BANGKOK | There was only one high end restaurant that I had booked in before arriving in Bangkok on my recent trip, and that was Small Dinner Club (‘SDC’). It’s a 12 seater chef’s table restaurant by owner/head chef Sareen Rojanametin, that challenges preconceptions about Thai food and ingredients, opening up new perspectives on what’s possible, and stoking a sense of discovery.
The restaurant opened last year, but is actually an evolution of a concept that I wanted to try in Melbourne, but never got the chance to before it closed. Sareen used to own Carlton cafe Nora, which presented diners with creative South East Asian inspired breakfasts. In 2016, the Friday night pop-up dinners SDC, became the main concept.
Between closing Nora in 2017 and opening SDC in 2022, Sareen (who actually studied photography in Melbourne before becoming a speciality coffee barista, and then self-taught chef) worked in some of the world’s top restaurants, then spent two and a half years as a monk in a Thai forest monastery. All experiences which have informed the SDC experience.
Melbourne’s loss has been Bangkok’s gain, as what Sareen is doing in his hometown is something very exciting. The 12 or so dishes on the menu arrive over a three hour period. You’re given the name of the dish, its inspiration, and nothing more. After you’ve had a few bites, Sareen and his team ask you questions and give you more details about the dish – ingredients, techniques, and the story behind the dish.
It’s a different way of eating that sounds gimmicky, but after years of tweaking the concept, it’s anything but. The experience does get you thinking about what it is that you’re eating in a different way. It’s educational, and a whole lot of fun. Most importantly of all, it’s delicious.
‘Daft Punk is Playing in My Mouth’ sees a plate come to the table to the sounds of LCD Soundsystem’s ‘Daft Punk Is Playing At My House’. The dish contains a particular ingredient, hidden in the most unexpected part of the plate. ‘Winter’s Bone’, presents bone marrow with flavours and textures I’ve never had it paired with before. Two different tom yum dishes deconstruct the humble classic, encouraging diners to view the dish from different perspectives.
Diners are encouraged to chat with each other and to interact with the staff. It’s very much a place for the curious. At the end of the meal you’re given a full list of ingredients for each dish. I’ve been purposely vague on my descriptions as to not spoil anything for you should you dine at SDC.
Dinner at SDC is one of most interesting and unique meal experiences I’ve enjoyed this year. It might have taken me seven years to try Sareen’s food, but it was worth the wait.
Small Dinner Club
1109 Charoen Krung Road
Telephone: 083 992 9669
Thu – Sun: 6:00pm to 11:00pm