The rise of Nordic cuisine is here.
The buzz: Swedish chef Björn Frantzén—the three-star Michelin chef behind the eponymous restaurant empire the Frantzén Group—has graced Bangkok with his first outpost in Thailand, Villa Frantzén, upending the Nordic dining scene in Bangkok.
The decor: Taking over the space of a two-storey house on Soi Yen Akat and converting it into two Nordic-style villas, Villa Frantzén is complete with a lush green garden and little corner staff joke could be used as a proposal nook. The space is separated into two different villas: one for the cocktail lounge—a nod to Frantzén’s original establishment—and the other for the restaurant. Stepping inside, you’re greeted by a massive open kitchen full of staff working their magic. Those wanting for more privacy can book private dining rooms upstairs with the added benefit of a balcony view.
The food: The food is helmed by head chef Martin Enström. His 5-course tasting menu (B3,500) sees modern Nordic cuisine with a touch of Asian influence. The fun part is that you can design your own course as each tasting menu has three available options, so if you happen to have more than two friends, it’s highly recommended to bring them along to experience his courses to the fullest. Our first course arrives as veal tartare and smoked parsley, an excellent starter where thick, creamy creme fraiche mixes with bright, crunchy vendace roe and melon radish. Next is cauliflower chawanmushi and morels, a steamed egg custard in yeasted mushroom tea, lime, toasted hay oil, lemon thyme, and split peas. Though personally not a big fan of vegetables, we find their pumpkin and frozen truffle butter very well-executed, seeing broccoli topped with Swedish Vasterbotten cheese, pumpkin seed oil, and spinach. The main course of ox cheeks and caramelized onion veloute is delightful; the cheeks are soft and buttery and require almost no effort to cut; the brussel sprouts, parsley, and liquorice that accompany the dish all serve as great accompaniments. The course ends with the dessert: a large chocolate sphere encasing Frantzen’s signature smoked ice cream with toasted pecans, bitter cacao nibs, tar syrup, and salted fudge with cloves. The other interesting option is the Szechuan pepper ice cream with fiery kicks from mala pepper. If five courses don’t satisfy your cravings, there are supplemental servings, including the Oyster 63.4c (B250), Frantzen’s signature poached oysters topped with spicy pumpkin condiment, smoked cream, finger lime, and sea buckthorn oil.
The drinks: The restaurant has two different pairings: wine (B1,900 for five glasses) and a non-alcoholic pairing (B1,500 for 5 glasses). Though we’d normally love to choose the wine pairing, we highly recommend you opt for their fermented juice and kombucha. Among our favorites is their roasted red rice and cloudberry, reminiscent of rice milk. After you finish the menu, walk to their bar lounge and try some of their signature cocktails. Most of the signatures take a nod from Nordic cuisine with Asian ingredients. The Chlorophyll Highball (B430), for example, arrives as an unassuming translucent drink, a blend of dry gin, mezcal blanco, sea buckthorn water, and pear shrub. Sipping the floating green drops, however, will amaze: gas-infused sichuan mala. The Berries and Cream (B420) sees red-berry cordial, violette, and verjus topped with cream cheese and egg white—a dessert in a glass to satisfy any sweet tooth.
Why we’d come back: As each of their dining experiences has three different options, you might need to come here at least once more to experience everything. Though the restaurant’s bookings are quite competitive, their bar is open for walk-in visitors, so feel free to stop by. By Porpor Leelasestaporn.