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An artsy khao gaeng restaurant by the former kitchen team of Nahm
If you love something, let it grow. That’s not how the old adage goes, but it’s the thought that comes to mind after conversing with the owners behind Charmgang Curry Shop—chefs Aruss “Jai” Lerlerstkull, Atcharaporn “Aew” Kiatthanawat and Geravich “Mew” Mesaengnilverakul, who all worked with renowned chef David Thompson at Nahm, as well as visual designer Saran Yen Panya. At Charmgang, their collective goal is to serve authentic Thai flavors and recipes that are becoming harder and harder to find, at the same time find ways to present them in more modern ways. According to the owners, you have to allow something to evolve in order to conserve it.
The neon-lit eatery is small, but bursting with style. Red printed reed mats line the walls, serving as the main design element. A long steel dining table takes up most of the room, surrounded by metal chairs with woven cushions, each one with a unique floral design. At the back of the room, the three chefs work over gleaming brass pots filled with simmering curries, and a wooden tabletop laden with vegetables.
The menu, which changes monthly, pays homage to comforting Thai fare and allows each chef’s forte to shine. Chef Mew has a knack and passion for grilled dishes, while Chef Aew’s strength lies in yum and chili dips. Chef Jai is in charge of the curries.
To start, try the refreshing yum salad with rose apple, cilantro and Thai herbs dressed with fried shallots and palm sugar. Follow it up with the relish of tangerine with grilled tiger prawns and deep-fried pomfret (B 580).
The light appetizers then give way for the stars of the show—the curries. From the latest menu, must-try fish dishes include the curry of smoked kingfish with pennywort (B 560), which is creamy and perfectly balanced, and the grilled freshwater fish with pickled mustard greens. Those who prefer meat can opt for the curry of grilled pork jowl with Siamese cassia leaves (B 580). End with light desserts made with Thai fruits, such as sapodilla in fresh coconut milk, that help clean the palate. There are delicious curries. Then there are delicious curries made with a passion verging on obsession. There’s no guessing which category the dishes served at Charmgang fall into.