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A fresh start for ABC

A fresh start for ABC

FRIDAY, July 22, 2016
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At its new location, ABC Essence in Eatery finds a different breed of diners

PAKAMON “NINA” Somboonvechakarn seems to have learned more than just the alphabet basics while vying for the attention of restaurant patrons on highly competitive Soi Thonglor last year. She’s moved her ABC Essence in Eatery to the Crystal Veranda mall on Ekamai-Ram Intra Road and is catering to a rather different crowd.
The new 260-squre-metre location is twice the size of the original, big enough to accommodate about 100 diners. There’s also a relaxing greenhouse with another 40 seats, ideal for group functions. 
And the menu has doubled in size too, offering 80 dishes, while desserts have multiplied fivefold.
“I was invited to move here on the agreement that we’d cater mainly to families, the mall’s target group,” Nina says. “We’d become well known on Thonglor last year, but the space was limited both for dining and parking and the younger crowd came mainly for a ‘social-media moment’ – taking pictures of the dishes they could share online, because we present the food so interestingly.” 
Shared more on Instagram than any other entr้e at the Thonglor locale was Spaghetti Carbonara, a photogenic delight with mushrooms and bacon bits frolicking in foamy Parmesan cheese beneath a battered boiled egg. But it’s rarely ordered at the new location, says Nina. 
“Our customers here find it too rich and mostly go with more intensely flavoured dishes like the Spicy Crab Spaghetti.”
Maintaining its minimalist appearance, the new ABC Essence in Eatery is all white walls, Scandinavian furniture and marble floors and counters, framed in a honeycomb of steel mesh.
“‘ABC’ represents the starting point, the most basic essence of eating,” Nina explains. “For our meals we want food that’s flavourful as well as nutritious, and here we offer wholesome fusion food that answers both needs.”
No rookie in the food business, Nina comes from a family that’s one of the leading exporters of green coffee beans and ground coffee and runs the Caffe D’Oro coffee-shop chain, which has more than 100 branches across the country.
“I’ve also always been fond of eating out,” says Nina, who earned a degree in marketing from Britain's Warwick Business School and also studied at Chulalongkorn University’s Sasin Graduate Institute of Business Administration. “As an epicure I believe I can mix and match seasonal and high-quality ingredients to create truly tasteful dishes.”
Making Nina’s creative culinary vision a reality is chef Patimaporn Ruangcharoen, who studied food science at Delft University in the Netherlands and made the move from Thonglor with her.
Brunch is available all day, and begun most engagingly with Nina’s Breakfast Waffle (Bt250). Crispy bacon, hash browns, avocado, rocket lettuce, Parmesan cheese and whipped cream accompany the freshly cooked egg waffle, and you get both maple syrup and home-made berry ketchup for a choice between sweet or tangy.
Egg Lava (Bt140) is a fresh croissant stuffed with sauteed mushrooms and shallots, melted cheddar and a poached egg that’s been lightly fried to crisp it up, though the yolk is still ready to run. 
At the mall location, many of the regular patrons arrive fresh from their workouts at the fitness centre on an upper floor, and their order of choice is Lean and Clean (Bt260). 
It’s a big plate of mixed veggies high in protein, including avocado, asparagus, broccoli, sweet potato, beetroot, green apple and cherry tomatoes. On top of this is mounted a 200-gram chicken breast cooked sous-vide and trimmed with almond shavings, and on the side an egg-white omelette. The spicy vinaigrette dressing adds a strong kick.
The new best-seller is the Spicy Crab Spaghetti (Bt350), with the perfectly al-dente pasta cooked in a spicy sauce of capers, crabmeat, dried chillies, shitake mushrooms and spinach. Even Thais find it hot. 
A craving for rice is best satisfied with Snowfish Quinoa Fried Rice (Bt450), though the high-protein quinoa rice is in smaller proportion to jasmine rice in the mix. 
“It’s cooked with diced zucchini, carrot, mushrooms and peas, and we don’t use fish sauce or soy sauce, using other flavourings like cayenne instead,” Nina says. “And, since Thais love a fried egg with their fried rice, we serve a sunny-side-up egg with the baked snowfish. You can spice it up more with optional chopped red chillies too.”
The desserts are delectable and irresistible. Snow White’s Apple (Bt180) is a long way from the “poisoned” fruit of the fairytale. Presented in a white bowl with a glass cover, the Granny Smith apple has been cooked soft with coconut blossoms and is joined by cookie crumble and applesauce. 
The signature drink is the Iced Coffee (Bt125), a double shot of espresso, with the syrup served separately from the chilled milk. Naturally, all the coffees at ABC come from her family’s plantation in Chiang Mai. 
The terrific healthy drinks are the Pink Guava Juice goosed up with mangosteen, mango and passion fruit, and the Mango, which gets added panache from pineapple and lemon. Each costs Bt120.
>> The ABC Essence in Eatery is on the second floor of the Crystal Veranda mall on Ekamai-Ram Intra Road.
>> It’s open daily from 11am to 10pm. 
>> Call (082) 451 9929 or visit the “abc.eatery” page on Facebook.