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)