IF YOU’RE LOOKING for something a little bit different, then chef Natt Panchangkakul is ready to meet your culinary demands.
The tattooed chef wears many hats as part of his daily routine at Bon Sol’e on Kaset-Nawamin Road. He can multi-task as artist, fashion designer, interior designer and advertising producer.
But when he’s in the kitchen his focus is on his customers and good food.
He welcomes guests to Bon Sol’e as if it were his own home and happily chats with diners while putting together their orders.
“Bon Sol’e borrows its name from Isaan dialect which literally means a fun gathering place,” says Natt, an art graduate from the College of Fine Arts. “I love mixing and matching ingredients and don’t compromise my taste to meet the need of each customer.”
Chumphon-born Natt was taught how to cook Southern dishes by his mother who once ran a small restaurant-cum-dressmaker shop called Trakarn on Sukhumvit Soi 4. After graduating, he went on to study fashion design at Kent University in the UK and also earned some money by working at a restaurant.
When he returned home he spent time in the kitchen at the riverside Praya Palazzo Hotel in Bangkok, learning Western cooking techniques while he worked as an interior and landscape designer.
Natt is also a driving force behind the popular Phranakorn Bar and Gallery on Rajdamnoen Klang Avenue.
“All members of my family love cooking and many of them run their own small restaurants. During my childhood, my time-out punishment was helping my mum in the kitchen and that was actually so much fun for me,” recalls Natt who used to work as a fashion designer for the famed Greyhound fashion house and had his own fashion label Camden Town.
The decor of Bon Sol’e is industrial loft style with iron, unfinished concrete floor and walls, rustic brick, wooden chairs and tables. Live bands play nightly from 9pm. Though the place is a favourite spot for night owls and drinkers, the dishes don’t focus solely on gab glam – bite-size nosh that’s perfect with particular drinks.
His fried rice with shrimp paste and fried mackerel (Bt150) is perfect for anyone craving a big plate. The rice is well fried with mackerel bits, salted egg, pork crackling and dried shrimp and served with a whole mackerel together with a bowl of clear soup and fresh vegetables.
Stir-fried river prawns with salt and chilli (Bt300) is equally tempting and the flesh of river prawns still remain their jelly-like and firm texture, giving a naturally sweet taste.
“It requires hot flame and quick cooking to keep the juicy texture of the river prawn. A tad overcooking leaves the flesh dry and slightly chewy,” says Natt.
Some people may be reluctant to order duck breast due to its stronger flavour and tougher meat than chicken. However, his pan-seared duck breast with fish sauce (Bt200) defeats that worry. The duck breast is marinated with pure fish sauce, kombu (edible kelp) and sugar to get rid of the strong flavour but delivers umami or a pleasant, savoury taste. It’s then pan-seared with lard and served with Isaan-style spicy jaew dipping together with grilled vegetables of asparagus, tomato and bell pepper.
Next up is Fleur de sel dory fillets with salsa salad (Bt350). The fillets are seasoned with fleur de sel and seared with olive oil. Before serving, they are topped with cream sauce and bacon bits and served with sauteed mixed vegetables and salsa salad. I personally found the dish a bit too salty.
For a hot kick, opt for spicy prawn salad with avocado (Bt220). The raw prawn bits are seasoned with chilli, fish sauce, lime juice, julienned lemongrass and kaffir lime leaf, and single-clove garlic and served in a hollowed avocado.
“I don’t use artificial seasonings and the presentation of each dish is changeable thanks to the ingredients, vegetables and my mood. I don’t like to make anything in pattern. The menu keeps changing every two months,” the chef says.
Therefore, don’t be surprised if you order a dish and it is totally different than the meal I enjoyed.
ON THE MENU
>> Bon Sol’e is at Hua Moom Market on Kaset-Nawamin Road, opposite Index Living Mall.
>> It’s open nightly from 6pm to midnight. Call (063) 429 6592 or visit “BonSole” page on Facebook.