Saawaan received its first Michelin star at the release of the Michelin Guide Bangkok, Phuket and Phang-Nga 2019, the second edition of the Michelin Guide Bangkok. The restaurant was one of 10 new one-star establishments listed in the Guide, which highlighted Chef Sujira ‘Aom’ Pongmorn’s creativity and and ability to source unique and seasonal ingredients from all over Thailand.
Chef Aom said: “I am very happy to receive this Michelin star. It’s a recognition and a pat on the shoulder to all the team for the hard work they have put into Saawaan. It’s also an honour to be in the company of some of the best and most accomplished restaurants in Bangkok and beyond.”
Speaking about the selection of restaurants in the Michelin Guide Bangkok, Phuket and PhangNga, Gwendal Poullennec, International Director of Michelin Guides, said: “This year’s selection highlights the diversity of culinary experiences, both within and outside of Bangkok. We have also seen the blooming trend of the degustation menu, whereby chefs carefully design a complete experience for diners.”
Open since April 2018, Saawaan features a 10-course menu where each dish is based on a technique or a concept commonly found in traditional Thai food. Using imported and local ingredients sourced from all over Thailand, the menu mimics a traditional Thai meal which typically consists of a combination of dips, salads, stir fries, soups, curries and grilled and fermented dishes.
The ‘Koi Pla’ is a raw, made-by-the-table salad of Thai amberjack, roasted sticky rice powder, finely chopped Thai herbs and somsaa dressing. The ‘Nam Prik’, a common Thai relish, is made with the fat of wild rice paddy crabs from Sing Buri province, mixed with Thai herbs and grilled in the crab shell before being served with steamed sticky rice with coconut milk. One-week fermented organic beef brisket adds a tangy touch to ‘Naem Nua Khao Tod’, a popular street food made with fried, curried rice balls, pickled cucumber, young ginger, herbs and red okra leaf. ‘Miang’ is a tribute to the North, where fermented tea leaves have been eaten for centuries.
Chef Aom also uses more traditional techniques such as boiling, as seen in ‘Tom Klong Hoy Nangrom’, a smoky fish soup made with Jean-Paul oyster from France, mushroom and young palm heart; steaming as with ‘Hor Mok Bai Bua’, a curried fish paste mixed with lotus seed, lotus stem and lotus root, before being steamed in lotus leaf; and stir frying, exemplified by ‘Krapaw Pla Muk’, stir fired squid noodles with Thai holy basil sauce, squid ink, king oyster mushroom and organic, 7-days cured duck egg yolk.
‘Kor Mu Yang Tan’, marinated and charcoal-grilled Iberico Secreto pork, is a nod to the strong grilling tradition in Thai cooking. Tender and succulent pork is marinated with Thai herbs and spices and grilled over charcoal. Last but not least ‘Kai Kati Khao Luem Pua’, an oft-forgotten curry from central Thailand, is served with Nakhon Pathom chicken roulade and “Forget Husband Rice’ a rice deemed so good that it will make wives forget their husbands!
Desserts are the domain of Pastry Chef Arisara ‘Paper’ Chongphanitkul whose ‘Sangkaya Fak Thong’ is a modern take on a traditional Thai dessert made with Thong Ampai pumpkin and coconut from Chonburi province.
Saawaan serves a wine pairing menu and a tea pairing menu made with both hot and cold freshly steeped and fermented wild tea from the north of Thailand.
Chef de Cuisine and Owner Sujira ‘Aom’ Pongmorn
Born and raised on Charoen Krung Road in Bangkok in a family of professional cooks, Chef Sujira ‘Aom’ Pongmorn grew up around food. From a very early age, she watched her father and aunt cook traditional Thai food and when she was just six years old, she learned how to prepare Thaistyle omelets over a charcoal firepot, thus igniting her passion for cooking.
After high school, Chef Aom completed the School of The Oriental Hotel Apprenticeship Program (OHAP) at the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok and started her professional career in the hotel’s famous Lord Jim restaurant. During this time she had the opportunity to assist various Michelinstarred Chefs such as Juan Amador and Thomas Keller during their guest appearances at Le Normandie.
Chef Aom’s fine dining experience continued at Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin at Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok, where she learned a different approach to Thai food, immersing herself in the molecular techniques of Michelin-starred Chef Henrik Yde Andersen. Later, she became Executive Chef under famed Thai Chef Ian Kittichai at award-winning Issaya Siamese Club.
Following Issaya Siamese Club, Chef Aom worked at the famous TWG where she put her creativity to the test, using various kinds of tea to create both Thai and European dishes. She later joined the pre-opening team of The House on Sathorn.
In 2016, in search for new challenges, Chef Aom opened Baan Phadthai with restaurateur Frederic Meyer in a converted shophouse on Charoen Krung Road – back where it all started. Specialising in Thailand’s famous national dish, Baan Phadthai became an instant success and was awarded a Bib Gourmand in the inaugural Michelin Guide Bangkok 2018. The Baan Phadthai Cookbook is slated for release in 2018.
Saawaan is Chef Aom’s latest achievement and the culmination of her culinary journey. The menu centres on ingredients sourced from all over Thailand with each dish representing the different techniques used in traditional Thai cooking, such as boiling, steaming, grilling, stir-frying and fermenting. Combining her experiences working with some of the best chefs in the world with her upbringing in a traditional Thai household, Chef Aom creates innovative dishes with respect for the produce and Thai culinary heritage.
Chef Pâtissiere Arisara ‘Paper’ Chongphanitkul
Having discovered her passion for pastry at age 17 while on exchange in France, Chef Paper completed her formal education at the Gastronomicom pastry school in southern France and interned at the Beau Rivage Hotel near Lyon. During her time in Europe, Chef Paper worked alongside pastry greats such as Sadaharu Aoki and Hugues Pouget in Paris and Laurent Gerbaud in Brussels.
In 2011 she returned to Thailand and become Executive Pastry Chef at the award-winning Issaya Siamese Club. Following the success of Issaya Siamese Club, Chef Paper co-founded Issaya Cooking Studio, a renowned cooking school and event space, in 2014 and Issaya La Pâtisserie, a café, at EmQuartier in 2015. In 2016, she co-authored Issaya La Pâtisserie Pastry Cookbook together with Chef Ian Kittichai.
Throughout her professional career, Chef Paper has continued improving her skills and has completed workshops and internships with some of the world’s best Pastry Chefs, including Jordi Bordas and Davide Malizia, and welcomed pastry stars such as Amaury Guichon, Luc Debove and Will Goldfarb to Issaya Cooking Studio. In 2018, Chef Paper was the first Thai national to compete in the Ladies World Pastry Championship in Rimini, Italy.