offer, normal THB800-1,000 per head, so the more u come, the more expensive ingredients he can prepare

most people paying a handsome dining bill would prefer to see and to be seen, so this tiny clean cut (and the alley to the restaurant is always wet and dirty) home kitchen is for those real gourmet, not for everyone

his regular guests incl. CEO of the CP Group, CEO of Land & House (L&H is mother company of Centre Point Apartments), CEO of Thai Beverage (beer Chang), and politicians

the day we lunch there we sit at the front room, i saw some security in police uniform at the back room (Jok has 2 small rooms, each accommodate 2 tables), so must be some important people dine there also

like every restaurant in the world, if u heard that restaurant need a few months of reservation to secure a table, then we automatically understand that one must not be ur neighborhood restaurant

Stella said...

Wow, so Jok Kitchen is too impressive for everyone. If not for real gourmet, this is a waste then.

Thailand Club said...

correct! not for everyone

that's why i wait for the right occasion to bring my gourmet friends like in-the-sea, another food loving friend from hk, and an author (travel and gourmet) from Taiwan to sample Jok's culinary skill

my friend interview Jok too and may put this in his 13th publication

in the sea said...

Yes, impressive indeed! Ok, time to go to fly back. Catch up later.

Anonymous said...

This is the kind of restaurant I dream for.

Please tell us the address (and direction to go) and phone number.

Does Mr. Jok speaks English or Chinese?

in the sea said...

When I saw someone doing something which I dreamed of, I would feel so happy, like every time when I saw the cockpit of the 747-400 when I was on the upper deck. The other time one of my friends went to Bali Island and now made a living by doing his travel business. I felt so happy for him as someone made my dream come true. However, Mr. Jok can speak some Chiu Chow dialect but mostly in Thai; only Thailand Club could communicate with him. Besides, Thailand Club seems to be a good friend of Mr. Jok from the gesture of their conversation. That's also why we could get a table in just a few day advance booking though it's lunch.

Anonymous said...

In the Sea, you already made yourself something in your business. If you run a home dining restaurant, I would like to be your first customer. Thanks so much for your BBQ parties. I enjoyed your food so much. You made some very nice cucumber salad with garlic. Also your stir fried broccoli is nice. Look forward to your place for another BBQ.

A friend of yours!

Thailand Club said...

If in-the-sea run his home kitchen, i suppose not to be his customer only, but live there to help; so i can eat everything before anyone and steal his technique hehe :)

Anonymous said...

So that means we need to book it thru' someone who can speak Thai or have some relationship with the owner.

Thailand Club said...

u don't need to speak Thai to make reservation, Jok speaks simple English

but advised u ask the hotel concierge to make the call for u

there is no need to be the owner's friend to eat there, i am not his buddy either, just Thai people are always friendly and polite, so in-the-sea think Jok and me r long time friend :)

in the sea said...

Mmh. I think because of our guess game, our friends are crossing over in between the 2 blogs. Thank you Anonymous 12:14pm. It's not difficult to do and I can tell you if you wanna try it yourself.

Richard said...

My brother-in-law's kitchen is the best home made cooking I eat so far.
Better than anyone in our families.
He shall open a private kitchen. By the way, LA has one place called "The Kitchen", the food is similar to Jade Crystal we ate with Jonathan.
Ok, I have to go now. Stella did not know I opened this(as she forgot to close it). Not my fault. Don't tell her.

in the sea said...

Mmmh.. can't tell her as she can read every comment here... :)

Thailand Club said...

No no no, we don't tell Stella. We pretend that u didn't browse the blog and didn't make comment. :)

Anonymous said...

It's quite happy to see all of your comments. Sense of humor!

Man

Thailand Club said...

i expect to show in-the-sky some more surprise restaurants in august, stay tune for his review after his august trip :)

in the sea said...

I am sure there are lots of hidden places yet to be discovered. That's how you make this blog. Cheers.

Thailand Club said...

suppose i can compose 1 blog a day (as it should be) if i am not that busy (and lazy), still within a year i don't think i can introduce all restaurants and nice food in Thailand i have sampled

gourmet without limit - that's the charm of Bangkok as well as the whole Thailand's epicure scene

Stella said...

I just wonder do other people in Thailand do the blog thing to introduce their own country, or only you as their ambassador?
By the way, I heard today while driving, the DJ from AM 1430(local Cantonese radio)mentioned he just came back from Bangkok and he was brought to a private kitchen(he said in Cantonese "See Fong Choi"). He said that Kitchen needs to book 3 months in adance. And he did not know what dish he was going to eat until the food was on the table. And it is not cheap. The owner's family was in seafood and eating businees before. The DJ said he liked it a lot even though it is costly(about $50US per head count). Maybe he is talking about this same one.

Thailand Club said...

oops $50 per head count he must ate lobster too, normal per head in Jok is $25-30 per head

food not superb if we hv to prepare to Master Chow's but in Bangkok it is good enough (check in-the-sky blog)

my next visit will be 2nd August, go with some high-so local friends

Anonymous said...

Lucky you Thailand Club and Sea. Both of you can go to eat so many places and now Stella got addicted too.
Oh, I did not mean to peep this blog. But Stella forgot to close this (again). Please don't tell her.
Now I am smart, I will not even write my name.
P.S. Is Sea the one I know and ate at Crystal Jade?

Thailand Club said...

In-the-sea (a.k.a. in-the-sky) shows his picture in his blog, go check it out if u know him or not :)

Thailand Club said...

oh my God now even radio DJ in LA talked about this private kitchen, so i better eat as much as i can before it became a 'tour spot'

like Je Ngor Kitchen, it was famous among the middle-class locals and food was very good, even a princess went to learn 'tum' the somtum there, but after many HK TV programs and magazines bomb interviews few years ago, now Je Ngor became HK canteen and the food not as good as before, sad!

so for Kung-ten, Sompon and Jok, i better treat it the best kept secret status for a moment and eat as much as i can, sooner or later they will became another Je Ngor

Fillet-O said...

Hi Thaisclub, where is the address and phone number of Jok, I am going to book a banquet :)

Stella said...

Yes, this Jok Kitchen was mentioned by some Chinese DJ from LA. They are thrilled with the good food in BKK. Also with Thailand Club and By-the-Sea's blog networking, BKK will become more and more popular. These two guys are like ambassadors of Thailand.

Anonymous said...

I agree what Stella has said.
From,
The Fast Food Cook

in the sea said...

Har.. ambassador? Don't watch too much the Jade channel.... This term sounds like those charity shows or variety shows.

Thailand Club said...

sorry in-the-sea, only channel Stella watch for the last 15 years is TBVS Jade, if TVBS go to the sky earlier, she may watch that since the first day she landed (to the US) :)

don't ask her about 60-minute-plus, Jamie Oliver (she only know master Chow Chung) haha

Stella said...

I only watched Jade Channel for the past 5years.

in the sea said...

didn't say Jade Channel is not good. Some of the drama may be not good to the kids, and teach them with some misleading thoughts, esp. those drama which are with family hatred and revenge with mean and harsh words. I told my aunts not to watch those dramas because it will even teach the adults to learn those unnecessary mean languages.

Thailand Club said...

oh i remember an old soap in the US, the Dynasty

in the sea said...

Haha... Dynasty! Wow I almost forgot how the characters looked like.

Yai said...

Wow, seafood exporter-cum-chef, I like seafood, must try then.

Jane Kaylor said...

Thanks for the recipe!!! Love it. Fresh or frozen local abalone is cheaper but will never give the same taste, flavor and texture as canned abalone. I love the flavor and taste of canned abalone and one day I want to eat abalone like 'abalone kings' do: braised in sauce and served whole, like a steak, washed down with a good white wine. Cut with a knife and fork of course. Meantime, it's still cheaper to slice abalone thinly and share with the family. I love this dish. It's such a special treat